Sale of counterfeit goods online
Sale of counterfeit goods online

The following IP guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Sale of counterfeit goods online
  • What are counterfeit goods?
  • Sale of counterfeit goods online
  • Risks
  • Where do online sales of counterfeits take place?
  • eBay and other monitored market places
  • Independent websites
  • Promotional activities
  • Criminal offences

As of exit day (31 January 2020) the UK is no longer an EU Member State. However, in accordance with the Withdrawal Agreement, the UK has entered an implementation period, during which it continues to be subject to EU law. This has an impact on this Practice Note. For further guidance, see Practice Note: Brexit—IP rights.

Online shopping offers unprecedented choice for consumers and easy access to a global market place. However, while the majority of e-commerce sales are legitimate, the internet offers an attractive distribution channel for counterfeiters who find the low-risk environment appealing.

What are counterfeit goods?

Counterfeiters make replicas of branded products (complete with trade marks) in order to mislead consumers into thinking that the products originate from the legitimate brand owner. The production and sale of counterfeit goods therefore constitute an act of trade mark infringement under section 10 of the Trade Marks Act 1994 (TMA 1994).

Counterfeit goods cover the entire spectrum of goods, from watches and handbags to car parts, wine and medicines. They are either marketed as the genuine article or sold openly as fakes. At best, counterfeits are poor quality imitations of the original; at worst, they endanger the health and safety of the purchaser.

Organisations such as the Anti-Counterfeiting Group and the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) can provide useful information on current counterfeiting