Smartphone counterfeiter arrested in western Germany
In October, police in Hamm, in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, seized more than 20 counterfeit smartphones. Prior to that, an 18-year-old had offered a fake Apple iPhone to a potential buyer and fled when the latter noticed the scam. However, the potential buyer was able to take down the license plate number of the vehicle and informed the police. A police patrol eventually noticed the getaway car in the city center, and officers stopped the car and inspected the 18-year-old driver and his 30-year-old passenger. In the process, the 18-year-old suspect handed over a fake iPhone Pro Max to the officers; during a subsequent search of the car, the officers found a total of 22 suspected counterfeit iPhone cell phones and one fake Samsung smartphone. The two passengers of the vehicle were arrested; the car, the counterfeits, and some cash were seized, and an investigation was opened for fraud and violation of trademark law.
Hundreds of tons of wood pellets seized
With several actions in recent months, Italian authorities cracked down on counterfeit and falsely declared wood pellets that illegally carried the protected ENplus® quality seal. A total of about 700 tons of pellet fuels were seized, authorities said. During initial investigations in Venice, authorities had identified several traders selling illegal goods; investigators seized more than 350 tons of illegal pellet fuels as well as two trucks. Following further investigations, the authorities targeted the producers of the goods: With additional raids in September targeting companies in the Rieti, Terni, and the Ancona area, as well as at a company based in Slovakia, they identified further illegal products and again seized around 60 tons. This was followed by investigations at two traders in Treviso and a storage facility in Vicenza, where 85 tons and 197 tons were seized, respectively.
Officers of the Dutch police seized more than 1,600 counterfeit brand-name rims in Heesbeen, in the south of the Netherlands; the value of the seized products is estimated at around 300,000 euros. The counterfeits illicitly carried well-known automotive brands, such as Seat, Volkswagen, and Audi, and looked very similar to genuine car parts, media report. The seller of the counterfeits had falsely claimed to be an authorized dealer for the products. The seizure is the result of an investigation by the police in cooperation with the municipality of Heusden and the brand protection organization REACT.
A 56-year-old karate instructor in the United Kingdom has been sentenced to four years in prison for trading in counterfeits worth more than 500,000 pounds (around 592,800 euros). Authorities had seized from him more than 2,800 counterfeit DVDs and around 630 counterfeit Scholl brand foot care products. Running his illegal business over more than five years, the accused had used 22 eBay accounts, 28 PayPal accounts, and 31 bank accounts, which he had set up under 30 different names, media reports say. In addition, he had used a self-storage unit in south London and three nearby residential addresses. Authorities zeroed in on the fraudster after Southwark Council Trading Standards flagged one of his eBay accounts; follow-up test purchases by investigators from the Film Content Protection Agency confirmed the counterfeiting suspicion. “This sentence should serve as a grave warning that the courts see DVD piracy and counterfeiting for what it is – fraud”, says Darren Merrill, Southwark Council.
Germany paves the way for the European unitary patent: In September, the German government filed the ratification certificate for the protocol on provisional application to the agreement on a Unified Patent Court (UPC). So far, 15 EU member states1 have already ratified the UPC – this means that the agreement can come into effect as soon as Germany has also officially ratified it. First, however, the patent court has to be made operational; this includes electing judges and passing the rules of procedure. The German government expects the agreement to come into effect in mid-2022 at the earliest. The European reform, with the patent court as an international organization based in Luxembourg, aims at making Europe-wide IP protection simpler and more effective. Germans Federal Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) welcomes this: “For the German industry, which holds around 40 percent of all European patents filed from Europe, better protection of their inventions in the European domestic market is of particular importance”. Critics worry that the system might be more expensive for companies that lose in a legal dispute.
1 Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden