Officials on both sides of the Atlantic are launching a major campaign to cut down on the number of counterfeit computer components being sold.

EU and US officials have released details of a joint initiative late last year in which more than 360,000 fake items were seized in just a fortnight.

The first customs operation took place in German airports including Frankfurt and Leipzig, in France's Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle airport and at Heathrow, as well as a number of hubs in the US, the officials said.

According to Reuters, "integrated circuits and computer components of over 40 trademarks including Intel, Cisco and Philips, worth more than $1.3 billion, were seized during the operation".

"Traffickers and counterfeiters have become much more sophisticated ... They are no longer confining themselves to trafficking in some of the traditional goods we used to see them in, such as footwear or handbags", US Customs and Border Protection Assistant Commissioner Dan Baldwin told the news service.

"There are increasing numbers with high-tech goods, goods that impact our critical infrastructure", he continued.

Officials are now to work with importers to find out where fake components originate, but they are already pointing the finger at China, where the majority of the counterfeits are coming from.

"We've identified a pretty significant problem, a fairly high risk for critical infrastructure", Baldwin said. "There will be criminal investigations."

Baldwin added the warning that the problem could affect all computer part manufacturers and said that "the industry needed to cooperate better to help them identify fakes".

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, says Reuters, the trade in pirated consumer goods has reached $200 billion a year, equivalent to 2% of world trade.