The goods that were most frequently seized by customs last year are clothing (12%), medicines (10%) and cigarettes (9%), originating mainly from China.
Trademarks were the most commonly infringed intellectual property right. These facts are published in the European Union's report on the results of customs enforcement in 2013.
Intellectual property rights and preventing infringements of those rights are vital to innovation and creativity in Europe. Under the Customs Regulation (608/2013), the customs authorities at EU borders have the power to detain goods if they suspect an infringement of intellectual property rights. This doesn't just mean trademarks, designs, patents, supplementary protection certificates or plant breeders' rights; action can also be taken on the basis of copyright, geographical indications, the topography of a semiconductor product or a trade name.
Action against fake goods
The customs authorities can take action on the basis of a written request from the intellectual property holder. Ideally, such requests must provide as much specific information as possible to enable the customs authority to identify the counterfeit goods. The goods may either be shipped in bulk by container or in small quantities, by post or courier. If the customs authorities discover fake goods, the holder of the intellectual property right is immediately informed. In some cases, the goods can be destroyed right away. In other instances, however, it is up to the holder of the intellectual property right to decide whether he wishes to commence legal proceedings for infringement.