Customs enforcement of intellectual property rights

A new customs regulation came into effect on 1 January 2014, which strengthens the powers of customs officials to detain suspected counterfeit and pirated goods at EU borders. It also introduces a new procedure for the treatment of ‘small consignments’. There are important differences from the previous regime, which rights holders need to be aware of.

As previously, the new customs regulation applies to infringing goods being imported or exported across the external borders of the European Economic Association. Customs check for potential infringements by comparing the information provided by the rights holder with that provided by the importer. Where they suspect an infringement, customs will detain the goods. Customs will invite the rights holder to inspect the detained goods and to provide a written opinion as to whether the goods are counterfeit or pirated and the reasons why they infringe.

In common with most EU member states, the UK operates a ‘simplified procedure’ as an alternative to infringement proceedings. By this procedure, the rights holder may secure consent for destruction of the goods from the declarant. There is a presumption of consent if the declarant fails to respond to such a request. Customs will release the goods if proceedings have not been initiated or a settlement reached within 10 days…

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