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Taxation and Customs Union
General publications30 November 2021Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union2 min read

EU enforcement of IP rights: a joint report with the European Union Intellectual Property Office

Fake products with a value of almost €2 billion were seized in the EU’s internal market and at external borders in 2020.

Fake products with a value of almost €2 billion were seized in the EU’s internal market and at external borders in 2020, according to the first joint annual report published on 30 November 2021 by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Taxation and Customs Union and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).

Within the EU and at external borders, clothing accessories were the most common counterfeited products, both in terms of the number of items seized and their estimated value, followed by packaging materials, recorded CDs/ DVDs and labels, tags and stickers, and clothing.

The COVID-19 crisis had a significant impact on detentions at the EU border in 2020 for a number of reasons, including a lower level of trade in the first few months of the pandemic, fewer goods crossing the borders and difficulties faced by enforcement authorities in implementing controls.

The joint report provides useful information to support the analysis of IPR infringements in the EU and the development by the relevant enforcement authorities of appropriate countermeasures.  The figures it contains were reported by police, customs and market surveillance authorities at the EU’s external borders and in the internal market in 2020.

Results at the EU border (customs seizures)

At EU’s external borders, customs authorities seized fake products with a retail value of €778 million. While this is a 2.4% increase in value on 2019, the number of seized products decreased in the same period. The report shows that in 2020 authorities made seizures of 27 million individual items that infringed on intellectual property rights (IPR). The number is down from 41 million in the year before.

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As in previous years, China is the main source third country for the majority of fake and counterfeit goods entering the EU in 2020, followed by Hong Kong, China (the main source of mobile phones and accessories, as well as labels, tags, stickers) and Turkey (the main source of clothing, medicines and clothing accessories). Postal, express and air transport remain the most significant means of transport in terms of the number of consignments registered.

In terms of numbers of fake goods detained by customs authorities at the border, the top three categories were packaging materials (23.3%), foodstuffs (17.2%) and clothing (9,6%).

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Results in the EU internal market

When it comes to internal market detentions, more fake goods were stopped by police and market surveillance authorities than in 2019 (an increase of more than 4.6%). Their value however decreased due to the reduction in unit value of the principal (or more expensive) products detained.

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


Publication date
30 November 2021
Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union