Cooperation with customs authorities

Ask the authorities for assistance

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As a business, you can request that the customs authorities look for counterfeited and pirated copies of your products when they enter the EU - for example, if you have a registered trademark, design, utility model, patent or an (unregistered) copyright. The service is free of charge and runs for a year at a time.

When requesting assistance from the customs authorities, it is a good idea to provide as much information as possible about your products, IP rights, transport routes, etc. In this way, the customs authorities will be in a better position to perform risk analyzes and identify infringing goods. You can either submit national application to member states or submit an EU application for selected member states.

Via this link to the website of the European Commission you will find:

  • the form for requesting the intervening of customs authorities against copies
  • the form for the extension of an existing request.

Application for action in Denmark can be submitted to:

The Danish Customs Agency

Customs Section II, Customs 20 Counterfeiting

Carlsensvej 8
4600 Køge
Tlf 7238 0110
Fax: 7237 1150
Mail: IPR@toldst.dk

 

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Detention of goods

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The Danish Customs Agency can also detain goods of its own accord – i.e. without a request for action from the right holder. This applies if the goods pose a risk to consumer safety or health or if organized crime is suspected. In such cases, the Danish Customs Agency will typically contact other authorities, such as the Danish Safety Technology Agency or the Police, for an assessment of whether or not the goods can be released.

The Customs Agency can also, on its own initiative, detain goods from non-EU countries suspected of being counterfeited or pirated. When a product has been detained, the Danish Customs Agency will contact your business and inform you of the detention. Hereafter, your business will have four days to submit a formal request for continued detention of the goods instead of release of the goods to the buyer.

If the Danish Customs Agency contacts you with a suspicion that detained goods are infringing your business’ trademark or other IP right, you will usually have 10 days to decide on the next step.

If your business finds that the detained goods infringe on your IP rights, you must initiate a court case within 10 days unless you agree on a settlement solution with the importer of the goods. Otherwise, the Danish Customs Agency will release the goods to the importer. If the importer does not respond to your inquiry, you can request that customs authorities destroy the concerned items. In this case it is important to be aware that your business will be liable for the costs for storage and destruction of the goods – and possibly also for damages to the importer, in case it later turns out that the products were genuine.

If your business do not want to pursue the case - or if you do not respond to the customs authorities' inquiry - the customs authority shall release the goods.

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What can you do yourself?

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As a right holder you can contribute to the customs authorities' efforts against counterfeited and pirated goods in several ways. Below, we have listed three things you can do;

  1. Submit an application for action to the customs authorities

In the EU, it is possible to submit an application for action, so the customs authorities will look for counterfeited and pirated copies of your products, when they enter the EU. You can either submit a general application for customs intervention for certain EU countries (a national request) or for a selection of EU countries (an EU request). You will find the link to the forms here (in Danish).

The EU Register, COPIS, is the focal point for the customs authorities’ efforts against counterfeit and pirated products throughout the EU. The registry contains a list of all IP rights and products which right holders have requested that the customs authorities to be aware of.  

The information in COPIS will provide knowledge to the customs authorities about which product categories to focus on. The information in COPIS will also form the basis for the contact between right holders and all the involved authorities.

  1. Keep the customs authorities informed

Many right holders have extensive knowledge about counterfeiting and piracy of their products. It can be in your interest to provide the customs authorities with as much knowledge as possible about where the fake products are produced, where they are sold and how they can be distinguished from the genuine products.

The customs authorities can act effectively to information about a particular shipment, if the right holder can provide specific information about the transport – e.g. the flight number or the name of a ship.

In Denmark, such information can be provided by e-mail to ipr@toldst.dk.

In addition, the Danish Customs Agency often participates in meetings, seminars or collaboration forums with rights owners and stakeholder organizations.

  1. Follow up on the case

When the customs authorities have detained good suspected of counterfeiting and piracy, they will contact the recipient as well as the right holder registered in COPIS. In some cases, they will also contact right holders not listed in the registry.

The right holder will receive images of the detained products that will make it possible for them to determine, if the products are counterfeit or pirated.

If the right holder has confirmed to the customs authority that a product is fake – and the recipient opposes destruction - it is up to the right holder to contact the recipient to seek a settlement solution or to initiate a court case. The right holder also has the opportunity to file a police report. In Denmark, police reports on IPR crime can be filed to the State Prosecutor for Serious Economic and International Crime (SØIK) by email to saoek@ankl.dk. For example, you can use this standard form.   

Once there is a final court decision, the Danish Customs Agency has a duty to either destroy or release the detained products.

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Assistance from customs authorities outside EU

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In addition to requesting assistance from the customs authorities in the EU, it is also possible to apply for assistance from e.g. the Chinese customs authorities. Your business can apply for such assistance based on a registered IP right in China. That way, your business can make it more difficult and riskier for Chinese producers of counterfeit and pirated products to export such infringing products out of China.  

Many right holders have experienced that producers of counterfeit and pirated products will register the trademark belonging of the right holder in China (often also in Chinese language) – and often the criminals will also apply for assistance from the Chinese customs authorities. In such cases, the right holder risks that he will be unable to export his genuine products (produced in China) out of China, as the genuine goods will be detained by the Chinese customs authorities - based on the application for customs assistance filed by the counterfeiter. Your business can prevent such a situation by registering your trademark in China (also in Chinese) - and by submitting an application for customs action to the Chinese customs authorities.

Your business can seek guidance – free of charge – on IPR protection and enforcement in China from "China IPR SME Helpdesk". The guidance is targeted at small and medium-sized enterprises and is funded by the European Commission. See more here. Similar helpdesks are available for South America and Southeast Asia via the same link.

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