Counterfeit products and ordering online
The EU Court of Justice has ruled that online purchases made by private individuals comprise commercial activity. This means that Customs can intercept the entry of a product purchased online and commence a process for finding out whether industrial property rights or copyrights have been violated.
Customs supervises counterfeit products imported to, exported from and transited via Finland, as well as other products that violate intellectual property rights (IPR). Through product supervision, citizens are protected from exposure to products that pose a threat to health and safety. Tax revenue and the financial interests of right holders are also ensured.
The importation of counterfeit products for commercial purposes is prohibited. The Finnish Copyright Act also prohibits the importation of pirated products such as counterfeit music and film recordings. The maximum penalty for an intellectual property offence is two years’ imprisonment.
Points to consider
- Trademark is an identifier, which separates goods or services made or produced by a company from another company’s corresponding goods or services.
- Design rights 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 exploiting the invention professionally.
- Pirate copy is a product where a work protected by someone else’s copyright has been copied unlawfully.
- Counterfeit product is one where a trademark or a copy of the trademark owned by someone else has been added to a product, or a product that unlawfully imitates the appearance of another protected product.
- Infringing product: A product can infringe on intellectual property rights or copyrights, without it being a counterfeit product.
- Counterfeit products can pose a risk to health or public safety. Counterfeit medicines, vehicle spare parts and electrical devices involve a particularly significant risk.
- There is no reliable research available on counterfeit products. For example, a clothing item can catch fire or cause an allergic reaction, and children’s toys may contain harmful ingredients and parts that may come loose. Hazardous materials used in counterfeit products can 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. Do you want to support that?
- Counterfeits corrode the market for genuine products. As a result, around 100 000 jobs are lost annually in Europe. Your job might be at risk too.
- Counterfeit products do not yield any tax revenue. The money must be levied by society from some other source, for example your salary.
- The selling of pirated copies of music, computer software, films and other similar products is depriving their makers of their income.
- 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
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