Italian Customs has recently implemented a number of
improvements that, if properly exploited, may be helpful in
rendering Customs surveillance more effective, particularly in the
enforcement of patent rights.
Statistics show that Customs officers are mainly involved with
border detentions of copies of famous brands (eg, in the fashion
industry), that are easy to recognise, whereas more hardly are put
in the condition to efficiently detect goods infringing patent
rights, whose identification requires adequate preparation and
technical information. Although the application submitted by rights
holders to the Italian Central Customs Agency is accompanied with
all information required to identify relevant goods, in practice
said information may not always be available to local officers at
the Customs peripheral units who are engaged in the daily controls
of imported goods.
The Italian Central Customs Agency has implemented a
state-of-the-art multimedia database called FALSTAFF, which is
integrated with the Italian Customs IT system, AIDA, to store
information on goods suspected of infringing IP rights. This
database is interactive and can be directly updated by rights
holders that have applied for Customs measures (or their local
counsels / representatives). The rights holder generates a form in
the database and inputs all technical information and details to
identify products suspected of infringement. FALSTAFF should also
allow Customs officers real-time screening of all import and export
These improvements are particularly relevant for monitoring
programs primarily focused on patent rights, where infringing goods
cannot immediately be identified visually (unlike most counterfeit
branded goods). In other words, save for cases of blatant
counterfeits, in case of suspect of infringement of patent rights
Customs officers have no choice but to halt batches and request a
representative from the rights holder to confirm whether the goods
are infringing. The new FALSTAFF system should allow officers to
see a clearer history of an item's shipping documentation (eg,
bills of lading and packing list) submitted by importers in order
to pick out the categories of goods that must be systematically
halted and checked by the rights holder.
For monitoring programs focused on patents it is also crucial
that rights holders invest specific resources in order to provide
adequate technical knowledge to Customs officers, at least at
targeted local units like those located at major Italian harbours
or other areas which may be known for being most likely routes of
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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On 8 September 2016 (C-160/15), the CJEU ruled that the posting of a hyperlink to copyright-protected works located on another website does not constitute copyright infringement when the link poster does not seek financial gain.
The chapter on the UK summarises the IP court and litigation system in the UK, recent developments in relation to IP law and practice, the forms and availability of IP protection and trends and outlook in the IP sphere.
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