According to the latest data from the U.S. Customs and OECD, imports of counterfeit and pirated goods have grown over the years to reach EUR 119 billion in 2019, representing 1.5% of all goods entering the USA and 5.8% entering the EU.
As the flow of counterfeit and pirated goods remains a persistent problem around the world, brands, as well as enforcement agencies, are becoming increasingly aware and attentive of these problems.
To fight these threats and to ensure strict control of the cross-border movement of illicit goods, many governments have implemented border enforcement measures that provide tools to intellectual property rights holders to protect and fight infringers.
In this scenario, customs have presented a major role in combating counterfeiting and preventing unfair competition, illicit trade and guaranteeing equal market access to all business actors.
Notwithstanding that, customs officers often lack sufficient expertise to be able to identify goods that infringe a company’s intellectual property rights. Therefore, it is very important that brands affected by the importation of counterfeit goods closely cooperate with the customs authorities in the spirit of mutual trust to prevent the importation of such products.
Fundamental to any effort, companies can enforce their rights by submitting a recordal application of their trademarks before customs authorities. This recordal gives Customs authorities easy access to trademark information, resulting in the identification of fakes and infringed products.
This is accomplished by also providing a guide that helps officers to identify legitimate and infringing products allowing the detection, seizure and destruction of counterfeit goods crossing borders.
In addition to that, an important element in maintaining effective border enforcement is to provide training to customs and border police officials with resources to create awareness within the enforcement community. This is a great opportunity for the IP owners to assist authorities by providing relevant information about their businesses and working closely with the appropriate agency.
Although customs authorities can usually seize suspected counterfeit goods of their own initiative, these tools effectively jump-start the process, by requiring the border authorities to keep a watch for counterfeits entering their territory.
Infringers are constantly adapting the way they operate and the sheer volume of goods that cross borders makes it extremely difficult to identify goods that infringe IP rights. Therefore, working to prevent the importation and sale of counterfeit is no easy task for brands, especially when doing business across the world.
In order to reduce the risk of being targeted by counterfeiters, brands must develop and implement a formal border protection strategy working closely with customs authorities.
The anti-counterfeiting tools implemented by the government have proven to be very effective measures for brands to succeed in preventing counterfeit goods from being introduced in a specific market, accordingly, increasing their reputations and consumers from this serious issue.