Time and again the question of when and how Customs can aid in enforcement of IP rights has come before the courts. It was the CJEU’s turn, answering a reference by the Danish court, to interpret Council Regulation (EC) No 1383/2003 of 22 July 2003, on measures to be taken against goods suspected of infringing IPR. The intended recipient of the goods - a Danish national had bought a Rolex watch through a Chinese online retailer. Customs authorities detained the watch which was later proved to be a counterfeit and sought consent of the recipient to destroy the watch.
The recipient pleaded that the watch had been bought legally, from a EU non-member state where IP protection did not apply. Some of other points on which clarity was sought were whether a purchase for personal use without breaking any IP laws in Denmark could be acted upon by the Customs authorities. The CJEU ruled that though there was no offer of sale targeting EU members, where IP rights were affected, the customs regulation would protect the IP holders.
EC 1383/2003 was repealed with effect from 1-1-2014 and stronger regulation (EU) No 608/2013 was adopted extending the regulations to illegal parallel trade and small consignments among others.