Europe: Spectacular actions against counterfeiting

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In huge raids, authorities in Greece and Turkey dismantle illegal production sites for perfume counterfeits. Spanish officials break up a multi-million-euro piracy network. And French customs reports the results for 2019.

“Historic seizure” of counterfeit perfumes in Greece
Luxury goods giant LVMH has recently announced the seizure of more than one million counterfeit perfumes. The coup was achieved by Greek authorities during an enforcement action on Crete. Officials raided several premises in the Heraklion area, including production and storage facilities and a private residence. The officials discovered a complete counterfeiting factory, with machines and materials for producing counterfeit perfumes. Altogether, they confiscated about 1.179 million illegal goods, carrying the LVMH brands Guerlain, Dior, or Kenzo, among others; and arrested seven suspects who, according to authorities, were part of a criminal organization. Furthermore, they confiscated about 500,000 other counterfeit goods, which the criminal group allegedly imported, including fake bags and sunglasses. A representative of the French luxury goods manufacturer LVMH spoke of a “historic seizure”; unlike usually, it was not only targeting warehouses but also a production center. In addition, the representative stated that a seizure of more than one million counterfeits was very rare in Europe.

Manufacturing site for counterfeit perfumes in Turkey busted
Another blow against counterfeit perfume was delivered by Turkish authorities with a raid on an illegal production facility in the Istanbul area. The officers confiscated about one million items of counterfeit perfumes and materials used to produce fake fragrances. During the raid in early June, about 450 liters of ethyl alcohol and 500 liters of other chemicals used to produce counterfeit perfume were seized too, according to the brand protection organization React. The counterfeiters were apparently producing in Turkey and exporting into Russia.

Strike against multi-million IPTV piracy network
In early June, the Spanish Policía Nacional dismantled a criminal network that allegedly offered illegal streaming services in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East and laundered money. In a total of 15 raids in several EU countries, eleven people were arrested, including the suspected head of the organization. The officials also seized assets worth around 4.8 million euros, including real estate, cars, cash, and crypto-currencies; and froze bank accounts worth around 1.1 million euros. The operation was carried out in a cooperation of Europol and Eurojust, as well as law enforcement agencies of several EU Member States and other countries1. The criminal organization operated out of Spain and provided around 40,000 TV channels and other digital content such as films and documentaries via several websites, hosted on an international network of servers. The gang’s illegal activities even included a customer service for users. With more than two million subscribers, the organization is said to have generated around 15 million euros.

1 Eleven EU members (Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Sweden) and three other countries (Great Britain, Canada, and the United States)

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France: Customs reports fewer seized items and many small consignments
The French customs records a high percentage of small consignments in the counterfeit trade, which is linked to fakes sold online, according to their recently published results for 2019. According to this report, e-commerce deliveries now account for around 30 percent of all consignments intercepted. At the same time, the number of intervention requests from rights holders increased to around 1,550 (2018: 1,442). However, the number of counterfeits seized decreased significantly: The approximately 4.5 million counterfeits seized represent a decrease of about 17 percent compared to the previous year; thus, the downward trend since 2016 continues. Counterfeits seized particularly often include personal care products (ca. 986,000), followed by clothing (ca. 523,000), toys and sports goods (ca. 389,000), and mobile phone products (ca. 317,000).

Sources:; React; Europol; Direction générale des douanes et droits indirects

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