Legal framework and terminology


Here you can read about the various types of intellectual property rights and find links to the most relevant provisions in relation to counterfeiting and piracy.




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On this website, we use the terms ”counterfeiting and piracy” about trademarks or products that are too close copies of other businesses’ trademarks or products and that therefore infringe the rights of those businesses. Such right can e.g. be trademarks, designs, patents or copyrights. These type of rights are also called intellectual property rights or in short just IPR or IP-rights.

Intellectual property rights help promote innovation and creativity in society. This is because the person or business who creates art, paintings, music, literature, inventions, designs, logos, etc. can obtain an exclusive right for it. The exclusive right allows right holders to make money from their creations. An inventor can e.g. choose to sell his/her invention to a large business. The exclusive right prevents others from exploiting or stealing the idea without the right holder's permission. The exclusive right lasts for a certain period and can be considered a reward for the creative effort.

The exclusive rights are statutory in several laws, for example the Copyright Act, the Trade Marks Act, the Design Act, the Patent Act, etc. You will find an overview of the laws here.

These laws offer different types of protection. A product may well be protected by several types of intellectual property rights at the same time.

For example, pharmaceuticals are a product type that is often protected by several types of intellectual property rights. The drug itself can be protected by a patent; either covering a particular method of manufacturing the drug, the active ingredient itself or the use of the drug. The design of the tablets may be design-protected. In addition, the name of the drug - and the name of the business behind - it can be protected with trademarks. Also, the accompanying instruction for use of the drugs will typically be protected by copyright.

Parallel imports
Counterfeit and pirated products are sometimes confused with parallel imports, but the terms are not identical.

Parallel import means, in short, that the dealer buys genuine goods in another country and imports them into Denmark. Depending on from where to where the parallel import happens, it may be fully legal. Legal parallel imports can often benefit consumers in the form of lower prices. The ‘Normal’ chain store is an example of a parallel importing business.

Parallel import is based on the principle of consumption. Original goods, which have been brought on the market legally, may normally be resold without the permission of the rights owner. In other words, the rights of the rights holder are exhausted (consumed) through the original sale.

When a product is sold in a country within the EU/EEA, it may be freely sold in the entire EEA, which consists of the countries in the European Union together with Iceland, Norway and Lichtenstein. If the product has not been sold in the EEA, it may not be sold in the EU without permission from the rights holder. If so, it is a case of illegal parallel import.

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The sanctions in case of IPR violation include among other things:

IPR infringers can be sentenced by the courts to pay damages. In general, damages are calculated based on the loss suffered by the infringed party, but may also include compensation for the unlawful use. Finally, damages may also cover non-financial damage.

Fines and imprisonment
A convicted IPR criminal may also be ordered to pay a fine or sentenced to prison. The sanctions for violating copyright law, trademark law, design law, patent law or utility model law can be an 18-month prison sentence, if the circumstances are aggravating. Severe violations are punishable by prison terms up to 6 years. This presupposes that the violation was intentional. Fines may be given in cases of gross negligence.

Goods that are deemed counterfeited and pirated shall generally be destroyed.

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