Being an important port in the middle of the Mediterranean, Malta’s efforts are key to the battle against counterfeit goods.
Through the hard work of the customs authorities that continuously detect the presence of counterfeit goods, coupled with an effective and efficient legal framework and court system, the island has proven to be an ally to genuine trade mark owners whose intention is that of protecting the hard earned reputation of their brands against the malicious and deceitful actions of counterfeiters that seek to make their profit at the expense of the rightful brand owners and the consumers.
30 May 2019 saw the destruction of the last two containers in a record haul of 37 million counterfeit cigarettes, split into 4 containers, made by the Maltese customs authorities. The seizure was reported widely in the Maltese media (see the Times of Malta and TVM reports on the seizure). The goods were not destined for the Maltese market, but traversed Malta on their way from Cambodia to Northern Africa. Upon the entry into the Maltese freeport, the area designated for goods passing through Malta, the customs authorities informed the representatives of the rightful trade mark owners about the entry into the freeport of goods bearing their trade marks. This prompted the immediate reaction of the trade mark owners and a request was made to the customs authorities to seize the goods.
The seizure was promptly followed up by a request by the trade mark owners to the Maltese Courts to order the destruction of the goods in accordance with EC Regulation 207/2009 and the Maltese Intellectual Property Rights (Cross-Border Measures) Act (Chapter 414 of the Laws of Malta).
Despite an attempt by the producers of the seized goods to contest the request made by the trade mark owners, the Maltese Court held that there were no valid reasons at law to oppose the actions of the registered trade mark owners and ordered the destruction of the said goods, which destruction was carried out through the customs authorities.
Registered trade mark owners have the possibility of filing an application with the Maltese customs authorities for the latter to detain every consignment of goods bearing the marks of the registered owners that enters the Maltese ports, and release such goods only upon clearance being given by the registered trade mark owners. Where trade mark owners identify a counterfeit consignment, they may then proceed to obtain the Court’s authorisation for the destruction of the counterfeit goods.