Three Ways the Australian Border Force Enforce Brand Protection
The Australian Border Force (ABF) is an agency tasked with the enforcement, compliance and investigation of onshore and offshore border control activities in the country. The agency, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Home Affairs, is also responsible for detention operations related to border controls. In an October 2019 interview with New York-based International Trademark Association, Rodney Jeffs, an Assistant Director with ABF’s Environmental Goods and Product Safety Section, outlined how the agency operates to protect brands and their intellectual property (IP) rights.
Enforcement Through Education
ABF encourages brand owners to train and educate its enforcement officers to recognise the differences between counterfeit, pirated and genuine products. The training sessions, which are conducted in workshops organised by ABF, also allow brand and copyright owners to update enforcement officers with the latest trends involving counterfeiters and pirates.
The passing of the Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Raising the Bar) Act of 2012 is considered the most important amendment relating to IP laws in Australia for the last three decades, since the passage of the Patents Act in 1990. The bill, which contains six major changes, seeks to better arm ABF in its battle against counterfeiters.
Perhaps the most important amendment involves the Notice of Objection (NoO) Scheme, which compels importers to file an official claim on goods seized by the agency. This allows IP rights owners to easily identify importers of counterfeit or pirated goods. Previously, this information could only be obtained through a long court process. Knowing the identity of counterfeit importers will allow IP right owners to better protect their brand domestically, either through the legal system or by working alongside law enforcement agencies.
Monitoring Online Sales Activity
ABF uses proprietary profiling techniques to analyse and identify online transactions to identify and intercept shipments of counterfeit goods. The bulk of ABF’s seizures occur in the international mail stream, with electronics making up the largest product group. In 2017/18, 9,050 of the over 200,000 items seized, valued in excess of $2.5 million, were electronic items.
Brand owners can help ABF to combat the pirating menace by registering the trademark or copyright of their products with IP Australia. Thereafter, brand owners should participate in the Notice of Objection (NoO) Scheme to provide ABF officers with the knowledge and legal right to go after counterfeiters.