The Netherlands, as the “gateway to Europe”, is one of the most important transit countries for goods from around the world. There are frequent cases of imitation, illegal copying, parallel import and other forms of infringement.
The customs authorities can seize imitation goods or goods obtained through piracy at the European Union border in order to give the holder of an intellectual property right the opportunity to take legal action against this. The customs authorities may intervene automatically, but also on request. The latter option in particular is an effective preventive weapon against infringement of intellectual property rights. Our lawyers submit requests of this type for many of our clients.
A request of this type informs the customs authorities of the intellectual property rights and the products, allowing them to distinguish more easily between the original products and the imitation products. In addition, they will be more aware of the importation of unauthorised imitations of the products.
Our lawyers have excellent contacts with the Dutch and Belgian customs authorities. The lawyers note that the customs authorities are proactive and intercept increasing quantities of plagiarism from outside the EU. This is a positive development. Our experts are experienced in the submission of such requests to take action. They attach great importance to explaining to the customs authorities precisely what to look out for in order to be able to determine whether a product has been copied or obtained through piracy.
After fulfilling the request, the customs authorities will inform the relevant customs offices in the Netherlands and ask them to look out in particular for any importation of unauthorised copies of the product within the European Union. The customs authorities have developed a system which also alerts their foreign colleagues to the request.
If the customs authorities suspect that someone is infringing intellectual property rights with a consignment of goods, it will seize this consignment or suspend the release thereof and inform us accordingly. Our lawyers then have three working days to investigate whether or not an infringement has taken place. If so, the customs authorities will then, at our request and after releasing them from any liability, pass on to us the details of the addressee and the sender. Proceedings must then be instigated within ten working days of notification. This deadline may be extended once by ten working days. If this deadline passes without action, the customs authorities will release the goods once more. The civil proceedings serve to destroy the products or to take action. As well as the civil action, the right holder may also decide to submit a possible declaration to the Economic Investigation Service (Economische Controle Dienst – ECD). The ECD will pass on the case to the Public Prosecutor's Office (Openbaar Ministerie – OM) for criminal proceedings. The OM is authorised to pursue this if necessary. The OM will do this if the safety or health of the consumer is compromised.
Arnold + Siedsma will relieve you of the concern of submitting requests to the customs authorities and will ensure that your customs authority requests are extended in a timely manner.