EU COUNTERFEIT CONTROVERSY: The European Union’s Court of Justice ruled this week that if goods in transit through the EU are suspected of being imitations or copies of other products, they can be classified as counterfeit only if it’s proven they are destined to be sold in the EU. The judgment was delivered after Philips and Nokia questioned EU customs officials’ handling of suspected counterfeits. In 2008, suspected fake Nokia telephones were intercepted by customs authorities en route from Hong Kong to Colombia. While officials established they were fakes, they refused Nokia’s request to detain the products because they were in transit from one non-EU country to another, under current EU law.

Dafydd Bevan, an intellectual property lawyer and an associate at Marks & Clerk solicitors in London, said the ruling was a “blow” for brand owners. “Customs officials have effectively been given the go-ahead to turn a blind eye to even obviously fake goods passing under their noses if they are destined for non-EU states,” he said.

This story first appeared in the December 2, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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