RIGA - A number of EU member states and three non-EU countries last year conducted operation Fake Star, during which counterfeit goods worth EUR 87 million were confiscated, several hundreds of litigations were started and 378 persons engaged in counterfeit goods business were arrested, LETA learned from the Patent Board.
The operation was organized by the Spanish and Greek law enforcement institutions in cooperation with the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), in total 14 EU member states participated, as well as Serbia, Ukraine and the UK.
The sale of counterfeit clothes, shoes and accessories in the European Union remains a profitable market for criminals and a transnational phenomenon according to a joint report by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), through the European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights (‘Observatory’) and the Spanish National Police.
The operation identified a significant use of social media platforms for the promotion of counterfeit goods. Although the amount of counterfeit goods on e-commerce platforms has increased in recent years, the results of this operation show that offline marketplaces remain an important issue and deserve the attention of law enforcement. The seized counterfeit goods mainly originated from outside Europe, namely China, Hong Kong, Turkey and Vietnam, and were transported across land borders or by sea.
Patent Board director Agris Balatauskis underscored that there are also similar trends in Latvia where e-commerce and social media play a significant role in distribution of counterfeit goods.
During the international operation, in total, almost two million counterfeit goods of 258 brands worth EUR 87 million were seized during 3,921 inspections. The inspections were carried out at various locations - 2,396 shops, 717 street markets, 293 border crossings, 187 warehouses, 313 courier companies and 11 factories.
As many as 646 legal proceedings and 1,311 administrative proceedings were opened in member states, while 378 persons were arrested for close links to the counterfeiting business. In addition, a number of those arrested have been linked to other criminal activities unrelated to the counterfeiting market.