Generally, counterfeit goods are sold under a trademark which is tantamount to the original and protected brand owner’s trademark for the same goods. This is done without the authorization or approval of the trademark owner. It is quite prevalent amongst several well-known brands; whereby it is extremely evident that such goods are a fraudulent imitation of something else. In such cases, counterfeit consumer goods are infringing the rights of a trademark holder. To prevent these goods from being imported, customs has a key role.
One of the recent cases in 2012 regarding counterfeited products involves the e-commerce leader in the United Kingdom called Amazon. A Natural News investigation has confirmed that Amazon.co.uk (AMZN) is functioning as a retail “front” for an increasing list of dietary supplement counterfeiters who profit by exploiting Amazon’s trust factor to sell fake products to unsuspecting Amazon customers. This counterfeit operation does not appear to be the intention of Amazon itself. Rather, it is a result of Amazon’s inability to adequately police the various third-party sellers who sell products through the site.
Regulation (EU) No 608/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 June 2013 in Strasbourg – concerning customs enforcement of intellectual property rights – offers a solution to this ever-growing problem. It is binding and directly applicable in all Member States. Council Regulation (EC) No 1383/2003 was thoroughly reviewed to cater for such counterfeited goods and give competent authorities extended powers to keep pirated goods on the border of EU countries. As stated in Regulation No 608/2013 “The marketing of goods infringing intellectual property rights does considerable damage to right-holders, users or groups of producers, and to law-abiding manufacturers and traders. Such marketing could also be deceiving consumers, and could in some cases be endangering their health and safety. Such goods should, in so far as is possible, be kept off the Union market and measures should be adopted to deal with such unlawful marketing without impeding legitimate trade. ”
The new regulation shall apply from 1st January, 2014 where customs officials will be given specialized training by their State (in cooperation with the Commission) in order to ensure the correct implementation of this Regulation. In fact, this Regulation contains procedural rules for customs authorities. Destruction of goods infringing intellectual property rights will also be made mandatory in all Member States. In contrast, under the old regulation, it was up to each Member State to determine whether to adopt this policy. The new regulation shall aim to increase the range of intellectual property rights infringements covered, adjust procedures in order to reduce administrative burdens and costs and include measures to ensure that the interests of legitimate traders are protected.
Trafficking in illicit goods is of great concern around the world and the EU is fully committed to effectively enforcing these rights and promoting higher standards of protection worldwide. By taking preventative measures to stop goods from entering the EU market, customs automatically contribute to economic growth, discourage people from being responsible for organized crimes and protect the health and safety of millions of consumers.