Using Customs to Fight Counterfeiting in Singapore: A Case Study

shutterstock_118547785The Customs can often work as the first line of defense, when companies are dealing with counterfeiters. However, not many SMEs are aware of the different cooperation opportunities with the customs. Thus, today’s blog post focuses on how the SMEs can use the customs in order to protect their IP in Singapore, one of the busiest ports in the  world. In order to give practical advice , the blog-post discusses a case-study on customs cooperation in Singapore. 

Singapore’s port is one of the world’s busiest ports and therefore a major transit point for imports and exports between Europe and Asia. EU exporters in a number of sectors have set up distribution centers in Singapore’s harbor from where they serve the wider region. As Singapore’s port is a major transport hub, it is also at high risk of shipments of counterfeits. To promote vigilance and bolster the safety and security of trade, the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (ESFTA) contains provisions to strengthen cooperation in the field of Customs. In particular, the ESFTA will facilitate the granting of assistance based on reasonable suspicion of an operation being in breach of customs legislation and will promote greater exchange of information between authorities.

European SMEs can liaise with Customs to fight against counterfeiting of their products. The Singapore Customs is a governmental agency of the Ministry of Finance and their objective is the implementation of customs and trade enforcement measures including the checking and detainment of suspected infringing goods crossing the border. The Singapore Customs has the authority to detain imports, exports and re-exports of IPR- infringing goods. Continue reading “Using Customs to Fight Counterfeiting in Singapore: A Case Study” »

Dealing with Counterfeiters in China’s Cosmetics Market

cosmeticsDespite major improvements in China’s IP laws and regulations in recent years, counterfeiting is still commonplace in the country and European SMEs wishing to do business in China need to adopt robust IP strategies in order to succeed on China’s lucrative market. In today’s blog post, we are taking a closer look at what are some extra IP protection measures besides registering your IP in China that European SMEs, engaged in cosmetics industry, can take to minimize the risks of counterfeiting. 

Introduction

As with companies in any economic sectors, cosmetics firms have much to gain from early protection of their IPR. Registering IP with Chinese authorities and customs before beginning any type of business activity in the country potentially saves SMEs lot of money as being able to build strong cases against any local firms which may try to steal their IP is only possible when IP is registered in China. Many would-be infringers, however, will move straight to counterfeiting and begin to create knockoff products in the hopes of profiting from SMEs hard work. In these cases, early IP registration is not always enough. Instead, complementary to early IP registrations, SMEs should also adopt a strategy which seeks to defeat counterfeiters through both attrition (by making counterfeiting extremely difficult to accomplish) and offensive action (by coordinating with authorities to conduct raids and launch investigations to halt infringement).

“Soft” Prevention Methods: IPR registrations, online sweeps, and consumer education

An SME’s first step in fighting counterfeiting should always be prevention, halting counterfeiters before they have a chance to create fake products, which will erode an SME’s profit margins and public goodwill. To this end, nothing is more effective than registering IP early. Registering trade marks, industrial designs, patents, etc. with the relevant Chinese authorities can give SMEs powerful legal recourses in the case of an infringement. For larger counterfeit manufacturers with proper factories capable of churning out thousands of counterfeit products a day, the risk of seizure of assets by administrative agencies or customs and awards of damages (or jail time) from People’s Courts pose a significant deterrent. Continue reading “Dealing with Counterfeiters in China’s Cosmetics Market” »

Taking Action Against Trademark Infringement in Indonesia

shutterstock_81193486-520x345Today’s blog post has been kindly drafted for us by our IPR SME Helpdesk expert Mr. Somboon  Earterasarun from Tilleke & Gibbins. Mr Earterasarun gives an excellent overview on how to fight against trade mark infringements in Indonesia. 

Indonesia uses a “first-to-file” system, under which trademark owners must register their trademarks before they are able to take action against infringers for trademark infringement. The earlier your trademarks are registered and the wider their scope of protection, the better chance you have to exercise your rights and protect your intellectual property (IP).

As a trademark owner facing infringement of your IP rights in Indonesia, there are a number of important considerations to be aware of, and you have various means of recourse available to you. Continue reading “Taking Action Against Trademark Infringement in Indonesia” »

The Last (or First) Line of Defense: Using Customs to Protect your IPR in China

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customs1Businesses in Europe have increasingly benefited from Customs authorities acting to prevent counterfeit products from entering their borders – seizures of products infringing on others intellectual property (IP) make news stories around Europe every week. Not many businesses, however, realise that unlike most countries the Chinese Customs authorities not only have the power to examine and seize criminal imports, but also exports. China Customs have the authority to protect IP rights by confiscating infringing goods and imposing fines on infringers. If the infringement of IP rights exceeds a certain threshold, then the Customs authorities will also arrange for criminal proceedings to be brought against the infringing party.

The Customs IP Regulations provide that IP rights can be recorded with the General Administration of Customs (GAC) in Beijing. Although it is not compulsory to record IP rights at the GAC in order to apply to local customs for enforcement proceedings, it is beneficial for a company moving goods in and out of China, because if IP rights are registered with Customs, then Customs has the power to detain at will any suspected infringing consignment of goods. In addition, local customs offices are more proactive when IP rights are recorded with GAC mainly because the recordal provides Customs officials with easy access to internal IP databases and makes it easier for them to determine whether goods passing through Customs are genuine or counterfeit. Recordal of IP rights also facilitates the process of commencing Customs enforcement proceedings.

Given that the recordal of IP rights with GAC is free and straightforward, recording with GAC is recommended by the China IPR SME Helpdesk experts.
Continue reading “The Last (or First) Line of Defense: Using Customs to Protect your IPR in China” »

South-East Asia IPR Basics Series: Using Thai Customs to Protect IPRs

creative picture3Customs agencies can be an IP rights holder’s best friend when it comes to detecting and preventing the movement of infringing goods from one jurisdiction to another.

This article looks into the organisations and systems in place in Thailand which IP rights holders can exploit to better protect their products from infringement. This is an area which is often overlooked but can provide a powerful weapon against piracy and counterfeit product exports.

As always, more help is just a click away: Get in touch with a Helpdesk expert for free, tailored advice for your business.

Continue reading “South-East Asia IPR Basics Series: Using Thai Customs to Protect IPRs” »