A recent policy change from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) states that it will now release suspected counterfeit goods unless immediate court action is taken by the rights holders.
A HMRC spokeswoman confirmed the reversal in policy on the burden of proof in relation to goods stopped at borders. The policy is said to have been implemented due to successful court action against HMRC connected to this policy, as apparently HMRC were not complying with a European Council Regulation on customs behavior when dealing with this matter.
Until recently, HMRC has accepted a witness statement from a company as confirmation that seized goods infringe that company’s IP rights. However, they will now only seize such goods under direct court order. IP rights holders will have to take court action within 10 days or the goods will be released. Under request, the time that any suspected counterfeit goods can be detained for can be extended for a further 10 days.
Possible effects of this confirmed policy change could be a substantial increase in the number of counterfeit products entering the UK. Any brand owners will have to quickly identify counterfeit goods and then make use of court action.