United Kingdom: Border Force Has Bumper Haul of Seized Christmas Counterfeit Goods

(Jan. 5, 2017) Border Force, a law enforcement agency within the Home Office that is responsible for securing the borders of the United Kingdom through enforcing immigration and customs controls, seized more than 83,000 counterfeit items, with an estimated value of £3.5 million (about US$4.3 million) at airports during just six days in December 2016.  Counterfeit perfume, stuffed toys, Nike Air Max Sneakers, Harry Potter Wands, and Beats headphones were among the intercepted items.  Items seized at additional ports were valued at more than £1 million (about US$1.2 million).  (Counterfeit Christmas Gifts Seized by Border Force, GOV.UK (Dec. 23, 2016).)

Once goods are seized, the Border Force, as part of specialized international trade teams, works with the owners of major brands to determine if the items are genuine or fake.  If the goods are determined to be fake, they are destroyed, and the holder of the intellectual property rights may determine whether or not to privately prosecute the people caught importing the goods.  (Id.; Trade Marks Act 1994, c. 26, LEGISLATION.GOV.UK.)  In addition to trademark owners carrying out  private prosecutions, Trading Standards Departments in local governments across the country frequently prosecute offenders dealing in counterfeit goods under the Trade Marks Act 1994, which provides for the offense of using a registered trademark for profit without the consent of the owner.   (Trade Marks Act, § 92; see for example, Trading Standards Enforcement Policy and Civil Law Advice Policy, Warwickshire County Council (last visited Jan. 3, 2017).)

While many argue that the trade in counterfeit products should not be a matter for police investigation, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, affiliated with the City of London Police, has noted that the proceeds from the sale of counterfeit products are frequently used to fund drug dealing and other types of organized crime, that counterfeit products can lead to job losses because the original manufacturer cannot beat the price charged for counterfeit goods, and that sellers of these products rarely pay taxes on the money made.  (Bethan Bell, What’s Wrong with Buying Fake Luxury Goods?, BBC NEWS (July 15, 2016); Counterfeit Goods Fraud, ACTION FRAUD (last visited December 27, 2016).)

Join Our Team

Subscribe Now

Get updates by subscribing to our newsletter