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Countering the Counterfeiters

By Mike Worsnop - 22 Feb 2012

The importation and sale of counterfeit goods and pirated works has become an increasing problem in New Zealand.  In response to this, we have recently seen changes to our trade mark and copyright legislation.

Under the Trade Marks Act 2002 and the Copyright Act 1994 it is a criminal offence to sell, import or manufacture counterfeit goods or pirated works.   Until recently it has been the sole responsibility of the Police to investigate and prosecute counterfeiters.  Unfortunately, a lack of resources and expertise within the Police has meant that enforcement of these provisions has not been high priority.

Recent legislative changes now provide for the appointment of enforcement officers within Customs to investigate and prosecute counterfeiters.  Enforcement officers have the power to enter any public place (including a shop, stall or vehicle) where goods are being sold and examine the goods without a warrant.  Enforcement officers may:

  • examine any item or document,

  • take photographs or video recordings;

  • take any person with them to assist with their examination (including a member of the Police);

  • seize any item reasonably believed to be evidence of an offence; or

  • require any person to appear and answer questions.

A person convicted for an offence may be imprisoned for up to five years or fined up to $150,000.  

It is important to note that only registered trade marks are protected by the criminal provisions of the Trade Marks Act.  If you would like to speak to us further about protecting your brand please contact Emma Hunter or Mike Worsnop.


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