Is Custom Recordal of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) available in Sierra Leone?
Is Custom Recordal of IPRs compulsory in Sierra Leone?
Is it an effective measure to stop the infiltration of illegal and counterfeit products in Sierra Leone?
Which law forms the legal basis for Custom Recordal of IPRs (Border Control Measures) in Sierra Leone?
The Customs Act, 2011 forms the legal basis for Custom Recordal of IPRs (Border Control Measures) in Sierra Leone.
Is Custom Recordal of IPRs effective on import or export of goods or both?
The procedure is effective on imported goods, goods in transit, and goods destined for exportation.
What is the role of the customs department/authority? (Kindly give 2-3 points)
The role of the customs authority is to act in furtherance of the application made to the customs. However, the customs may also act on their own motion where they suspect the imported goods may infringe upon the rights of a legitimate IP rights holder. Thereafter, it is the role of the customers to identify and detain allegedly infringing goods until and unless a final determination by the court of law is made.
Is there a procedure to record IP with the customs department/authority? If yes, then kindly explain it in brief.
The IP rights holder may submit an application to the customs –
Requesting the customs to suspend the clearance of goods suspected of infringing the rights in a registered patent, trademark, or copyright;
Requesting that the customs suspend clearance of goods that are suspected of infringing their copyright or related right; or
Requesting the customs to suspend clearance of goods infringing the intellectual property rights that are mentioned above, provided in case of geographical indications, the applicant must provide the evidence of the goods that proves that the goods are in violation of the national law in the country of origin.
What documents are to be submitted along with the application for Custom Recordal of IPRs?
Any application in respect of the goods infringing the intellectual property rights including protection defeating devices should be made in an approved format, which may include by electronic media, as may be prescribed by the Commissioner General, and should be accompanied, where appropriate, by the following:
Details concerning the applicant and appropriate contact information;
Where the applicant is an authorized representative, authorization from the rights holder in accordance with applicable law;
Adequate evidence of the existence and ownership of the valid intellectual property right;
A statement of the grounds for the application for border measures related to shipments in general;
In case of specific shipment of allegedly infringing goods, statement of the grounds for the application, including primer for Sai evidence showing that such intellectual property rights have been infringed or that the rights are about to be infringed or that the shipment contains protection defeating devices; and
Sufficiently detailed description of the goods in respect of which an intellectual property right applies, together where appropriate, with a sample of a genuine product.
Is the applicant required to execute a bond (against all liabilities and to bear the costs towards destruction, demurrage, and detention charges incurred till the time of destruction or disposal) with the customs department/authority for Custom Recordal of IPRs?
What is the time frame for the customs department/authority to notify the applicants whether their application (for custom recordal of IPRs) is registered or rejected?
Within a reasonable period of time, not exceeding 30 working days from the date of receipt of an application under the said clause of the customs act, the customs shall notify the applicant whether the application has been granted or rejected.
Does the customs department/authority have a centralized system or the Custom Recordal is required to be done with each port of entry in Sierra Leone by land, sea, and air?
As per section 54 of the act, the customs shall establish a centralized system for managing the applications for the suspension of custom clearance.
Is there an online system for Custom Recordal in Sierra Leone?
What is the official fee for Custom Recordal in Sierra Leone?
What is the term of Custom Recordal of IPRs? Can it be further renewed?
The minimum duration for such assistance shall not be less than 01 year unless the applicant request a shorter period for assistance or applies for action in case of specific shipments.
Does the customs department/authority have a right to conduct raids and seize the counterfeit goods within Sierra Leone?
In which scenario does the customs department/authority suspend the clearance of imported goods?
Where the Customs authority finds that certain goods may be of infringing nature, the same are suspended until the final determination of the nature of those goods is made by the appropriate court of law.
Who bears the liabilities and expenses related to suspension of the release of infringing goods?
The applicant bears the liabilities and expenses related to suspension of the release of infringing goods.
Is the IP rights holder authorized to examine the goods, the clearance of which has been suspended?
Is the IP rights holder authorized to request the information about the personal details of the importer and additional crucial piece of information concerning the consignment, which has been suspended from clearance?
Can the importer or the authorized representative of the goods, which have been suspended from clearance, request the information of the IP rights holder in question?
Within what timeframe the IP rights holder needs to confirm whether the goods are counterfeit or original after suspension?
Is the IP rights holder required to produce an injunction order or evidence of court proceedings to detain the goods?
If the answer to the above question is 'Yes,' then what is the deadline to do so?
Does the IP rights holder need to pay an additional bond for the detention of goods?
If the answer to the above question is 'Yes,' then to what extent and how is the valuation calculated?
The Customs require an applicant to provide a security or equivalent assurance or undertaking, sufficient to protect the importer, consignee, consignor, exporter, or owner of the goods and the competent authorities. However, such security or assurance shall not be fixed at an amount, which would unreasonably deter recourse to these procedures.
In the scenario where the goods detained or seized are found to be infringing the IPRs of the IP rights holder in question, what steps does the customs department/authority take?
The customs, within a reasonable time, inform the IP rights holder of such detention, after which, a suit had to be initiated by a party other than the defendant.
Does the customs authority invite the rights holder and importer to join the proceedings? Are there any consequences of failure to join such proceeding, if any?
Yes, the customs authority invites the rights holder and the importer to join the legal proceedings within a period of 10 days. In appropriate cases, at the discretion of the officer, 10 days period maybe extended by an additional 10 working days. In the case of perishable goods suspected of infringing intellectual property rights, the period shall be 03 working days.
Before disposal/destruction of infringing goods, does the rights holder need to submit a ‘no objection’ or concurrence document?
Are there any disadvantages of Custom Recordal of IPRs in Sierra Leone? If yes, then kindly give 2-3 points?
If an IP rights holder is not satisfied with the action taken by the customs department/authority, can he/she initiate separate legal proceedings to enforce his/her IP rights?
To establish if the goods are counterfeit before the court of justice, will the affidavit by the IP rights holder suffice or any other documentary requirement is there?
The court may require submission of additional documents as may be needed to establish the fate of the allegedly infringing goods.
Upon conclusion of proceedings before the Court of Justice, what are the possible remedies awarded by the court?
Upon conclusion of proceedings, the court may order disposal of such goods outside the channels of commerce and in such manner as to minimize the risk of further infringement. The customs do not allow re-exportation of infringing goods.
Is the rights holder under an obligation to inform customs authority when his Intellectual Property Right ceases to be valid/ he ceases to be the owner of such IPR?