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Practical aspects of combating counterfeit goods in Poland

Trade in counterfeit goods is a major global issue. It is important to increase public awareness that combating counterfeiting not only demonstrates protection of intellectual property rights; it is often a fight against organized criminal groups.

When protection against counterfeit goods can be obtained

According to the definition in Polish law, counterfeit trade marks are identical marks used unlawfully, or marks that are indistinguishable, in normal trading conditions, from marks registered for protected goods. Infringement does not only occur when counterfeit marking is placed on products, but also when counterfeit markings are used on packaging, labels, or display signs placed next to goods.

The principal, but not only instrument for combating counterfeiting is instigating criminal proceedings. In practice, when an operation has been conducted, the police inform the right holder that seized goods may be counterfeit. Especially in the case of a foreign firm, these measures will proceed more efficiently if a representative is appointed in Poland to liaise with law enforcement authorities. It is important to be persistent in the measures taken, and react to seizure of goods regardless of the quantity, as well as work with the competent bodies efficiently.

What is gained by combating counterfeit goods

The most important result of combating counterfeiting effectively is that infringing goods are eliminated from the market, especially as they are permeating legitimate sale outlets with increasing frequency, which we have seen in the cases handled at TKP. Nowadays, therefore, counterfeit goods are not only on the proverbial market stalls, but also in stores, on display stands in shopping centers, etc. In addition to the sanction for an infringer provided for under Polish law, a victim may also seek redress for damage, or, if this cannot be quantified, seek a specific amount of pecuniary damages. We have observed in practice that some victims whom we do not represent do not exercise this right at all, or seek relatively low amounts. Meanwhile, in the cases handled at TKP, it is becoming increasingly common for amounts awarded (following motions we have filed) to be relatively high. These amounts not only partly compensate for damage to image, they also serve as a deterrent.