Danish goods are ranked number six on the list of copied products in Europe. So how do you protect your products? One of the easiest methods to use is customs surveillance. In this article, you can find out why customs surveillance might be useful as part of your IPR strategy.
Trading of counterfeit goods is a large problem in Europe. In a report from March 2022, Europol and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) estimate that 5.8 percent of all imported goods in the EU are counterfeit products, which amounts to a value of 119 billion Euro.
The US, France and Germany are among the countries in which most counterfeit goods occur, but according to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) Danish products are ranked number six on the list of countries, whose trademarks or designs have been copied. Statistics show that between 2017-2019, about three percent of all counterfeit products, which were intercepted by European customs officials, were copies of Danish goods.
It may therefore be a good idea to make use of customs surveillance, if you wish to protect your rights, says Stine Sønstebø, who is a trademark expert at Plougmann Vingtoft.
– Not only might your company lose money and reputation if your product is copied. Counterfeit products might also cause health issues if the products are, for example, medicinal products or cosmetics. It is therefore in the interest of both consumers and companies to stop counterfeiters. And customs surveillance is an effective tool.
What is customs surveillance?
When a customs surveillance is initiated, the customs authorities in Norway, Denmark and the EU will actively help you monitor trading involving your trademark, and at the same time it will provide you with the possibility to react immediately towards counterfeiters who attempt to import goods with your trademark into the EU. In the EU and Norway, customs surveillance can be arranged for one year at a time. In order to get started, you need to fill in a form which is available on skat.dk or on toll.no.
If the customs officials suspect, that a product is counterfeit, it will be sent for destruction, and the importer will be contacted. If the importer opposes the destruction, a case concerning counterfeiting of the product will be initiated. This means that you can commence proceedings against the importer for infringement of rights.
According to data from 2017-2019 from the OEDC and EUIPO, counterfeit goods most often occur in industries dealing with cosmetics, leather products, clothing, shoes and watches. Even though your company is not dealing with these products, it might still be a good idea to make use of customs surveillance:
– Customs surveillance is probably the cheapest and most effective way to protect your trademarks and designs. It is very important that you describe your product in as much detail as possible in order for the customs officials to be able to see, how your products differ from the counterfeit goods, says Stine Sønstebø.
Here are three reasons why customs surveillance can be an effective means against counterfeiters:
1. It is free of charge
It is free of charge to set up customs surveillance, if you do it yourself. If you would like to set up customs surveillance for several products, it may be a good idea to get advice and administrative assistance from an external adviser.
2. It is easy
In order to set up customs surveillance you only need to fill in and submit a form with information about the product to SKAT in Denmark eller Tolletaten in Norway. Hereafter your product will be listed in the databases at SKAT eller Tolletaten for one year, after which you can renew the application. If the customs authorities initiate a case concerning counterfeiting of your product, you will be informed.
3. It applies for all EU countries
You can apply for customs surveillance in specific countries, but if you submit an application in one EU country it will apply for all member states. The customs officials are responsible for destroying products, which are considered as counterfeit goods. This proactive approach gives you the possibility to concentrate on the development of your product – and leave the rest up to the customs officials.
However, you can not apply for customs surveillance in the EU, if you have not registered your trademarks or designs. Before you apply for customs surveillance, it is important, that the surveillance is part of an overall IPR strategy, where you take all the necessary precautions in order to protect your rights.
Plougmann Vingtoft’s experts have many years of experience in advising companies in all lines of business with respect to customs surveillance and protection against counterfeiters. Please contact us, if you would like us to help you enforce your rights.