Counterfeit products and ordering online
If Customs suspects that the product you have ordered online is a counterfeit product, the import of your purchase may be stopped. The maximum penalty for an intellectual property offence is two years’ imprisonment.
The importation of counterfeit products for commercial purposes is prohibited. The EU Court of Justice has ruled that online purchases made by private individuals also comprise commercial activity.
A counterfeit product is a product that infringes on the intellectual property rights (IPR) of the original product. Illicit copies of films and music are examples of pirated copies.
Customs controls that the goods entering, exiting and being transited through Finland are not counterfeit goods or other products infringing on the intellectual property rights. The controls aim to protect citizens and society from harmful products as well as to protect the state’s tax revenue and the economic interests of the original right holder.
Points to consider
- Trademark is a sign that distinguishes the goods and services manufactured or produced by a company similar goods and services of other companies.
- Design right protects the appearance of the goods or part thereof. The object of the protection is always a concrete item or part thereof and is always perceived visually.
- Patent is an exclusive right granted to the inventor for using the invention for professional purposes.
- Pirated copy is a product involving an unlicensed copy of someone else’s copyrighted product.
- Counterfeit product is a product involving the unlicensed incorporation of a trademark belonging to another party or a copy of such a trademark, or a product that illicitly simulates the appearance of another product which is protected under design right.
- Infringing product: A product may infringe on intellectual property rights without being a counterfeit product.
Counterfeit products can pose a risk to health or public safety. Counterfeit medicines, foodstuffs, vehicle spare parts and electrical devices involve a particularly significant risk.
There is no reliable research available on the quality of counterfeit products. For example, a clothing item may catch fire or cause an allergic reaction, and children’s toys may contain harmful ingredients and parts that may come loose. Materials used in counterfeit products may even cause cancer. Counterfeit spare parts of vehicles may cause malfunctions and accidents, and counterfeit electronics products may cause short circuits.
There is no guarantee for counterfeit products, and the people responsible cannot be tracked down when the product breaks down or causes damage.
Vast amounts of money are involved in the counterfeiting business, and they are used to fund organised crime.
Counterfeits corrode the market for genuine products. As a result, around 100 000 jobs are lost annually in Europe.
Counterfeit products do not yield any tax revenue. The money must be levied by society from other sources, for example from your salary.
The selling of pirated copies of music, computer software, films and other similar products is depriving their makers of their income.
The maximum penalty for an intellectual property offence is two years’ imprisonment.
Read more: Counterfeit products and ordering online
- IPR pages of the European Commission
- Instructions of the European Commission for identifying counterfeit products
- European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property
- IFPI Finland’s pages on product piracy (in Finnish)
- Finnish Anti-Counterfeiting Group (FACG)
- Finnish Medicines Agency (Fimea): Counterfeit medicines
- Copyright Information and Anti-Piracy Center in Finland