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Taxation and Customs Union
General publications16 December 2022Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union

EU enforcement of IP rights: a joint report with the European Commission

In 2021, the number and value of goods infringing intellectual property rights detained at the EU border by customs authorities were higher than in 2020. While their value increased by only 4 % compared to the previous year, the number of items detained at the EU border in 2021 went up by 56 %.

When it comes to internal market detentions, more fake goods were stopped by police and market surveillance authorities than in 2020 (an increase of more than 16 %). The value of those goods decreased, however, due to the higher percentage of detained items belonging to cheaper product categories.

These are the figures provided by police, customs and market surveillance authorities in 2021 and published today by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union (DG TAXUD) and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) in a joint document on ‘EU enforcement of intellectual property rights: results at the EU border and in the EU internal market 2021’. The joint annual brochureshows the annual results for enforcement of IP rights by EU enforcers at the EU border and in the EU internal market respectively.

General publications16 December 2022
Report on the EU enforcement of intellectual property rights in 2021

Since their agreement in 2020, DG TAXUD and the EUIPO jointly publish an annual document presenting the efforts made and work carried out by all authorities in the domain of the enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPRs). This second edition provides the figures for the detentions of IPR-infringing goods and other related information in 2021.

(2.74 MB - PDF)

This edition includes a comparison between the estimates of IPR infringing goods and detentions of the same goods at the EU border. Although those estimates and data on detentions have been collated for many years in separate reports, this is the first time that the data has been published together in one single publication.

In the EU as a whole, the number of detained items in 2021 increased by almost 31 % compared to 2020 but were worth over EUR 1.9 billion - slightly less than in 2020. Packaging materials was the leading identified subcategory, in terms of the number of items detained, followed by cigarettes and labels, tags and stickers. In terms of estimated value, clothing led, followed by watches and audio/video apparatus. Once again, packaging materials and labels, tags and stickers, with their potential multiplying effect for the production of more fake products through wrapping unbranded products within fake packaging or labelling, were among the top three most detained identified products in the EU.

As in previous years, China remains the main country of origin for the majority of counterfeit goods entering the EU in 2021, followed by Türkiye (from which the most detained category was clothing) and Hong Kong, China (from which the most detained category was labels, tags and stickers). In 2021, which was the second year of the COVID 19 pandemic, postal, express courier and air transport remained the most significant means of transport in terms of the number of cases registered.

This joint document aims to provide useful information to support the analysis of IPR infringement in the EU and the development of appropriate countermeasures by relevant enforcement authorities, since the figures allow for a better understanding of the scope and extent of the problem. On a broader scale, it should provide EU policymakers with data for developing evidence-based priorities and policies.

For more information on this topic, and to read the document itself, please click on the links, below.


Publication date
16 December 2022
Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union