Page last updated at 11:37 GMT, Monday, 19 May 2008 12:37 UK

Rise in EU counterfeit seizures

Sniffer dog at Heathrow airport
Various methods are used to root out counterfeit goods

Counterfeiting is a "growing problem" for Europe, a new report has concluded, with the number of cases of fraudulent goods seized last year soaring.

The amount of times customs officials intercepted dodgy products at EU borders rose 17% last year with cases of counterfeit medicines alone up 50%.

The European Commission said China remained the main source of counterfeit goods, accounting for 60% of all items.

Safety scares over Chinese toys have led to calls for tougher sanctions.

Creams to computers

Millions of Chinese-made toys were recalled in 2007 by both the EU and the US, prompting Brussels to raise the prospect of a ban if Beijing failed to show it was working to tackle the problem.

More than two-thirds of all toys sold in the EU are manufactured in China.

In response, China has vowed to improve the way products are inspected and to close factories found to have made defective and dangerous items.

This widespread abuse of intellectual property creates health and safety dangers for consumers
European Commission report

The Commission said cases of counterfeiting had steadily increased since 2001 despite enhanced inspection and enforcement actions.

Worryingly, there has been a large increase in the shipment of counterfeit goods posing real health risks to consumers such as razor blades, moisturising creams, medicines, toys, computers and electrical equipment.

Levels of counterfeit clothes are also on the rise and the only products in which real progress has been made are DVDs and cigarettes, where cases fell last year.

Besides China, other originators of counterfeit goods highlighted in the report include Georgia, Turkey, India and the United Arab Emirates.

Customs officials could only examine a fraction of the contents passing through EU borders, the Commission acknowledged, while improved counterfeiting techniques meant detecting dodgy goods remained "challenging".

"This widespread abuse of intellectual property creates health and safety dangers for consumers and damages not only the companies concerned but also impacts on the European economy," it stressed.

"Taking into account the multiple roles attributed to customs, it is important intellectual property enforcement remains a high priority."

Mattel recalls millions more toys
14 Aug 07 |  Business

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