ENFORCING IP AT THE BORDERS

PNGCS MANDATE

Mandated to facilitate legitimate trade and protect local industries, the Papua New Guinea Customs Services  is also stepping up its efforts in monitoring and enforcing Intellectual Property Rights at the borders pursuant to the Customs Prohibited Imports Regulation 1951.

Once an entity registers its intellectual property over a particular good with the Intellectual Property Office of PNG of the Investment Promotion it becomes the right holder.

In doing so the entity may also seek to enforce its rights at the borders by applying to Customs under the Customs Prohibited Imports Regulation.

What are Intellectual Property Rights?

Refers to any Intellectual Property Rights as defined in the Copyright & Neighboring Rights Acts 2000 and any law on intellectual property such as trademarks, patents and industrial designs.

What are goods infringing intellectual property rights?

Any goods which are made, reproduced, or put into circulation or otherwise used in breach of the intellectual property laws and without the consent of the right holder or a person duly authorized to do so by the right holder.

IPR ENFORCEMENT PROCESS

Legitimate businesses that know of suspected infringers bringing in counterfeit, pirated and suspected goods should immediately contact IPR and Passenger Policy Section under the Compliance & Procedures Division of PNG Customs Services.

The section is responsible for monitoring and enforcement of IPR through the Recordation and Intervention process.

Recordation process

A right holder who has reasonable grounds to believe/suspect his IP rights are violated may seek Recordation valid for two (2) years by registering with Customs.

  • The prescribed application form should be correctly filled with supporting documents including IPOPNG issued certificates/extracts; if right holder is distributor then certified copy of distributor agreement /Power of attorney etc.
  • Recordation when granted allows Customs to check suspicious conveyance/shipment that have been imported, for exportation or are in transit within the 2-year recordation period.
  • It is important at the time of making application for right holder to supply samples of products plus images for Customs purposes.
  • Applications for renewal shall be made two (2) months before date of expiration. The right holder shall inform the Commissioner when the right ceases to be valid.

 Intervention process

The intervention process follows after a detection made by Customs is verified by the right holder.  

  • The prescribed form should be filled and accompanied with a K2, 000 non-refundable processing fee and supporting documents.
  • If all documentation is in order, Customs will grant intervention to right holder with a 10 day working-day suspension period.
  • Customs shall notify importer of same.
  • The right holder may instigate legal proceedings against infringer within 10 day suspension period and further seek an extension by writing to Customs based on reasonable grounds.
  • Failure on Right Holder’s part to inform Customs within 10-day suspension period of any legal proceedings will result in goods been released to importer. This is subject to all other Customs requirements been met.

It is important to note that an applicant at time of been granted intervention shall provide security or prove that is has sufficient assets to compensate the owner of the goods and the Chief Commissioner for any loss or damage that may result from the wrongful suspension of customs clearance.

Ex-officio

PNG Customs can on its own initiative suspend customs clearance and detain goods in respect of which there is prima facie evidence or reasonable cause to believe that an IPR had been infringed or the goods are protection-defeating devices.

 INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ARE PRIVATE RIGHTS;

  • It is therefore imperative that  authorization to use must first be sought
  • It is the responsibility of the right holder of the intellectual property to protect, monitor and enforce..
  • Record your  valid IPR with PNG Customs for monitoring and enforcement at the borders.