First joint IP training programme for Customs and MDTCA
The border control provisions under the Trademarks Act, which were intended to facilitate the seizure of counterfeit goods bearing registered trademarks, have rarely been used - if at all. The requirements under the provisions (ie, compulsory payment of a bond, obligation to initiate civil proceedings for trademark infringement and necessity to provide detailed information on the shipment of counterfeit goods) make their use almost prohibitive in practical terms. However, the customs authorities have been receptive to the idea of taking a more pro-active approach and seemed willing to receive input directly from brand and trademark owners.
The first joint IP training programme for Customs and MDTCA officials, which was held on February 14 2008, gathered participants from all over the country. The training programme was conducted by a leading brand owner in the luxury goods industry. It aimed to provide Customs with an overview of:
- the laws protecting IP rights in Malaysia; and
- how Customs can assist brand owners in enforcing their rights against counterfeiters.
Although Customs officers have the authority to detain or suspend the release of goods which appear to be counterfeit based on prima facie evidence, they are not vested with any power to investigate and prosecute (unlike the enforcement officers of the MDTCA). During the training programme, the customs authorities were thus given the opportunity to share the MDTCA's extensive enforcement experience. The aim was to educate and encourage the customs authorities to work in partnership with MDTCA to fight counterfeiting activities at the borders.
Due to the success of the IP training programme, it has been suggested that similar programmes be organized for customs authorities on a regional basis.
Karen Abraham, Shearn Delamore & Co, Kuala Lumpur
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