EU law allows a regime of keeping goods in detention under customs control, when they are suspected of infringing industrial property rights.
Needless to say, it is important that rights must first be registered to justify the use of this regime.
Under this scheme, the procedure in France allows custom agents to retain imported goods by refusing any release for 10 days. Detention under customs may be initiated by a written request from the IPR holder, or on the own initiative of the custom agents.
The filing of a request for intervention of the customs is free of charge. The request is valid for one year, and renewable by a written request. As provided by law, when the goods suspected to be infringing are immobilized during a detention, the IPR holder must justify, within 10 working days, either of provisional measures or of the introduction of a legal action.
Within this period, the customs contact the right holder in order to have the goods appraised by an expert, generally the IP atorney of the right holder, to recognize whether or not the detention is justified and whether an infringement of industrial property rights is characterized.
Subsequently, according to the procedure, the holder can request the destruction of the goods in the absence of express objection from the importer. This is generally called the simplified destruction procedure. Alternatively or cumulatively, the holder may bring an action for infringement against the importer.
Actually, even without action by the owner of the IP rights, in some cases the customs authorities usually use their customs powers to destroy counterfeit goods, in obvious cases.
Thus, at the beginning of September this year, according to the provisions of the procedure, the customs office of Valencia (FR) has selected among the import declarations received, one particular from Turkey.
After checking the goods, the customs officers discovered window lift systems, door openings, and door handle parts. The customs announcement states that “none of the plastic packaging containing the car parts contained the wording “adaptable to “”, which suggests that the packages in question mentioned the names of the car trademarks.
The expertise of the holders of IP rights has recognized 3 740 spare parts as counterfeits. These counterfeits have been subject to a simplified destruction procedure.
The information was transmitted to the service within the territory of the recipient company, so that an inspection could be made on its premises, which enabled the seizure of 4 300 additional parts considered as counterfeits, which subsequently underwent a simplified destruction procedure.
In 2017, the French customs seized more than 8.4 million counterfeits articles in France.
Of course, the importer in good faith may request the intervention of an IP Attorney to make legitimate disputes and avoid having to cease his activity because of significant unjustified losses.