ALIBABA TO PROTECT IP RIGHTS OF MORE AND MORE BRANDS
Chinese Internet giant Alibaba says it is now helping more and more brand owners protect their IP rights – what is more, the e-commerce giant cooperated with law enforcement agencies in 2021 to seize counterfeits worth 3.8 billion Chinese yuan (around 0.54 billion euros). This was published in the company’s 2021 Annual Report on Intellectual Property Protection, which has just been released. According to that, approximately 580,000 accounts of trademark owners are registered on Alibaba’s Intellectual Property Protection (IPP) Platform, and more than 1,000 brands from 21 countries and 207 right holders are now registered in Alibaba’s Anti-Counterfeiting Alliance (AACA). Around one third of the trademarks on the AACA platform are coming out of Europe. However, Alibaba no longer provides details of the number of possible counterfeits on the platform, the trade magazine WTR criticizes.
GERMANY: OFFICIALS CONFISCATE HUNDREDS OF PRODUCTS
In early March, authorities of the Dresden Customs Investigations Office seized more than 950 presumed counterfeits. As it has now been released, acting on behalf of the public prosecutor’s office in city of Gera, Thuringia, the officers searched the apartment of a 28-year-old suspect presumed to have commercially traded in counterfeit products via social media. In a next-door apartment, the suspect stored the now seized goods, which are suspected of infringing the IP rights of a total of 28 different brands – including clothing, sneakers, belts, as well as bags. The items were deemed suspicious because of their poor manufacturing, a strong chemical odor, and missing packaging. Further investigations are now underway to confirm whether they are indeed counterfeit.
ORGANIZED CRIME CURBED IN FRANCE
In mid-March, officers from French Customs and the Police Nationale, assisted by Europol’s European Financial and Economic Crime Centre (EFECC), dismantled an Armenian organized crime group. During the operation, 11 suspects were arrested and an impressive 2.5 tons of counterfeit cigarettes worth around 1.3 million euros were seized. For this, more than 40 officers simultaneously searched 13 commercial and private premises in the Lyon area. Cash and weapons, for example, were also confiscated. According to the investigation, the counterfeit cigarettes were imported from various European countries, temporarily stored in France, and sold on the black market in various French cities.
MILLIONS OF PHARMA FAKES SEIZED IN AFRICA
As released in March, authorities in Africa cracked down on counterfeit medicines and medical devices in a joint operation at the end of 2021. In total, investigators seized some 12 million illegal goods, including about more than two million anticonvulsant tablets, as well as antibiotics, other epilepsy drugs, Covid-19 tests, and protective masks. The so-called operation Flash-IPPA (Illicit Pharmaceutical Products in Africa) involved two months of cooperation between officials from 20 African countries, coordinated by Interpol and Afripol. Among others, checks were carried out at roadblocks, on markets, in warehouses, and in pharmacies suspected of being involved in the trade in counterfeit pharmaceuticals. The operation also uncovered other, related crimes, such as trafficking in drugs and counterfeit food.