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After record seizures in 2023, the government announces a new plan to fight counterfeiting

After a “record” year in 2023 in terms of seizures, the executive wants to continue its momentum in its merciless fight against counterfeiting, particularly with a view to the Olympic Games.

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After record seizures in 2023, the government announces a new plan to fight counterfeiting

After a “record” year in 2023 in terms of seizures, the executive wants to continue its momentum in its merciless fight against counterfeiting, particularly with a view to the Olympic Games. The Minister for Public Accounts, Thomas Cazenave, presented a new government anti-counterfeiting plan on Friday in Aulnay-sous Bois (Seine-Saint-Denis). New, because this follows on from a first plan, launched in 2021, which “undeniably constitutes a success”, welcomed Thomas Cazenave. In 2023, the number of seizures has almost doubled, with 20.5 million items withdrawn from the French market, compared to 11.5 million in 2022 (and 9 million in 2021).

However, counterfeiting continues to develop, even taking new forms. “Offenders are structuring themselves into networks and adopting practices similar to those observed in other major trafficking areas such as tobacco and narcotics,” noted the delegate minister. In particular, small workshops assembling counterfeit products are appearing in the countries of the European Union. “We are seeing a form of “made in France” counterfeiting emerge,” underlined Thomas Cazenave. “We must therefore strengthen our responses and adapt them to this new threat,” he said.

Hence the detailed fight plan this Friday, “oriented towards the identification and dismantling of organized fraud networks”, and no longer just towards seizures. For example, the government says it wants to “strengthen cooperation between those involved in the fight against fraud”, in particular state services, the police, the gendarmerie and the Fraud Repression Department (DGCCRF). The goal: to carry out joint “hit” operations to dismantle fraud networks, like operations carried out in the fight against narcotics. “Particularly in the pre-Olympic Games period, where sales of counterfeit products risk increasing,” explained Thomas Cazenave.

Also read: Counterfeits, fraud… These risks looming over the nuclear industry

It is still necessary to identify, beforehand, the areas in which counterfeiters source and store their products. What the executive intends to tackle, by mapping the “hot spots” of counterfeiting. In this, he counts on the help of local residents. Before the Olympics, a web platform will be created allowing everyone to report points of sale of counterfeit products.

The other major pillar of this plan concerns the fight against counterfeiting on the internet, with online commerce having “become a preferred vector for the propagation of counterfeit goods”, points out the government, in particular via “dropshipping” sites. A network of 70 specially trained “cyber customs officers” will be deployed to track counterfeits on the internet.

These web customs officers will be invited in particular to use their new power of “digital injunction”, created by the law of July 18, 2023, which allows them to summon the operators of online platforms to be more vigilant regarding the products accessible on their Site (s. “They will also be able to ask a platform to delist a seller of counterfeit products, carry out surveys under a pseudonym on social networks, and go as far as the act of purchase to note the infringement,” developed Thomas Cazenave.

On this digital aspect, the State would like to be further helped by large e-commerce sites, such as Amazon. Customs will therefore embark on “a phase of structuring information exchanges with major online commerce platforms based on cooperation protocols”, in particular to combat the proliferation of counterfeit announcements, exchange information or even have seller accounts closed. “Discussions have already started with the major platforms, I am hopeful that they will be successful,” said Thomas Cazenave.

A challenge taken head-on by the minister, judging that counterfeiting is “a triple penalty”: “It is an economic scourge which penalizes our businesses and our public finances, with tax revenues which do not come in”, lamented the Minister of Public Accounts. There is also “a security issue, because counterfeiting finances criminal, mafia and terrorist networks”. Finally, “it is a health scourge, because most products do not respect environmental and health standards”. Especially since the first category of counterfeit goods seized in 2023 concerns games and toys for children and sporting goods (8.6 million items seized).

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