What role do the customs play in the fight against counterfeiting and piracy?
Customs authorities, located along the borders, are one of the key players in the fight against piracy and counterfeiting. A majority of infringing goods flooding the markets today are not manufactured in the country where the products are sold, and therefore must at some point make their way across borders. For instance, in 2003, the US Customs Services seized counterfeit and pirated products valued at more than $94 million.
National provisions in line with international treaties, notably the TRIPS Agreement, provide the basic requirements for border measures, and equip customs authorities with the power to suspend release of infringing goods into the stream of commerce. Right holders who have valid grounds for suspecting that they are faced with immediate or future importation of counterfeit or pirated goods are entitled to lodge an application for action with the competent customs authority. Legal provisions, which may be included in the national customs legislation concern details about transparency and due process with which such border measures must conform.
Establishing international standards for customs control is not an easy task. Ongoing training of customs officials to enhance their understanding to the challenges of today's international piracy and counterfeit trafficking certainly is essential for effective action. In addition, cooperation at the international level has become vital in this respect. Countries have started to cooperate in various ways, on regional levels or through bilateral agreements. In addition, cooperation with industry, business associations and the private sector in general, has been identified as being tremendously important for further improving the efficiency of the customs authorities.
Finally, in carrying out their tasks in examining and identifying infringing goods, and monitoring respective results, customs authorities also contribute to a better understanding and analysis of the constantly changing nature of pirated and counterfeit goods.