One of OLAF’s main focuses is to investigate cases involving counterfeit goods from outside the EU and intellectual property rights (IPR).
Crime in this field, which generates vast illicit profits and huge losses of tax revenues due to the black market in fake goods, has increased dramatically in recent years. It harms the European economy by damaging legitimate businesses and stifling innovation, putting many jobs at risk in Europe.
More often than not counterfeiting poses serious risks to the environment and the health and safety of citizens.
What does OLAF do?
The authorities in each EU country are responsible for enforcing EU law to tackle counterfeiting.
But to increase the efficiency of these efforts, and especially tackle international networks bringing counterfeit and pirated goods into the EU, and well as dismantle illegal factories, OLAF has powers to carry out administrative investigations. These sometimes involve participation in investigations run outside the EU.
Due to limited resources, we only work on major cases involving counterfeit goods that pose a risk to the environment or public health and safety.
Recent examples include:
- illicit refrigerant gases – €10 million worth of illicit refrigerant gases seized. October 2021 - Press release
- fake alcoholic beverages – a targeted action led by OLAF as part of a joint Europol-Interpol operation. July 2020 - Press release
- COVID-19-related medicine/equipment (face masks, medical devices, disinfectants, sanitisers, medicines, test kits) December 2020 - Press release, May 2020 - Press release
You can find many more stories of success in tackling counterfeit goods in our press releases.
Intellectual property rights
To improve the Commission-wide effort on counterfeits, we are developing a partnership with the industrial sectors represented in the European Observatory on Infringements of IPR.
If you suspect intellectual property rights are being violated in a way that could impact EU public funds (revenue or spending), or harm the environment or public health and safety:
- Download & fill in this form
- Send it to:
European Anti-Fraud Office
Unit B.2 Illicit Trade, Health and Environment - Operations and Investigations
B-1049 Brussels- Belgium
We will assess whether there is a need for an OLAF investigation.
Rightholders who seek to protect their rights may also send a national application form or Union application form to the relevant customs authorities (see articles 3–9 and 29 in Council Regulation (EU) No 608/2013).
- Regulation 515/97
- Art.36 of Regulation (EU) No 608/2013
- Regulation (EU) No 1352/2013
- Customs mutual administrative assistance (arrangements for participating in investigations in non-EU countries).