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Custom Recordal of IPRs in Liberia


Custom Recordal of IPRs
The Section 18 of the Intellectual Property Act, 2016 forms the legal basis for Custom Recordal of IPRs (Border Control Measures) in Liberia.
Custom Recordal of IPRs is effective both on the import and export of goods.
It is the role of the customers to inspect and detain goods, which are suspicious in nature to prevent the circulation of infringing goods. The customs may do the same suo moto or by an application made in furtherance of such remedial action.
The holder of the exclusive rights in a mark or a geographical indication under this Act, who has valid grounds for suspecting that the importation of counterfeit may take place, may file an application with the Director General requesting him to order the customs authority to suspend the customs clearance of such goods.
a) The application for suspension of customs clearance should be presented in writing and should state the grounds for the request.
b) It should be accompanied by:
1. Prima facie evidence that the applicant is the holder of the exclusive right in the mark or geographical indication;
2. Prima facie evidence that his right has been infringed upon or that an infringement is imminent;
3. A sufficiently detailed description of the goods alleged to be counterfeit to make them readily recognizable; and
4. The prescribed fee.
The applicant should furnish all the information necessary, a sample of the genuine goods produced by or with the consent of the rights holder, a sample or photograph of the goods alleged to be counterfeit, or other means enabling the customs authority to recognize the said goods, to enable the Director General to take a decision on the requested suspension. The information furnished by the person applying for suspension should include, if known, the following:
1. The name and address of the importers and/or consignees of the goods alleged to be counterfeit;
2. The country or countries of origin or manufacture of the goods alleged to be counterfeit;
3. The names and addresses of persons or business entities involved in the manufacture and distribution of the goods alleged to be counterfeit; and
4. The manner of transportation and the names and addresses of the transporters of the goods alleged to be counterfeit.
There is no specified time limit as to which the customs authority has to notify the applicant corresponding to the application being accepted or rejected. However, the same is conveyed at the earliest.
The customs authority has a centralized system.
There is no procedure to record intellectual property rights online. A written application has to be made with the Director General of the customs.
The term of custom recordal of intellectual property rights may be extended to the term of the intellectual property itself. It is then the decision of the Director General to specify the period for which the customs authority will have to take action.
Where the customs, upon a written application or on their own motion find that the goods being imported or exported into/from Liberia contain counterfeit or pirated goods, the clearance of the said goods may be suspended.
The applicant beers the liabilities and expenses related to suspension of the release of infringing goods.
The applicant has to confirm the same within a period of 10 days, which may be extended by a further period of 10 working days in special circumstances.
The same has to be produced within 10 working days.
The Director General may require the rights holder to provide security or other equivalent assurance to:
i. Cover any liability on his part vis-à-vis persons affected by border measures where the said measures are discontinued by virtue of an act or omission by the rights holder or where the goods in question are subsequently found not to be infringing;
ii. Ensure payment of the expenditure incurred in keeping the goods in suspension by the customs authority; and
iii. Prevent any abuse of the border measures or compensate in case of such abuse.
Upon finding that the goods are infringing in nature, the IP rights holder, as well as the importer or exporter, are notified about the retention of those goods. It is then the responsibility of the IP rights holder to institute legal proceedings in the court of law where the fate of the goods and corresponding liabilities are decided.
Yes, the customs authority invites the rights holder and the importer to join the proceedings. Failure or delay to join such proceedings shall lead to the goods being released.
An aggrieved party may lodge an appeal against any decision taken by the Director General on or in connection with the suspension or release into free circulation of counterfeit goods. The appeal may be filed within 02 months from the notification of the decision.
The court may require the submission of other documents as may be required in accordance with the facts and circumstances of each case.
The court may order the disposal of counterfeit goods outside the channels of commerce in such a way as to preclude injury to the rights holder without the compensation of any sort. Also, re-exporting or placing the goods under a different custom procedure won’t be allowed.