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Anti-Counterfeiting Forum

Counterfeiting and the law

In the UK, companies supplying counterfeit components to the electronics supply chain are committing offences, which are of interest to Trading Standards and other law enforcement agencies. If such offences are reported to them, they will investigate.

The Intellectual Property Office encourages traders to take the matter up with their local Trading standards office for two reasons:

1. There may be criminal offences committed by the supplier of the components under Section 92 of the Trade Marks Act 1994, for selling goods which bear, or the packaging of which bears a sign identical to or likely to be mistaken for a registered Trade Mark. Law enforcement may wish to launch criminal proceedings against that supplier. Note that, if you identify components as being counterfeit and return them to your supplier, you are also committing an offence under the same Act. You should therefore retain possession of the components, withhold payment and advise your supplier that you are reporting to the matter to Trading Standards;

2. Counterfeit components that do not confirm to the specification of the original part may be inherently dangerous or render the equipment in which they are a component dangerous. In many instances this can be the case, where the definition of 'counterfeit' differs from that relevant to Section 92 of the Trade Marks Act 1994. This may constitute offences under safety legislation such as the General Product Safety Regulations 2005.

The ESCO also asks that you help your fellow electronics supply chain colleagues by uploading the details of the counterfeit parts to our suspected / alleged counterfeit component database, which can be accessed at Suspect Database. You will need to log on to access this page. If you do not have a password, you can register free of charge at Register. We have imposed this condition so that we can moderate the database to prevent any potentially inaccurate or malicious entries. However, your identity on the database is limited to your user name, which you can modify if you wish to retain a degree of anonymity.

The Intellectual Property Office suggests that you may want to consider maintaining a business relationship with your local Trading Standards office so that you have a single point of contact to take your queries to. To find information on your local Trading Standards office, visit Weblink

EC Regulation No 1383/2003 concerning customs action against IPR infringement
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EU Information for IP rights holders on applying for action to be taken by customs
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Information from the UK Intellectual Property Office on enforcing your IP
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Proposed U.S Secure E-Waste Export and Recycling Act
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The UK IP Crime Strategy 2011
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UK Consumer Rights Bill: Statement on Policy Reform and Responses to Pre-Legislative Scrutiny
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UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988
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UK Government response: Consultation on proposed amendments to the Patents Rules 2007
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UK Intellectual Property Act 2014 Section 13
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UK Patents Act 1977
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UK Registered Designs Rules 2006
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UK Sale of Goods Act Fact Sheet
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UK Trade Marks Act 1994, as amended
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US National Defense Authorisation Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (see section 818)
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US Responsible Electronics Recycling Act
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