Often, we like to look at the weekly goings-on in the European rapid alerts system to see the kinds of products that are being withdrawn from markets right now.
Week 43 (23 Oct) was a particularly testing one with many automotive manufacturers featuring. In fact, of the 39 alert submissions, eight related to motor vehicles – all different products with serious risks.
These alerts were submitted by a variety of countries including Germany (3), Bulgaria (2), and Portugal, Poland and the UK with one apiece. Countries of origin included France (3), Belgium (1), Republic of Korea (1), Turkey (1), Germany (1) and the UK (1).
Technical defects were nothing unusual with the likes of steering components, starter generators and fuel pumps the root cause of the recall notifications.
In contrast to the volume of motor vehicles recalled is items that fall into the childcare and play category, where 19 separate recordings were made. Of the 19, 13 were categorised as toys and six as childcare articles and equipment.
Looking at the toys in isolation, eight were cited because they posed a choking hazard due to small detachable parts featuring while four posed a chemical risk. The remainder were notified simply under injuries. Interestingly only two of the 19 products were counterfeit, with 17 unknown.
Counterfeiting has been an ongoing problem across Europe for decades. The EU strengthened its legislation on the enforcement of intellectual property rights and now provides for non-criminal sanctions and measures against the practice.
Improving collaboration with in-country law enforcement has been a priority, and the European Commission is working with countries to tackle the criminal aspects of counterfeiting and piracy. In 2011, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by major online platforms and rights holders to prevent offers of counterfeit goods from appearing online. In 2016, the MoU was revised and signed again to include KPIs to track and measure its success.
In August this year, the Commission published its findings on the success of the campaign and confirmed the removal of counterfeit goods from online marketplaces between June 2017 and October 2019.
Safety Gate continues to report items as unknown when asked to specify if the product is legitimate. However, it is hard to believe that Member States and those tasked with reporting these products cannot decipher whether or not they are counterfeit. That said, what it does suggest is that counterfeiting is being acted upon, with fewer recordings making the data tables.
The Commission’s MoU is recognised as a good example of an industry-led initiative in the intellectual property area and has been discussed in meetings with the World IP Organisation (WIPO) Advisory Committee.
An excerpt from a report on the MoU said that “online counterfeiting is a moving target; technology and business models used by counterfeiters are constantly changing”.
What does this mean for the good businesses of the world who want to meet the demands of their consumers but not with counterfeit product? Do your due diligence and understand your supply chain. And if you do fall foul, then there is a solution that can be applied at speed to protect your reputation. Recalls are not the end of the world, and when done properly, they can actually improve your image