Just out this morning and freshly available on BAILII is Mr Justice Kitchin's judgment n Nokia Corporation v Her Majesty's Commissioners of Revenue & Customs  EWHC 1903 (Ch), in which he dismissed Nokia's application for judicial review of HMRC's refusal to detain a consignment of counterfeit 400 Nokia phones and accessories under the Counterfeit Goods Regulation (Regulation 1383/2003), which has been incorporated into UK law by The Goods Infringing Intellectual Property Rights (Customs) Regulations 2004 (SI 2004/1473).
After an extensive recitation and review of the law, Kitchin J got straight to the heart of the issue:
"Clearly any power of arrest or detention of goods by HMRC must be exercised in accordance with law. It must have a clear basis for interfering with the property of a third party".The judge then reviewed the not insubstantial ECJ case law and summarised it as follows:
"49. ... First, infringement of registered trade mark requires goods to be placed on the market and that goods in transit and subject to suspensive customs procedures do not, without more, satisfy this requirement. ...
50. Second, the position is different if the goods in the transit procedure are subject to the act of a third party which necessarily entails their being put on the market (“the Montex exception”). But the burden of establishing this rests on the trade mark proprietor.
51. Third, a mere risk that the goods may be diverted is not sufficient to justify a conclusion that the goods have been or will be put on the market.
52. Fourth, the Counterfeit Goods Regulation has not introduced a new criterion for the purposes of ascertaining the existence of an infringement of a registered trade mark or to determine whether there is a use of the mark which is liable to be prohibited".
"80. ... I recognise that this result is not satisfactory. I can only hope it provokes a review of the adequacy of the measures available to combat the international trade in fake goods by preventing their transhipment through Member States".The IPKat shares the judge's sentiments. Merpel adds, the same ruling presumably applies equally to situations in which the goods in question are fake brake pads, counterfeit medicines or, which is just as serious, tainted cat food. A review of both the policy and the mechanics of implementation of the detention of goods is certainly in order.