How to mitigate undue seizure risk when shipping marked goods to the Balkans

Enforcement and IP protection go hand in hand and having a solid plan for what to do in the event of a seizure is particularly important, especially in the Balkans, where many trade routes intersect. An annual Custom's surveillance (ACS) petition can be a crucial tool for trademark owners shipping goods to the Balkans.­

An ACS petition is a form that is filed with a customs office’s IP department and generally contains:

  • which trademark infringements to look out for;
  • information on routes and border crossings that the owner typically uses; and
  • a list of the owner’s distributors; and
  • information on the original packaging.

The form is filed on a per owner basis, therefore a rights holder can cover multiple registrations with a single petition. An ACS can be filed by either the trademark owner or the licensee (if the licence has been recorded).

More time to respond when goods are seized

Since Customs has an ex officio duty to stop all goods that may be infringing IP rights, a suspicious shipment should be stopped in any case - however, trademark owners with an ACS petition will have longer (usually 10 working days) to decide their next steps. This can be particularly helpful when national holidays, travel and time-zone differences are at play.

Up-to-date information provided to local Customs

The ACS petition asks applicants to provide information about associated traders, where the goods were manufactured, distribution routes and the value of the goods. Additionally, it requests that trademark owners submit photos of the goods, as well as instructions on how to identify original products. This can make all the difference to Customs agents who often have to identify a continuous flow of goods under tight time constraints.

No unnecessary delays

Even when precautions are taken, legitimate goods are still sometimes seized. This can be avoided by supplying local customs agencies with a list of authorised importers and usual points of entry into the country.

Although, the law prescribes short time frames for action against seized shipments, in practice, it can be a long time between seizure and the trademark owner’s local representative being notified. ACS petitions provide information to Customs about the owner’s local attorneys, which is especially important when these concern international registrations. Regularly filing an ACS petition and renewing it every 12 to24 months makes the whole process easier for trademark owners, their supply chains, and local agents and distributors.

This is an insight article whose content has not been commissioned or written by the WTR editorial team, but which has been proofed and edited to run in accordance with the WTR style guide.

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