Dominican Customs destroys almost 50,000 counterfeit articles

Dominican Republic

The customs authorities of the Dominican Republic have recently destroyed 45,986 counterfeit articles.

The counterfeit articles bore the famous trademarks LOUIS VUITTON, CHANEL and LACOSTE. All articles were seized over a period of three years through customs surveillance of the traffic of articles for import and export to and from the Dominican Republic. All the destroyed articles were intended to enter the Dominican market.

Border measures in the Dominican Republic formally started with the implementation of the DR-CAFTA (Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement). Previously, the Dominican authorities did not enforce obligations under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights or the local Industrial Property Law.

In 2006 an Intellectual Property Department, which handles all trademark and copyright surveillance cases at the Dominican borders, was established. The department also handles the formal recordal of trademarks with Customs. To obtain such recordal, trademark owners must provide instructions and the characteristics of the goods to help the department identify fakes. This is very important because, even though the Dominican Customs are entitled to take actions against all counterfeit products, trademarks that are registered and identified will receive more attention from the authorities.

During the surveillance process, customs inspectors, principally in the main ports and airports (Multimodal Caucedo Port, Las Americas International Airport and International Cibao Airport), alert the Intellectual Property Department when merchandise is suspected of being counterfeit. The legal representatives of the titles holders are then notified so the latter can indicate whether the seized products are fake or not. A complaint must be filed with the courts or the District Attorney in order to ensure that Customs does not continue the importation process. 

Dedicated customs personnel receive training from trademark owners and the World Customs Organisation from time to time. The authorities have been always opened to receiving this kind of training.

The destruction of almost 50,000 counterfeit articles by Customs shows that counterfeiters and their distributors do not always achieve their objectives. Such activity is aimed at intensifying the fight against IP rigths violations and serves as public information on the adverse consequences of counterfeiting.

Jaime R Angeles, Angeles & Lugo Lovatón, Santo Domingo

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