Enforcement of IP rights in the European Union

IP rightsIn 2012 the EUIPO created the Anti-Counterfeiting Intelligence Support Tool (ACIST). In 2013, following the mandate to its European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights, the EUIPO made the ACIST database available to all law enforcement authorities in every EU Member State, thus launching the ‘ACIST community’.

The report on the EU enforcement of IP rights: Results at EU borders and in Member States 2013-2017 is the first joint analysis of two sources of data, namely, detentions at EU borders and within national markets.

The objective of the report is to inform EU enforcers and policymakers of the trends and estimates of the counterfeit and pirated goods detained, and to develop an evidence base for future policies and priorities.

Detentions at EU borders

Following a peak in 2014, the annual number of operations relating to the detention of counterfeit goods by customs authorities at EU borders has gradually decreased. The number of items detained and their estimated values have also decreased, albeit at a slower pace, apart from temporarily rising in 2015 and 2016. However, despite the decrease, there was a sustained increase in the efficiency of operations during the period, as shown by the indicators for the volume and value of items per case.

  • In terms of number of procedures, the product subcategories appearing in most procedures during the period at stake were Common Consumer products and Luxury products. In turn, in terms of the number of articles detained, those subcategories in which the unitary item is usually smaller in size and value and are mainly transported in bigger shipments in containers or trucks led the ranking of the aggregated period.
  • Regarding the estimated value of the products detained, Luxury products whose corresponding genuine item had a high unitary domestic retail value (in particular due to the brands involved) such as Watches, Bags, wallets, purses and Perfumes and cosmetics, led the ranking of the aggregated period.
  • The historical series showed that the preponderance of China as country of provenance and the appearance in this top 5 ranking of Hong Kong-China and Turkey were constant, whereas Malaysia showed a downwards trend.

Detentions within the EU

Specific analysis of the data related to detentions within the Member State national markets shows many similarities with the joint overall figures (in EU Internal Market and at EU borders aggregated). This demonstrates the weight and scale of the detentions carried out in the Member States.

  • For both volume and estimated value, the trend reflected that the top 5 Member States accounted for around 97 % of total detentions in the national markets for the period analysed. For both criteria Italy led the way, with 77 % of the detentions. France and Spain appeared in both top 5 rankings of EU national markets detentions by volume and estimated value. However, this could change significantly once data from all Member States has been reported to the IP Enforcement Portal.
  • From the top 4 product subcategories identified in terms of volume (40 % of items reported as detained during the period), Clothing accessories and Recorded CDs/DVDs were listed as the most detained items within the EU. Clothing and Toys which made up the other two subcategories also appeared in the top 4 most detained at EU borders.
  • The recurrence of two specific product subcategories, packaging material and labels, tags, stickers is relevant, due to their multiplier effect for the production of more fake products.
  • In terms of the estimated value of the detained items during the period, from the top 4 subcategories (more than 50 % of the total estimated value of these items), Clothing accessories and Recorded CDs/DVDs were the most detained, particularly in the Member State national markets, whereas Watchesand Sunglasses appeared in the top 4 most detained subcategories both in the Member State national markets and at EU borders.
  • Trade marks predominated as the most infringed right in detentions at EU borders. The other infringed rights, copyright, patents, designs and, to a lesser extent, geographical indications and plant varieties, played more of a role in the national markets. However, it must be noted that IP rights are often unidentified at the reporting stage.