Customs officers to be allowed destroy 'fakes'

Pirated and counterfeit goods cost businesses more than €250 billion a year - MEPs claim

Counterfeit clothing, shoes and DVDs are taken away from Harcourt Street after they were seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau in 2008. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Counterfeit clothing, shoes and DVDs are taken away from Harcourt Street after they were seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau in 2008. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Mon, Jun 10, 2013, 15:34

Customs officers are to be given new powers to seize and destroy pirated and counterfeit goods under proposals being discussed by the European Parliament in Strasbourg today.

Pirated and counterfeit goods such as fake watches, handbags and designer clothes are estimated to cost European businesses across the EU over €250 billion a year, with some products even posing a risk to consumers’ health and safety.

Currently, customs officers in many jurisdictions need to get a court order to destroy counterfeit goods. However, under changes being discussed this afternoon, and due to be voted on tomorrow, customs officers will be able to enforce intellectual property rights.

It is proposed the new rules would not apply to “non-commercial goods carried by people travelling” a clause which would allow those who are carrying or wearing a branded product to avoid having it confiscated and destroyed.

German Liberal Jürgen Creutzmann, who is responsible for steering the new rules through parliament, said: “Thanks to this regulation, customs can do their job quicker and more effectively.”

If the rules are approved goods may be destroyed without a court order and people caught receiving small quantities of counterfeit goods (less than two kilos) by post would be given 10 days to consent to their destruction without having to pay for storage and destruction.