Protecting your intellectual property abroad

Customs actions on IPR infringement

Guide

When the UK Border Agency - acting on behalf of HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) - intercepts goods covered by your application that customs officers believe infringe your intellectual property rights (IPR), they will take the following action.

The goods will be detained and you will be contacted to examine a sample and give your opinion on whether and how they infringe your IPR. The time limit for this is usually ten working days, although this can be extended. For perishable goods the detention period is only three working days with no facility to extend this period.

You will then be allowed to refer the suspected infringements to a UK court. You must keep HMRC informed about the referral and the outcome of the court proceedings, so the goods can be dealt with in accordance with any court order. If the goods have not been referred to the appropriate court within ten working days the goods must be released to the owner.

Before you refer the matter to the court you may wish to seek agreement from the declarant, the holder or the owner of the goods to abandon them for destruction. If you reach an agreement the case officer will treat the goods as abandoned and arrange for their destruction. If any of the interested parties object, or if they fail to give permission the right-holder must initiate proceedings within the prescribed period of ten working days (or 20 if an extension has been granted) or the goods may be released.

Abandoned goods are usually destroyed. However, you can talk to HMRC about other options, such as charitable donation or using the goods as training or educational aids. You might be liable for the cost of destroying them, but you can make your own arrangements for destruction.

In addition to HMRC's action, you may be able to get extra help from authorities overseas.

Find out what happens to seized IPR goods in customs seizures and penalties.

HMRC will not accept liability for any infringing goods that it doesn't detect that are covered by applications or notices under either European Union or UK legislation.