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, Vienna Biggest seizure of counterfeit luxury watches in Austria, with an equivalent original value totalling EUR 15 million

Following their sensational seizure in mid November of six tonnes of counterfeit goods valued at EUR 5.2 million, airport customs officers have uncovered yet another audacious case of product piracy. Sixty-two sports holdalls registered for customs clearance attracted attention due to their considerable total weight of 1.5 tonnes. Furthermore, neither the packing list nor an invoice could be presented. Moreover, customs officers considered the type of packaging used to be unusual for the sports holdalls declared. A subsequent customs check revealed the actual content of the consignment.

Contrary to the indications given by the senders, the main part of the consignment in fact consisted of watches, shoes, handbags and tracksuits of various luxury brands. In total, 17 brand proprietors were affected by these counterfeit products.

"Through their professional work, our customs officers are making a valuable contribution to Austria as a centre for business, protecting consumers. They are on the front line in a number of battles, including the fight against product piracy," declared Austrian Finance Minister Blümel. "I wish to express my thanks for their important work and congratulate them on this sensational seizure," he added.

Biggest seizure of fake luxury watches in Austria

869 of the counterfeit goods seized, numbering approximately 2,400 in total, were fake luxury watches. Based on the retail selling price for watches of the luxury brands counterfeited in the consignment, the equivalent original value can be assumed to total EUR 15 million. As a result, this consignment at the same time represents the biggest seizure of counterfeit luxury watches ever made in Austria.

783 pairs of designer shoes were revealed as counterfeits of eminent designer brands. A further 510 tracksuits purported to be those of an eminent sports brand.

A Chinese trading company arranged for these counterfeit products, such as the luxury watches, designer shoes and designer handbags, as well as branded tracksuits, to be processed via a transport company in Hong Kong, which forwarded the goods via Taiwan to Austria. Austria was only to serve as a hub; the ultimate destination of the 1.5 tonnes of counterfeit goods was Bratislava in Slovakia. Further details on the architects of the plan and the structure behind the fraud are the subject of ongoing investigations.

Number of counterfeit goods seized by customs in 2019 ten times higher than in 2018

According to research by the OECD and the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), product forgeries are steadily on the increase, and this trend is also evident in Austria. While, in 2018, customs seizures numbered 760, in 2019, this number was multiplied fourfold to 3,000, and indeed the number of individual articles seized grew tenfold; from just under 40,000 in 2018, the number of counterfeit items rose to over 400,000 in 2019.