Private use or commercial use
The rules about what is legal or illegal does not entirely correspond within the different types of intellectual property rights.
In relation to trademarks, designs, patents and utility models, it is illegal to exploit the rights commercially without the consent of the rights holder. Commercial exploitation ia includes production, import, export, storage and marketing.
With regard to works protected by copyright, it is illegal to reproduce the work and it is also illegal to make the work publicly available.
For all rights, the general principle is that private use is not prohibited. Thus, it is not illegal for a private person to buy a counterfeit bag and use it for private purposes. However, within the rules on copyright, legal private use has been limited in relation to digital works. For more information about copyright go to stream & download or visit website of The Danish Ministry of Culture.
Goods detained by the Danish Customs Agency
It is important to be aware that right holders can demand destruction of a counterfeit or pirated product bought for private use and sent from outside the EU, when the release of the good is suspended by the Danish Customs Agency. This also applies in cases where a consumer has legally bought a counterfeit or pirated good for private use. The destruction will in such cases be based on the seller’s illegal actions.
When a right holder has applied for action by the Danish Customs Agency in relation to goods infringing the right holder’s intellectual property rights and according to the EU Customs Regulation 608/2013, the customs shall suspend the release of goods which customs suspects infringe such rights and hand over the case to the right holder without regard to the number of goods.
If the right holder finds the detained goods to be counterfeit or pirated, it will be up to the right holder to pursue the case and - if necessary - through the court system.
If the right holder chooses to pursue the case, it is relevant to determine if the import took place in the course of trade, which is illegal and can be sanctioned with criminal penalties in the form of a fine or a prison sentence, civil claims for damages and compensation for unlawful use as well as destruction of the goods. The rules on such sanctions are described more detailed below.
A possible discussion about whether or not the goods are imported for commercial purposes. must be conducted with the right holder, as there is no legal basis which allows the Danish Customs Agency to determine this question. In the last instance, it will be a task for the courts to determine – based on the specific facts of the case - if an import has taken place for commercial purposes. The number of imported goods can be an element in this assessment, but will not necessarily be decisive.
In the last instance, the competence to determine the further destiny of the goods – e.g. if they should be destroyed - and who will then bear the costs – lies with the courts.
It is important to be aware that also counterfeit or pirated goods, which the buyer has bought legally for private use, can be destroyed upon detention by the Danish Customs Agency. Further information on this topic is available below.
More information on customs’ procedures is available here.
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