HMRC and Counterfeit Goods
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Written on 23
An EU Regulation (1383/2003) authorises EU member states'
customs authorities, such as HMRC, to detain goods thought to be
The Regulation was implemented into UK law by The Goods
Infringing Intellectual Property Rights (Customs) Regulations 2004.
HMRC can detain suspected counterfeit goods, contact the likely rights
holder and the continued detention pending the rights holder's response.
to the law
HMRC's rules, adopted in June 2009, mean that HMRC will only
detain goods for 10 days unless the rights holder takes court action.
If the rights holder fails to take action within 10 days (or a further
10 days if requested), HMRC will release the goods.
If HMRC considers that it has identified infringing goods, it
will detain them. HMRC contacts the rights holder and gives it certain
information about the nature of the allegedly counterfeit goods. If
requested, further information can be given to the rights holder such
as the names and addresses of the importer and recipient of the goods
and the origin and provenance of goods.
In addition, the rights holder is entitled to inspect the
suspect goods. Following the inspection of the goods, the rights holder
must advise the relevant customs authority whether or not it is going
to commence court proceedings.
Failure to commence court proceedings means that the relevant
customs authority will release the goods back to the importer.
The company's inspection of the goods must take place within
10 working days of its notification by HMRC that the goods are being
held. An extension of a further 10 working days may be applied for.
The period for inspection for perishable goods is three
working days, with no possible extensions.
should rights holders do?
As a matter of course, companies should register their rights
with HMRC. The Regulations provide the option for rights holders to
file an 'Application for Action by Customs Authorities'. This form can
be completed by either the rights holder or its representative.
A variety of rights can be protected in this way, including
trade marks, design rights, copyright and patents.
This application should include the contact details of who is
to receive notification of detained goods and details of the goods that
are protected by the rights.
The application must also contain proof of rights, such as a
copy of the registered trade mark certificate.
Written by Thomas Mould
About the Author
Solicitors offer services and advice for litigation,
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