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Amendment targets counterfeit and pirated goods

16 November 2007 Media Statement

Amendment targets counterfeit and pirated goods

The growing trade in illegal counterfeit goods will be stemmed under Government proposals to increase Customs’ powers at the border.

Amendments to the Trade Marks and Copyright Acts will enable Customs to take discretionary prosecutions against importers of counterfeit and pirated goods. Other amendments would enable Customs to have investigative powers specific to counterfeit and pirated goods under Customs control.

“We’ve witnessed a significant increase in the international trade of counterfeit and pirated goods over the recent years, and New Zealand’s not alone. The World Trade Organization estimates such goods accounts for 5-7 per cent of all world trade,” says Customs Minister Nanaia Mahuta.

“New Zealand Customs Service officers do a great job in identifying and detaining these goods at the border, but the additional power to take prosecutions will provide an effective tool for helping to reduce and deter offenders.

“This deterrence is particularly important not just for protecting legitimate economic activity but also where counterfeit goods, such as imitation electronic equipment, medicines or food, pose a risk to public safety,” says Nanaia Mahuta.

"Better protection of better intellectual property rights is a win-win solution for both businesses and consumers. Businesses benefit from getting the return on the research and design investments they have made and consumers will have greater confidence that the products they buy are the real deal," Associate Commerce Minister Judith Tizard said.

Since 2001, NZ Customs' annual number of interceptions at the border of counterfeit or pirated goods has increased by more than 300 per cent. Border interceptions of counterfeit and pirated goods by NZ Customs contribute to a global partnership aimed at reducing this trade.

In New Zealand, import offence penalties under the Trade Marks and Copyright Acts carry a maximum fine of $150,000 or five year’s prison.

The recent amendments will be included in the Trade Marks (International Treaties and Enforcement) Amendment Bill, expected to be introduced early next year.

ends

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