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What is counterfeit and what is the role of Customs?

If it’s too good to be true, it’s probably not real. This rule also applies to counterfeit goods. Don’t be deceived, even if it is presented as ‘the real deal’.

  • What are counterfeit and pirated goods?

    Counterfeit goods are imitations and reproductions of branded products. Pirated goods are one or more copies which have been made without the consent of the holder of the property right.

    Counterfeit and pirated goods constitute an infringement of the intellectual property right.

    The goods involved are:

    • counterfeit goods (fake designer clothes)

    • pirated goods (copies of CDs, DVDs, etc.)

    • goods that infringe a patent (medicine) or a designation of origin (wine)

    • trade names in so far as they are protected as exclusive property rights under national law

    • topographies of semiconductor products

    • utility models and devices which are primarily designed, produced or adapted for the purpose of enabling or facilitating circumvention of technological measures

  • Which sectors are most affected by counterfeit and pirated goods?

    All sectors are affected by these goods. However, the following sectors stand out :

    • medicine
    • cosmetics
    • cigarettes
    • toys
    • drinks
    • food
    • mechanical and electronic parts
    • CD’s
    • software
    • mobile phones
    • clothes
    • ...
  • Are counterfeit goods dangerous?

    Both counterfeit and pirated goods constitute a danger to your health and your everyday life.

    Imagine for one moment:

    • taking a medicine that does not contain the active principle and is therefore ineffective 

    • having a terrible allergic reaction to a cosmetic face cream

    • being involved in a car accident because your brake pads refuse to work

    • travelling on a plane whose windows are three times less resistant than the standard

    • your mobile phone exploding when charging its battery

    • inhaling two or three times more nicotine and tar than indicated on the packet when smoking cigarettes.

    Moreover, counterfeit and pirated goods are a real plague for the national economies and an actual threat to employment within the European Union.

  • How can counterfeit and pirated goods be traced?

    Be sure to check out these tips and tricks:

    • abnormally low prices

    • inferior quality and finish of the product

    • unusual place of sale

    • spelling mistakes on the packaging or in the instructions

  • What role does the Customs administration play in the fight against counterfeiting and piracy?

    The Customs administration plays an important role in the fight against counterfeiting and piracy pursuant to a European regulation applicable to all Member States of the European Union. The Customs administration is entitled to take action if counterfeit and pirated goods are imported, exported or re-exported, and is also authorized to intervene on the national territory.

  • What are the possible consequences and penalties if I carry counterfeit goods?

    If you do decide to bring counterfeit or pirated goods, you should know that any infringement can be punished by:

    • the confiscation and destruction of the seized goods, as well as the payment of the related handling and destruction costs.

    • a claim for damages by the trademark right holder, whether or not by means of judicial proceedings

    • in certain cases even

      • a prison sentence

      • a fine

    One piece of advice: always buy goods through the official sales channels!

  • More info on counterfeit goods ...

    If you want more information concerning this topic, please visit the website of the FPS Economy.