What the law says
Buying a counterfeit handbag abroad or picking up a copy DVD? Cheap, maybe, yes, but it could cost you dear.
Discover what is and is not permitted and the risks lying in wait for you.
What is counterfeiting and piracy?
Counterfeit and piracy products infringe intellectual property rights. But what is the difference between the two?
- Counterfeit = an imitation or reproduction of a recognisable element (such as the name, shape or logo) of a branded product that is being used without permission from the trademark holder. Examples? Clothes, handbags and scent.
- Piracy = a copy of a creation, made without permission from the copyright holder. Examples? CD’s, DVD’s and software.
What are the sanctions?
European and other legislation, e.g. European Regulation 608/2013 prohibit the importation of counterfeit and piracy products into the territory of the European Community.
What happens if you do it nonetheless?
- You buy counterfeit products while on holiday
Customs will probably not make a fuss about some sunglasses. For that is a counterfeit product in your own baggage, not intended for trading. But take care: a penalty can applyin some European countries. In Italy, for instance, you might pay a heavy penalty for being in possession of counterfeit products.
- You buy a counterfeit product on the internet
Customs has permission to seize and destroy your counterfeit product. The associated costs are for the trademark holder, but, in its turn, the trademark holder could charge themon to you, depending on the national law. In Belgium, it could also require damages, except if you are able to demonstrate that you purchased in good faith (for example, the website indicates no trademark, the price is credible, etc.). In our country, you do not risk a legal sanction as consumer. In other European countries, a punishment may well apply.
- You buy a big quantity of counterfeit goods
You could be regarded as a dealer importing counterfeit goods with bad intentions. You expose yourself to compensation claims and penal sanctions. Customs can seize anddestroy your counterfeit goods.
If you’d like to know more about counterfeit and the role of customs authorities, you can find more information on their website.
Both the Belgian customs authorities (FPS Finances) and the Economic Inspection (FPS Economy) play a role in fighting counterfeit. But there are also their organizations that do their part, both nationally and internationally. Two examples are Nanac and Euipo.