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Intellectual property | Brussels, 12 March 2018

China remains chief concern in latest EU report on the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights

The European Commission published today its latest report on the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights in countries outside the EU.

The report helps the Commission to update its list of "priority countries" and to focus its efforts and resources on the specific areas of concern with the aim of protecting European companies and consumers from counterfeiting and piracy worldwide. The report also highlights a particular problem with counterfeit pharmaceuticals and copyright piracy, both on and off-line.

China continues to be the top priority for the EU because of persistent and longstanding problems. Based on studies from the Commission and the OECD and European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), China remains the origin of most counterfeit and pirated goods arriving in the European Union. More than 80% of the seizures of counterfeit and pirated goods come from China or Hong Kong.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said: "Today's report highlights just some of the problems that EU companies and consumers face both in Europe and worldwide. Intellectual property theft – such as counterfeiting and piracy – stifles innovation and erodes confidence with our trading partners. This is a particular problem in China which still accounts for the vast majority of seized counterfeit and pirated goods, although some progress has been made. I hope that this report, along with our upcoming Counterfeiting and Piracy Watch-List, will be an incentive for other countries to act on this issue in their own jurisdictions."

India also remains a big concern for the Commission, in particular due to the lack of suitable protection for pharmaceutical products and also because India is one of the biggest producers of counterfeit pharmaceuticals.

Today’s report also highlights that Indonesia, India, Russia and Argentina apply unduly restrictive criteria for granting patents, undermining innovation and research and preventing investment in these economies and that in Brazil the procedures for the granting of patents in the pharmaceutical sector are not in compliance with international standards.

The report will also enable European firms, in particular smaller companies, to be aware of the threat of counterfeiting and piracy when engaging in business activities in or with certain countries and thus allow them to prepare themselves properly. This report should also be useful for authorities in countries outside the EU as a source of information.

This year the report puts more emphasis on online counterfeiting and piracy and the role free trade zones play in illicit trade. New empirical data shows that the share of small shipments, mostly by postal or by express services, containing counterfeits or pirated goods, keeps growing.

The trade routes in counterfeit and pirated goods are becoming increasingly complex and the information collected shows that counterfeiters and pirates have the ability to misuse high-risk free trade zones for intellectual property infringements before entering the EU market.

The report also shows that the scheme of legal protection for distinctive European food and drinks – the 'geographical indications' – has also been subject to abuse in countries outside the EU. This has caused significant economic losses for EU producers. For this reason, this year's document includes a dedicated section for the first time.


The Report is part of the European Commission's Strategy for the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights in Third Countries and was foreseen also in the Commission's Communication on A balanced IP enforcement system responding to today's societal challenges.

It is partly based on an EU survey on the protection and enforcement of IPR throughout the world, which was carried out in 2016 by the EU Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights (European Union Intellectual Property Office).

Communication: A balanced IP enforcement system responding to today's societal challenges

Strategy for the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights in Third Countries

The Consultation on watch-list