Global pandemic fails to stop the successful fight against counterfeiting in 2020

Brother raid of printer supplies in Germany 2019

2020 has been a difficult year for everyone, and although restrictions have been placed on normal legal activities by the COVID-19 virus, criminal gangs have continued to manufacture and ship counterfeit printer supplies.

However, ICCE members have remained active in 2020, working hard around the EMEA region to carry out investigations and support raids, prosecutions, and online takedowns to protect consumers from fake products.

Close working partnerships with law enforcement agencies deliver successful enforcement actions

ICCE members could not have enjoyed success without the close cooperation and support of law enforcement and trading standards organisations around the region.

One of our members had particular success working with local enforcement agencies in Africa, with 25 enforcement actions in 2020, including the seizure of goods from a repeat offender in Nigeria worth $1.4 million, and counterfeit goods to the tune of $700,000 seized from an operation in Uganda involving a Chinese syndicate.  

Four of our members alone reported nearly 350 enforcement actions, including nearly 100,000 online takedowns, and more than 1.5 million products, parts and packaging seized in 2020, putting a serious dent in the operations of organised crime gangs.

East Africa saw increased activity with ICCE members in collaboration with Tanzanian authorities cracking down on retail stores and so-called product completion centres (PCC) in and around Dar Es Salaam. You can read more about this success story here.  

In Germany following complaints from online customers and after months of investigations,  two successful raids were carried out on warehouses which led to  thousands of counterfeit goods and fake retail packaging boxes, including fake holograms and counterfeit products being  seized – again a success which was a result of ICCE members working with local law enforcement partners.

Another example was a raid by Turkish police in Istanbul which resulted in the seizure of thousands of counterfeit items for  printers as well as packaging materials and labels.

Working to enhance consumer and corporate protection

In addition to work “on the ground”, ICCE has continued to collaborate with partners in the fight against counterfeiting. A good example of this collaborative working is the alliance ICCE formed with TRACIT at the beginning of 2020.

ICCE has actively participated in the Digital Services Act (DSA) consultation which was launched by the European Commission during 2020. Once implemented, the DSA is intended to harmonise e-commerce across the EU. Although there is still work to be done, notably implementing a more proactive “take down, stay down regime”, ICCE welcomed the rebalancing of responsibilities and obligations of internet service providers regarding traceability of traders, the creation of a Trusted Flagger regime requiring ISPs to respond to notifications from certain specified organisations, and the harmonisation of the notice and takedown procedures across the EU with respect to reporting of infringing content.

Throughout 2020 ICCE also published articles calling for tighter controls for a UK/US Free Trade Deal and anti-counterfeiting measures as part of post BREXIT border controls.

Rounding off the year, ICCE promoted a checklist for companies buying printer supplies as part of the Underwriters Laboratories’ “Be Safe Buy Real” campaign in November. During the campaign week we jointly launched an infographic on consumer safety online along with our own supporting material to help corporate and government purchasing departments.

Looking forward to 2021

ICCE members will continue to collaborate with law enforcement agencies and other partners, sharing intelligence information on counterfeiters, ​and initiating joint industry raids and enforcement activities. ICCE members will also continue their efforts in training, education and in raising awareness of the counterfeit threat.

However, we could not do any of this without the support of our partners in governments, law enforcement agencies, consumer groups and NGO bodies across the EMEA region, to whom we give our thanks and best wishes for 2021.