Customs seize over 10,000 Spiderman figures Counterfeit figures destroyed

During a customs control operation, officers from the Vienna Customs Office succeeded in removing over 10,000 counterfeit Spiderman figures from the market. The intended recipient of the consignment, which came by container into the EU via Hamburg and then by train to Austria, was a retailer in Vienna. However, the figures ended up being destroyed.

A customs control manager noticed the consignment due to inconsistencies in the customs declaration. On checking the container, various action figures were discovered. The packaging bore the lettering "Marvel" and contained Spiderman action figures, Spiderman on a motorbike and various accessories from the series.

The packaging alone revealed poor-quality features; the low price too, as well as direct dispatch to a comparatively small retailer, suggested to customs officers that this was case of product piracy. Moreover, the stated tariffs were too low. In the customs declaration, the value of the consignment was given as being USD 2,037.60. However, if these had been original goods, their value would have been approximately EUR 45,360 – around 25 times higher.

In addition, in the same consignment, besides Marvel products, toys and merchandise products of DC Comics were seized – these two different sellers would be hardly likely to send their competing products directly in one consignment. The holders of trademark rights requested destruction of the counterfeit goods in question. The Vienna Customs Office sent the toys for destruction at the Vienna waste incineration plant in Pfaffenau.

"In terms of the seizure of counterfeit goods in the EU, toys now rank in second place after cigarettes," declared Gerhard Marosi, counterfeiting expert at the Austrian Ministry of Finance, acknowledging the dangerous trend towards a growing number of fake toys. "The economic damage to the industry in Austria alone can be put at EUR 47 million a year," added Marosi, citing a study by the European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). "What is more, we know nothing about the production conditions and safety standards of these counterfeit toys – the health of our children in particular should have priority over such potentially extremely-dangerous bargains," continued Gerhard Marosi, pointing to the health risk that counterfeit toys may present.

The energy obtained from destroying the 50 boxes of action toy figures, having a volume of one tonne, can provide a household with electricity for three years and heating for a whole winter.

"At least this way, something good comes from these counterfeit toys," concludes Marosi. "Fakes also constitute a risk to consumers. Injuries caused by imitation children's toys which do not comply with applicable safety requirements and quality standards affect the youngest among us, who do not have any choice in the matter."   

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