Fighting intellectual property crime is a key priority for law enforcement authorities in safeguarding consumers against dangerous and substandard products and tackling the criminal networks involved in these low risk/high revenue illegal activities.
Europol supports competent law enforcement authorities in preventing and combating organised crime associated with intellectual property rights infringements.
In 2015, during an international operation coordinated by Europol (In Our Sites VI), nearly one thousand websites that were illegally selling counterfeit merchandise online to consumers were seized by law enforcement authorities. Operational activities tackled the sale of counterfeit goods (including intellectual property (IP) trademark infringements) and online piracy (IP copyright infringements) on e-commerce platforms and social networks.
In November 2015, Europol supported a massive 12-day international action (Silver Axe), during which 350 inspections of containers were carried out at major ports and airports in seven countries. As a result, law enforcement agencies from Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Spain and the Netherlands discovered 190 tonnes of illegal or counterfeit pesticides.
In an INTERPOL-Europol coordinated initiative to protect public health and safety (Operation OPSON V), between November 2015 and February 2016, more than 10,000 tonnes and one million litres of hazardous fake food and drink were seized in operations across 57 countries. Involving police, customs, national food regulatory bodies and partners from the private sector, actions were carried out at shops, markets, airports, seaports and industrial estates.
A number of arrests were made worldwide throughout the above operations and further investigations are still continuing. One of the main aims remains the same: to identify and disrupt the organised crime networks behind the trafficking in fake goods and enhance cooperation between the involved law enforcement and regulatory authorities. Working in cooperation with the private sector to fight IP crime was key to achieving the successes seen in these operations.