In your Aug. 5 AS Daily
article, “European IPR seizures dropped in 2012,” about intellectual property rights-related seizure data from EU law enforcement in 2012 you stated “The vast majority of the cargo was being transported in postal and courier packages.” The official EU press release on this matter (IP/13/761, Aug. 5), however, talked about “Postal and courier packages accounted for around 70 percent of customs interventions in 2012...” Obviously the two statements are not identical and I would like to take this opportunity to explain why.
In 2012, EU authorities counted 7,936 seizure cases (8.77 percent of the total) involving express shipments; 55,933 (or 61.82 percent) seizure cases involving postal shipments; 16,754 (18.52 percent) cases involving general air cargo; 6,156 (6.80 percent) relating to shipments by road; and 3,690 (4.08 percent) cases involving sea shipments. Seizure cases alone do not provide an accurate picture of the magnitude of the problem, which is why the European Union also keeps statistics on the number of items seized and their manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP), which is the price that the goods would have been sold at retail if they had been genuine.
In terms of the number of articles seized, 58.62 percent (or 23.5 million) were shipped by sea, 19.25 percent (7.7 million) by road, 14.47 percent (5.8 million) by air, 4.97 percent (1.98 million) by express, and 2.68 percent (1 million) by post. Ocean shipments accounted for 55.88 percent of the total MSRP value of all goods seized by EU Customs in 2012, while the MSRP value of goods seized among air shipments was 15.54 percent; trucks, 11.99 percent; postal shipments, 11.82 percent; and express shipments, 4.75 percent.
Looking at these figures in their entirety, it becomes apparent the statement in the AS Daily
article that “The vast majority of the cargo was being transported in postal and courier packages” is incorrect. Most of this cargo was, in fact, shipped by sea (58.62 percent), while the majority of seizure cases were made in postal shipments (61.82 percent). Neither in terms of cargo quantity nor number of seizure cases did express shipments present a majority.
But behind all this data is a very serious issue. The express delivery industry is fully aware of the threat to human health and safety caused by counterfeit products, in particular fake medicines and spare parts. Our (express carrier) members care about society and economies they service. The goal of express delivery companies is to be regarded by Customs as compliant and trustworthy. GEA members are not willingly and knowingly transporting counterfeit or other illegal commodities.
Express carriers are equally affected by IPR infringement. Member companies of the Global Express Association are protected brands. Company logos and color schemes of express carriers are increasingly being used by online shop Websites without permission. Member companies have created dedicated security functions and taken legal action to close on average about 50 Websites a week.
The express industry has established enhanced processes and procedures to promote a secure and compliant supply chain and applies a threat-based risk managed approach for high-risk shippers. As such GEA members cooperate with Customs to combat IPR offenses and customs fraud generally. However, effective enforcement of IPR infringements requires a risk-based and threat-managed approach, as well as cooperation and information-sharing between rights holders, Customs and express delivery companies. While rights holders are the experts in identifying counterfeit items, Customs administrations are the competent authorities to enforce IPR laws, conduct risk assessments and seize illegal items.
Express carriers, however, take actions themselves to support the fight against IPR violations, including:
- Cooperation with institutions responsible for enforcement — GEA members actively work with institutions globally to develop a broader understanding of the international supply chain in order that enforcement agencies can better apply intelligence effectively and target criminal activity moving across international borders.
- Advance electronic shipment information — Express delivery companies transmit electronic information in advance of arrival of shipments to enable Customs authorities to perform risk assessment and target shipments for further examination.
- Track and trace — Systems allow packages identified by Customs as suspicious to be removed from traffic flows and provided to Customs officers for further examination.
- Facilities — Express delivery companies provide Customs officers at express delivery hubs with facilities and equipment that enable them to identify and examine suspect shipments efficiently.
- Information on shippers and consignees — Express delivery companies provide Customs administrations with available relevant information that may legally be disclosed on shippers and consignees of shipments identified as containing offending goods.
- Close accounts — Express carriers can shutdown customers in their networks who are publicly identified by Customs as repeat offenders.
The express delivery industry is convinced that through enhanced cooperation and information-sharing between rights holders, Customs and the transport industry such as the express carriers, a significant contribution to combating counterfeit products can be achieved.
Customs and Security Advisor,
Global Express Association