New EU Customs Regulation

Effective January 1st  2014, a new customs regulation came into force in the European Union, replacing  the existing regulation.

Regulation 608/2013 replaces Regulation 1383/2003, and sets out new procedures in relation to enforcement of intellectual property rights by Customs and gives  extended powers to detain ‘small consignments’ of goods sent into the EU.

The UK Border Force will continue, as under the old Regulation, to detain suspected infringing goods coming through seaports and airports and will notify IP rights owners. Under the existing ‘simplified procedure’, rights owners will seek the consent of the declarant or holder of the goods for destruction of the goods. If consent is not forthcoming within 10 days, there is deemed consent to destruction.

Here are t the significant changes under the new Regulation:

  • New rights protected: trade names, semiconductor topographies, utility models and circumvention devices will all now be covered, and the scope of the new Regulation will also cover similar marks and infringements under Articles 9(1)(b) and (c);
  • Compulsory simplified procedure: all Member States must implement a simplified procedure (already adopted by the UK and some other Member States);
  • Special procedure for small consignments: if right-holders opt in then, in certain circumstances, Customs will be able to destroy suspected counterfeit or pirate goods in small consignments without the need for the right-holder’s involvement; and
  • Use of information provided by customs: the new regulation will enable information provided by Customs to be used more widely by rights-holders.

The new customs regulation does not deal expressly with counterfeit goods in transit, ie goods shipped from a country outside the EU, through an EU port and which are supposedly destined for a third country outside the EU. The EU parliament is currently considering proposals to amend the substantive EU law on trade marks, to provide that counterfeit goods in transit are, in certain circumstances, infringing goods and could thus, be detained by Customs under the regulation.

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