Those who deal in counterfeit goods could now face longer in jail and/or larger fines following the publication of updated guidelines. Individuals who sell, or possess with the intention to sell, counterfeit goods can now face up to seven years in custody while organisations can face fines of up to £450,000. The new guidelines replace old advice which applied only to individuals.
Section 92 of the Trade Marks Act 1994 prohibits the use of a trade marks without the owner's consent and creates a criminal offence for those breaching it. In 2019, 370 individuals and 40 organisations were sentenced for trade mark offences according to government data. Whilst these new guidelines are unlikely to see a vast increase in the number of individuals or organisations prosecuted, those which are may well face more severe sanctions.
"A Sentencing Council member, District Judge Mike Fanning, said: ‘Selling counterfeit goods may appear to be a victimless crime, but it harms not only the owner of the trade mark but also legitimate traders and - in some cases - can put the people who buy them at risk of serious harm.' "
Under guidelines published today, individuals who sell or possess counterfeit goods intended for sale could face a custodial sentence of up to seven years, while organisations could face fines of up to £450,000.