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Zero tolerance

Do you want to drive home a ‘zero tolerance’ message to counterfeiters in order to maintain the prestige of your brand? If so, you need to consider the changes to HMRC’s process for dealing with counterfeit seizures:

  • the burden of proof now rests with the rights holder to prove that particular goods are counterfeit by taking legal proceedings, which must be initiated within 10 working days (or, with leave of HMRC, within 20 working days) of being notified of the goods' detention. This compares to the previous process of simply providing a witness statement
  • to ease this burden, HMRC has also introduced a ‘simplified procedure’ so that if the consignor does not oppose destruction of the detained goods within the time limit, HMRC may treat the detained goods as abandoned for destruction. 

Recognising that this shift in policy places a significant burden on rights holders, we have introduced a fixed price product to assist you in policing and removing counterfeit goods from the market. 

Our product

We will take you through the following steps:

  • step 1 - you will be notified by HMRC that suspect goods have been detained (notification date). You will be provided with information about the consignor/consignee and details of the suspected counterfeit goods. We will work with you to assess whether the goods are, indeed, counterfeit - £150
  • step 2 - within 2 working days of receiving the notification, we will send a letter to the consignee asserting your intellectual property rights, notifying it of the infringement and inviting it to confirm, within 10 working days of the notification date, that HMRC may dispose of the goods. At the same time, we will request an additional 10 working days by which to notify HMRC of initiated proceedings - £350
  • step 3 - if the consignee fails to object to destruction of the goods within this period, we will confirm this to HMRC. Typically, HMRC will then treat the goods as abandoned under the simplified procedure and they will be destroyed (at your cost) - £150
  • step 4 - if the consignee claims that the goods are authentic, we will issue proceedings in the Patents County Court for trade mark infringement seeking, amongst other things, a declaration that the items are counterfeit and that HMRC be directed to destroy the goods detained. We will then send a witness statement to HMRC confirming that proceedings have been issued and, once processed, serve a copy of the sealed claim form on the defendant - £550 + £180 court fee anti-counterfeiting product sheet
  • step 5 - once served with formal proceedings, the defendant will have 14 days to acknowledge service and then a further 14 days to file a defence. We anticipate that, in the majority of cases, no acknowledgement will be filed and it will be possible for us to apply to court for Judgment to be entered in default. If a defence is filed, we will advise as to how proceedings may be best (and most economically) resolved - £200 + £40 court fee. 

Terms and conditions

  • you must have a watch service set up with HMRC before you may utilise this fixed price product
  • if an acknowledgement or defence is filed, any advice given from this stage onwards will be outside the protocol and will be charged in addition at our standard rates
  • all offer terms are in accordance with our client care correspondence and accompanying terms and conditions. These terms and conditions are in addition to Browne Jacobson terms and conditions (available on request)
  • our prices in this product will be fixed until April 2011, after which they are subject to review. 

Our team 

Our experienced intellectual property lawyers work closely with HMRC to enforce our clients’ IP rights expeditiously and efficiently. The dedicated team has sector specific experience including luxury goods, retail, health and beauty. The team is based across our six offices in Birmingham, Dublin, Exeter, London, Manchester and Nottingham. 

Our clients 

We act for a number of high end and luxury brand retailers advising on their approach to handling counterfeit goods. Please see the anti-counterfeiting case study for a practical example of how this product has assisted one of our clients.

Our people