The European Union said custom interventions involving goods suspected of infringing intellectual property rights almost doubled in 2010 as it shifted enforcement actions toward e-commerce shipments.

Almost 80,000 cases were recorded in 2010, compared to 43,500 cases in 2009. This dramatic increase is due to the growing number of interceptions in postal traffic, which has significantly increased as a result of the growing number of online purchases in Europe.

“The increase mainly results from sales via the internet. This increasingly popular method of purchasing is simple and convenient for consumers,” reads a statement from the EU. “It has opened up a new channel of distribution for all types of IPR infringing goods, which may be of poor quality or even dangerous for the health and security of consumers.”

The EU also reported that owners of patent, trademark and other IP filed 18,330 complaints in 2010, up from 14,797 last year in response to a streamlined process for filing such complaints.
As in the United States, however, the number of goods detained fell as enforcement shifted to individual consumer transactions. In the EU, officials detained 103 million articles in 2010 compared to 118 million in 2009.

In terms of number of articles detained, tobacco products come first (almost 34 million pieces, i.e. 34 percent of all articles), followed by office stationery (8 million, i.e. 9 percent), other tobacco products (8), labels, tags and emblems (7 percent), clothing (7 percent) and toys (7 percent).

In terms of cases, however, clothing (26 percent), other shoes (20 percent), bags, wallets and purses (5 percent) and sport shoes (5 percent), accounted for the majority of interventions.

Nearly 85 percewnt of the counterfeit goods seized came from China. Germany, the United Kingdom each accounted for about 27 percent of cases, while Greece, Italy and Spain account for roughly 22, 15 and 12 percent of the articles seized