The role of Customs in the enforcement of Intellectual Property was a subject of much debate and discussion during early nineties. It was a time when infringement of IP was becoming more visible and strategies to counter the same were deliberated at length. Over a period of time, it was realized that ownership of IP plays a crucial role in determining the status of a country as a developed or underdeveloped one. Countries that encouraged innovation and protected Intellectual Property proactively realized spurt in creativity fuelled by increasing investments in Research & Development and positive transfer of technology. It was also a time when greater access to technology made copying easier and counterfeiting widespread, which prompted leading national governments to brain storm into finding a solution. These developments culminated in deliberate assignment of responsibilities of IP enforcement to "gate keepers of the nations", i.e. Customs since they are privy to information and in control of goods which is covertly counterfeit or pirated. Customs are perceived to be a natural and preferred agency for proactive enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights across the globe.
Intellectual Property enforcement is a constant challenge before the enforcement authorities around the globe. The skills to focus on and hit at a constantly moving target are not only acquired by practice but also learnt from the masters of the game. For this reason, sharing intelligence and best practices among world’s leading Customs remains a desirable strategy. Nevertheless, a durable and trust based relationship between Industry and Customs has been found to be equally fruitful in dismantling gangs of IP criminals who have been proved to have links with patterns of serious organized crimes.
During our interactions with Customs officials across the country, a need to come up with a booklet on Intellectual Property Rights laws was realized. Customs officials are entrusted with the responsibility of enforcing a plethora of rules and regulations, with newer responsibilities clamoring for recognition. Intellectual Property Rights being a new field of activity, the awareness of the same has not yet reached the desired levels. It is therefore attempted to bring a basic text on IPR Laws without spelling much of legalese and with very few foot notes. The idea is to present information relevant to a Customs Officer and that too in a nutshell.
We would like to extend our special thanks to Mr. Anubhav Jain, Chairman Taskforce on Counterfeiting & Piracy, CII & Brand Protection, South Asia Mercedes-Benz India Private Limited for his contribution in bringing out this booklet.