Battling counterfeits through Customs

For many years Mexico has faced significant problems regarding the sale and distribution of counterfeit products. The Mexican government, with the collaboration of IP rights owners, has taken various enforcement actions against counterfeiters. The most noteworthy of these have been the actions taken at the border to challenge the import of counterfeits into Mexico.

Mexican Customs has initiated an unparallelled effort to challenge this problem. According to the official figures issued by Customs, during 2009 anti-counterfeiting actions taken through border measures increased by 300% compared to 2008. This is due to the so-called "zero tolerance" policy implemented by Customs and IP rights owners.

The changes have been achieved by collaboration between several federal enforcement agencies: Customs, the Mexican Trademark and Patent Office (IMPI) and the Attorney General's Office (PGR). The IMPI is in charge of the prosecution of trademark, copyright and patent infringements, while the PGR prosecutes criminal actions against copyright and trademark felonies.

Customs is working to close all the routes used to import counterfeit goods into Mexico. Consequently, counterfeiters are looking for new ways to import illegal products, such as through courier services. Using these services, importers bring in small products or spare parts in separate shipments (particularly small electronic devices, mobile phones and jewellery). In this context, Customs is improving its ability to detect suspicious shipments in courier services, allowing many IP owners to take enforcement actions against such imports.

Despite these new initiatives, there are still many actions that the government can take to step up the fight against counterfeiters, such as giving Customs sufficient authority to deal with anti-counterfeiting matters. Congress is expected to consider an amendment on this subject in the near future.


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