No Criminal Conviction Required For Forfeiture Of Counterfeit Goods

Brands that have been developed and produced and are trademarked have to be protected, and the High Court reinforced this in the following case by highlighting the fact that despite not having a criminal prosecution in place, it does not mean that goods cannot be seized and forfeited.

A businessman possessed a significant number of signs which showed a variety of cars and motorbikes with their makers trademarks on them. These were obtained from an unauthorised supplier without the motor company’s permission. and the businessman was charged under Section 10 (5) of the Trade Marks Act 1994.

The prosecution failed because the jury could not come to a verdict, the prosecution could add no additional evidence so the businessman was cleared. The judge took the decision to order the forfeiture of the products using section 97 of the Act, as he believed that a breach in the unauthorised use of Trade Marks had more likely than not to have occurred.

The businessman challenged the forfeiture order on the basis that the human right convention allowed him the peaceful enjoyment of the things he owned. The Court dismissed his case reinforcing the original decision that there was no need for the businessman to have been convicted of any breach as the order was about the products and not the person. The law was clear on this matter. The Court further dismissed the assertion that the forfeiture was too harsh. The Court added that Parliament’s intention was to protect trademarks and to remove counterfeit products away from the marketplace.