Produced in partnership with Taylor Wessing LLP

The following IP guidance note Produced in partnership with Taylor Wessing LLP provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Anti-counterfeiting
  • Customs
  • Tips—customs
  • Trading Standards and the police
  • Tips—Trading Standards and police
  • Civil litigation
  • Tips—civil litigation
  • Private criminal prosecutions
  • General tips

This Practice Note summarises the main types of legal action that can be taken against the UK trade in counterfeit goods, the pros and cons of each and includes some practical tips for brand owners. It covers actions by the authorities, including customs, Trading Standards (TS) and the police, as well as civil actions and private criminal prosecutions by right holders. In some countries, it is also possible to bring administrative actions against infringers, but these are not dealt with here.

This Practice Note focuses on counterfeiting (meaning trade mark-related offences), but also touches on piracy (copyright-related offences). For more information about piracy and customs, please see Practice Note: Anti-counterfeiting and anti-piracy. For information about counterfeit goods and the internet, see Practice Note: Sale of counterfeit goods online.


HMRC enforces intellectual property (IP) rights in the UK, with responsibility for the borders (through the UK Border Agency) and for postal consignments (through the postal hub in Coventry). HMRC has authority to inspect and detain goods imported into the UK for a wide range of IP infringements.

The key legislation is Regulation (EU) 608/2013 (the EU Customs Regulation). The EU Customs Regulation relates to counterfeit and pirated goods and goods infringing various other IP rights. However, it does not cover:

  1. parallel imports (goods manufactured with the consent of the right holder but