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Swedish authorities are coming together to tackle the problem of pirated goods, as Maria Zamkova of Fenix Legal reports.
Pirate copying is a well-known risk for any manufacturing company. The more successful you are as a business, the risk increases that someone will copy your products and thereby not only infringe your IP rights, but also create a risk for consumers who think they have bought the real and safe product with your guaranteed quality.
According to statistics from the Swedish customs authority, 41 million fake goods, worth more than Ä605 million ($694.2 million), were seized by customs around Europe in 2016; more than 200,000 of those were seized by the Swedish customs. The fake items included everything from cigarettes, pharmaceuticals and food, to bags, watches, toys, and eyelashes.
In order to stop piracy, the Swedish Patent and Registration Office (PRV), the Swedish Companies Registration Office (Bolagsverket), the Consumer Agency/Consumer Europe (Konsument Europa), the Swedish Medicines Agency, the police, customs and the public prosecutor have agreed to work together to raise the issues of piracy, disseminate information, help entrepreneurs, and protect customers.
Each agency in this Authorities Network Against Piracy (Myndighetsnätverket mot piratkopiering) has special information on its home page, depending on its role in the anti-counterfeiting arena.
PRV (www.prv.se/en/prv-for-entrepreneurs/pirate-copying/) of course focuses on the importance of IP protection, recommending that companies start by registering patents, trademarks and designs in Sweden, and then adding the countries and regions related to export or manufacturing abroad.
Swedish customs (www.tullverket.se/en) points out the importance of active engagement of the right owners themselves, and that cooperation is necessary to stop pirated goods. There are guidelines at its website on how to ask customs to detain goods found to be suspected of infringing IP rights.
There are three forms to use, all of equal importance, in order to get a good result:
Application for action: the initial basic form, with all details about the protected IP, value of the goods, place of production, etc. The application can be a national or an EU application depending on the basis of the IP rights.
Red alert: to notify customs about urgent, specific information. Do not forget to fill in as many details as possible, such as packaging size, estimated arrival time, name of airport or harbour, etc.
New trends: to notify customs about new trends, such as routing information, new transit ways, change of packaging details and markings.
Consumer Europe (www.konsumenteuropa.se) focuses on what to think about as a consumer, and on its website presents ten tips on how to avoid buying pirate copies when shopping online, such as: Check out the seller’s identity; Read other customers’ reviews; Examine the image and price of the product; Check for authorised dealers on the official website, and Pay with secure payment methods.
Another way to identify fake products is to see them in reality. Therefore, the Swedish Authorities Network Against Piracy arranged for a special exhibition at Arlanda Airport during the summer of 2018. The exhibition, En dålig affär (meaning both “a bad deal” and “a bad shop”), was in the form of a shop with confiscated pirate copies, all of which had a background story and arguments for why it is a bad deal to buy pirated goods.
“The purpose is to raise public awareness of the backdrop of piracy and reduce demand for pirated products,” said Peter Strömbäck, director general, PRV, to the media when the shop opened on June 8, 2018.
If this is not convincing enough, on its website Consumer Europe has some further notes for customers to think about: Do your fake sunglasses really protect your eyes? Is the fake toy of your child free of toxic substances? What additives can be found in your fake perfume? Are you sure that the pirated battery will not explode when you use it? What happens if your counterfeit product is defective? Can you complain and how is the warranty? What happens if you get a letter from the customs authorities or a law firm where the rights owner says you have to pay
the cost of destroying the fake mobile you just bought?
In other words: pirate copying is a bad deal from a bad shop.
Maria Zamkova is CEO of Fenix Legal. She can be contacted at: email@example.com
Sweden, Fenix Legal, pirated goods, IP rights, PRV, Consumer Europe, Authorities Network Against Piracy, anti-counterfeiting, IP protection