We have the expertise to represent our clients before the customs authorities

The objective is to assist you in identifying and preventing infringement by third parties, especially the distribution of counterfeit products in the territory of France or Europe. We intervene to enable Customs officers to identify and intercept allegedly counterfeit products, particularly those of our clients.

By registering our firm with the customs authorities, we can intervene as your representative and intermediary vis-à-vis the different departments present in the territory.

When an Intellectual Property attorney such as our firm is declared to the Customs services as a representative of the right holder, we are then immediately contacted by the Customs inspector and can inform our client as soon as possible about:

  • the nature of the seized goods
  • the seized quantities
  • the place of seizure
  • the origin of the goods.

If necessary, we can visit in person in order to validate the authenticity of the goods, sometimes with an expert appointed by our client, depending on the complexity of the seized products.

Throughout this type of procedure, we act as your relay and your counsel, through constantly keeping in contact with you in order to decide on whether or not to pursue the seizure operations all the way to a possible lawsuit.

What is an infringement as regards customs?

Infringement refers to the violation of an intellectual property right.

For example, it can include the following offences:

  • the reproduction, use, affixing or imitation of a trademark that is identical or similar to the one designated in the registration, without the authorisation of its holder or of the beneficiary of the exclusive right to use;
  • the copying, importing or sale of a new invention without the consent of the patent holder;
  • the total or partial reproduction of an industrial design without the authorisation of the author;
  • the printing of written text, musical compositions, drawings, paintings or any other printed or engraved production in whole or in part, as well as the reproduction, representation or distribution of an intellectual work in violation of copyright.

If no certificate of conformity is produced, the counterfeit goods will be deemed as having been imported in violation of the Customs Code. The customs violation is registered via a report and the goods are seized.

According to the seizure procedure, the following options are then available:

  • return of the goods to circulation
  • referral to the court
  • furtherance via settlement or before the court

The customs sanctions in matters of infringement

The Customs Code lays down a possible set of fiscal and criminal sanctions, namely:

  • the confiscation of the disputed goods, the means of transport and objects used to conceal the fraud, the assets and credit notes resulting from the offence;
  • a fine of one to two times the value of the object of the fraud (or even greater if the acts were committed by an organised gang);
  • imprisonment of up to three years.

How to request for a customs seizure?

To do this, it is necessary to file an intervention request on the basis of the Intellectual Property Code with the General Directorate of Customs and Indirect Rights.

This request can be based on any type of intellectual property rights: patent, trademark, industrial design, copyright or similar right, utility model, supplementary protection certificate, topography of a semiconductor product, geographic indication, plant breeders’ rights.

A certain number of supporting documents must be attached, concerning the applicant, the claimed IP rights, etc.

Don’t hesitate to ask us for more information about this subject.