Brazil intensifies its efforts against counterfeiting


Following the efforts of private companies and organizations, the State of Rio de Janeiro has created a special police taskforce dedicated to the fight against intellectual property (IP) crime. This and two federal legislative initiatives seem to indicate that the Brazilian authorities are intensifying their efforts to combat counterfeiting and copyright piracy, which cost the government around $3.5 billion a year in lost taxes alone.

Pursuant to Decree 33.535, the special police unit will investigate the following crimes:

  • trademark counterfeiting;

  • copyright piracy;

  • software violations as defined by Software Law 9609/98; and

  • other IP-related crimes as defined by Industrial Property Law 9279/96, which encompasses patent infringement and unfair competition.

The special unit's declared aim is to fight the producers and wholesalers rather than the street vendors of counterfeit and pirated goods.

While other states are considering creating similar specialized IP police units, two initiatives aimed at curbing counterfeiting and piracy have also been launched at federal level. First, the House of Representatives has created a Legislative Commission for the Investigation of Piracy to (i) investigate, with the help of the federal police and a public prosecutor, existing counterfeiting and piracy operations, and (ii) collect information to help draft laws that will provide deterrents against counterfeiters and pirates. Public hearings, which started last month, have already helped to establish that the main wholesalers of counterfeit goods are members of criminal organizations with operations in the states of Pernambuco, Amazonas, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Paraná. The hearings will continue until September 27.

Second, the Senate is examining Bill 00011/2001 that will (i) increase the penalties for trademark violation, and (ii) allow the seizure of related materials and equipment. The bill mirrors Law 10.695/03 on copyright violation that was enacted on July 1.

Rodrigo Borges Carneiro, Dannemann Siemsen Bigler & Ipanema Moreira, Rio de Janeiro

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