Government enacts new decree on customs enforcement of IP rights

Serbia

At a session held on March 5 2015, the Serbian government enacted a decree on the conditions and procedures for the application of measures for customs enforcement of IP rights, replacing the 2010 decree. The new decree was published in the Official Gazette No 25 of March 13 2015; it came into force on March 21 2015 and will be applicable from September 1 2015. The decree is modelled after EU Regulation 608/2013 concerning customs enforcement of IP rights and reflects Serbia’s efforts to keep its customs legislation harmonised with the EU legislation.

It is important that IP rights holders take the time to establish a customs watch in Serbia without waiting for goods to be seized ex officio, because the deadline for establishing a customs watch in ex officio cases is only four working days. A liability declaration is no longer required as a separate document, as it is now integrated in the application for customs watch. On the other hand, the new decree requires IP rights holders to provide more information and materials about genuine goods in order to enable customs officials to detect counterfeits. This includes technical information about genuine goods and distribution channels. It remains to be seen how much details Customs will request in practice and whether this will apply to all goods covered by the trademark registration, or only those which are of main interest to the IP rights holder.

Further, the new decree provides for the destruction of goods under a simplified procedure, without a court order, provided that the holder of the goods consents to the destruction (explicitly or tacitly) within a deadline of 10 working days (three working days for perishable goods). The IP rights holder must confirm that the goods are counterfeits and request their destruction within a deadline of 10 working days. This deadline can no longer be extended, except if the IP rights holder decides to file a lawsuit (the old decree allowed for a deadline extension of 10 working days, both for the request for destruction of the goods under the simplified procedure and for the lawsuit).

Finally, the new decree introduces a special procedure for the destruction of small consignments (ie, postal or express courier consignments that contain three units or fewer or weigh less than two kilos). Customs will destroy such consignments without sending a prior notification to the rights holder, at the latter’s expense, provided that the goods are not perishable, that the rights holder has explicitly requested this procedure in its application for customs watch, and that the declarant or the holder of the goods has not explicitly objected to the destruction within 10 working days. If there is an objection, customs will inform the IP rights holder, which will then have 10 working days to institute civil proceedings. Dealing with small consignments requires certain technical adjustments which Serbian customs has yet to implement, so it is expected that it may take some time before this procedure starts to work in practice.

Gordana Pavlovic, Cabinet Pavlovic, Brussels and Belgrade

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