It’s a Genuine Fake!

January 7, 2019

Unauthorised use of a registered trademark is a criminal offence, so selling fake goods at a car boot sale or online can get you into serious trouble.

Few people are aware of the offences that can be committed, and ignorance is usually no defence. This article seeks to explain the background to some offences in respect of trademarks.

What is a trademark?

A trademark is a badge of origin, any sign capable of being represented graphically, which is able to  their distinguish goods from others. Their trademark may consist of words, personal names, designs, letters, numerals or the shape of goods.

What are the offences?

The offences  include applying the mark (that is the copied trademark), selling goods with the copied trademark on, or having goods in your possession in the course of a business.

There are also offences that include the copying of a symbol or sign on labelling, packaging or advertising. The law covers all goods from baseball caps and handbags to wheel trims and counterfeit drugs.

Is there any defence?

It is a defence if you can show that you believed, on reasonable grounds, that the use of the sign was not an infringement of the registered trademark.

If you believed that the goods were genuine, that is also a defence.

For the offence to be committed the trademark has to be one that is registered and also one that has a reputation in the UK.

Even if the fake was of terrible quality it is still not an excuse, as the fact that no one would believe it was genuine does not matter.  It is the use of the trademark that is still an offence.

What can happen to me?

The offences are serious.  While possession of only a few items can lead to a community order, a central role in a large operation can mean a sentence of up to ten years imprisonment.

A conviction for this type of offence can also lead to confiscation proceedings being brought against you. These proceedings involve an assessment of the benefit or profit made from the offence committed, and if there has been a benefit, you can be ordered to pay that back from your assets. And if you did not have any assets the order can be re-visited in the future should you come into any money.

How Tuckers Solicitors can help you…

To discuss anything to do with the illegal use of trademarks please contact us on 020 7388 8333 or email and we will gladly assist.  

Our offices are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, ready to deliver immediate and expert legal advice and representation.