Criminal proceedings

Civil remedies are not the only way of enforcing intellectual property rights. Most countries provide for criminal proceedings in cases of deliberate infringements or infringements done for commercial purpose or which have resulted in particular harm to the right holder.

Art. 61 of the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement requires Member States to provide for criminal procedures and penalties in cases of willful trade mark counterfeiting and copyright piracy on a commercial scale. Such penalties, according to the TRIPS Agreement, must include imprisonment and/or monetary fines which are sufficient to deter from infringement and, in appropriate cases, seizure, forfeiture and destruction of the infringing goods and related materials. Members are free to add criminal procedures for other infringements of IP rights, in particular if they are committed willfully and on a commercial scale.

If a right holder finds out that their rights have been infringed upon in a manner that is criminal according to the applicable national law, he may contact the police or other competent authority. The right holder should be prepared to provide the authorities with all available information on the infringement. The authorities will then decide whether to initiate action such as prosecution.

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