Government increases powers to crack down on counterfeit goods

Friday 7 October 2011, 1:41PM
By Simon Power

Commerce Minister Simon Power and Customs Minister Maurice Williamson today welcomed new powers to help crack down on people who import and sell counterfeit goods.

The Trade Marks Amendment Act and the Copyright Amendment Act, which come into force today, gives new powers to the Ministry of Economic Development and the Customs Service to investigate and prosecute people involved in the manufacture, importation, and sale of illegal goods.

These investigative powers allow the two agencies to work in conjunction with Police and rights holders to enforce criminal offences for importing and selling counterfeit goods and pirated works.

“The illicit trade of counterfeit goods undermines the productivity of innovative New Zealand businesses and threatens the profitability of honest traders,” Mr Power said.

However, he reminded rights holders that enforcement of these criminal offences is not a substitute for civil action.

“Responsibility for protecting and enforcing copyright and registered trade marks still lies with the rights holders.”

Customs Minister Maurice Williamson welcomed the new power for Customs to investigate and prosecute importers of counterfeit and pirated goods at the border.

He said Customs will be focusing on importers of commercial quantities of counterfeit goods, recidivist offenders, and cases where there is a serious question of community health and safety.

“Illicit traders are moving beyond luxury items and into common everyday household products such as medicines, car parts, electrical goods, electronic equipment, and food products.”

“These people have no regard for health and safety standards, and these increased powers will help us crack down on the amount of counterfeit goods entering the country.”

The Trade Marks Amendment Act 2011 also allows the Ministry of Economic Development’s National Enforcement Unit to scrutinise goods being offered for sale in public places such as markets, fairs, and retail outlets, and seize counterfeit or pirated goods.

More information on the National Enforcement Unit is available here.

More information on the New Zealand Customs Service is available here.