What is special about STOP PIRACY?
Swiss businesses from all different sectors and governmental agencies have combined forces in a public-private partnership. Together they are declaring war on counterfeiting and piracy.
Who is financing the platform’s activities?
The platform is supported by its members. They contribute according to their individual possibilities – financially, with know-how, or in some other way.
What is a counterfeit?
Trademarks, designs, indications of source or inventions are all objects of forgery. Counterfeits aim to imitate the image of the original. For example, whoever produces athletic shoes that look like Puma sneakers without permission is engaged in counterfeiting.
What is piracy?
Piracy is the unauthorized copying of works and performances which are protected by a copyright or neighboring right. Downloading software without the author’s permission is considered piracy, for example.
What all is counterfeited or pirated today?
Very simple: everything. There is nothing which is not also counterfeited. Counterfeiter creativity is boundless. The top items worldwide are leather goods, cigarettes, toys, CD's and DVD’s, and textiles.
How can a consumer recognize a counterfeit?
A noticeably lower price for a normally expensive brand-name product is one of the most important signs that it could be a counterfeit. If the latest luxury handbag costs only a tenth of the usual price, something isn’t right. A further key is where it is sold: original brand-name products are rarely sold at beaches or public markets. If the original packaging is missing or there are no instructions and no guarantee certificate, it is also good to be cautious. In particular, one needs to be careful when purchasing over the internet.
Why is it necessary to take action in Switzerland even though counterfeiting generally takes place abroad?
The production of counterfeits is so lucrative because there is such a demand for them – even in Switzerland. Whoever buys counterfeits is supporting illegal activities which are increasingly controlled by organized crime. Swiss consumers also share responsibility for this reason. In addition, Switzerland continues to encourage the notorious countries of origin to effectively fight against counterfeiting and piracy.
Why was it necessary to regulate by law that consumers may no longer import counterfeits for private use?
Many reasons led to no longer allowing counterfeits to be imported for private use. For one thing, the private import of counterfeits has increased year after year (presumably because of the growing internet trade). For another, counterfeiting bands have minimized their risk by increasingly sending their commercial shipments for Switzerland in small packages. Finally, it is difficult to make a case against counterfeited products abroad when fellow-countrymen are buying them and bringing them unchecked back to Switzerland.
Are people who offer counterfeited goods for sale liable to prosecution?
Those who deliberately infringe the intellectual property right of someone else by offering counterfeits can, in fact, be punished in Switzerland. If the act is committed for commercial purposes, the criminal authorities can take action of ex officio. Since July 1, 2008, the custodial sentence is up to five years and the monetary penalty up to a maximum of CHF 1,080,000.
Medicines (drugs and products)
Source: Swissmedic & Interpharma
How extensive is the danger of fake medicines in Switzerland?
So far, relatively few cases of counterfeited medicines have been found in Switzerland. This is primarily because Switzerland's size allows the distribution channels to be relatively neat and transparent. The distribution channels are monitored by the pharmaceutical companies themselves as well as through federal inspection. However, ordering medicines over the internet can present a danger for patients in Switzerland because their origin cannot be traced and such distribution channels escape official monitoring. Numerous unapproved, counterfeited, expired or ineffective medicines of dubious quality can be ordered over the internet. Often misleading claims about the positive effect are made without any mention of possible risks.
Which medicines are forged particularly often?
Live-saving medicines such as antibiotics, malaria, and other medicines specifically used in those countries are counterfeited. According to cases registered with WHO, up to 60% of counterfeiting involves developing countries. In the western part of the world, such as in Europe and the USA, primarily so-called ‘life-style’ products (e.g., steroids, erection aides and dieting aides) are counterfeited. But medicines against diseases which should be treated under a physician's care are also involved (e.g., to lower blood pressure or treat emotional disorders).
From which countries do fake medicines arrive in Switzerland?
As in other countries, particularly the unmonitored importation of medicines from countries such as China, India, Russia or Latin America can have negative consequences for health in Switzerland. However, the logistics of the transport route often hide the actual country of origin so unsure sources from any country should be handled with care.
Who is responsible for the quality of medicines?
Swissmedic (Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products) is the central office for medicinal product safety. It collaborates closely with the cantonal health authorities to uphold the Swiss drug law. The agency has a published a guideline (pdf 60 KB) which informs about potential dangers in acquiring medicines over the internet. Swissmedic generally warns people about buying medicines from an unmonitored source such as the internet.
What are authorities and industry doing against medicinal product counterfeiting in Switzerland?
Swissmedic is responsible for drug and medicinal product safety and for enforcing the drug law (HMG) in Switzerland. It is active in the European Council and at other European and international levels in diverse committees. The national network with authorities such as the customs agents, the police, and the Institute of Intellectual property is important for this. Communication with the pharmaceutical industry and consistent prosecution in cases of infringement are central to the fight against counterfeiting. The industry supports measures by the approval authorities which draw the public’s attention to the risks involved in medicines ordered over the internet. Every pharmaceutical company has its own strategy for products which are particularly vulnerable to counterfeiting: Technological instruments, such as bar codes, can be used to exactly trace the path of a product. To some extent, visually recognizable elements such as holograms or hidden identification marks can also be used.
How does the pharmaceutical industry fight against counterfeiting?
Imports are controlled by Customs. Illegal pharmaceutical imports are seized and Swissmedic initiates an administrative procedure which results in the loss of the medicines and costs for the recipient. In addition to these measures against private importers, measures—partly as international cooperation—are also taken against businesses which distribute illegal counterfeited or unapproved medicines. The pharmaceutical industry is engaged at a broad level in the fight against counterfeiting as well.
What is the biggest risk of medicines ordered over the internet?
Counterfeiting and illegal imports can only be avoided when the channels for selling can be controlled. This is the task of companies and the monitoring authorities. In particular, ordering medicines over the internet makes such control difficult or impossible. Ordering medicines over the internet thus harbors risks: A 1999 study showed that the quality of the goods delivered is very uneven. Some of the defects in the confiscated goods were: Unmatching, wrong, or too little active ingredient and unidentifiable impurities. In addition, not all of the delivered medicines included the packaging information or sufficient consumer information on the exterior of the packaging. Almost all of the packaging had the information printed in English, Flemish, French, Italian, or Spanish. Generally, it must be stated that the ingestion of medicine from unknown producers, and thus of dubious composition, for which no or insufficient instructions are included, often include large health risks. Medicines ordered over the internet are often of dubious source and have no guarantee that they are not fake or counterfeited. The fact that the country of origin cannot be checked for internet orders makes it complicated. A German website, for instance, does not necessarily deliver medicines from Germany.
Are there guidelines for ordering medicinal products on the internet?
Swissmedic wrote a guideline for consumers titled “Medicines & the Internet” (pdf 60 KB) in March 2008. It provides up-to-date information about the risks of internet drug purchase as well as practical tips, links, and a checklist to help find information and prevent careless purchasing.
How can patients protect themselves?
Large-scale counterfeited drugs are not yet known in Switzerland. The Swiss approval agency, Swissmedic, however, generally warns people about buying medicines from an unmonitored source such as the internet. Fake medicines carry increased risk. A medicine is also not like any other product and can have both desirable effects and undesirable side-effects. That's why it is important to get advice from a pharmacist or doctor.
How good are the legal bases in Switzerland for fighting counterfeited medicines?
The drug act from 2002 provides sufficient bases or sanctioning possibilities to intervene in activities concerning illegal medicinal products. A fundamental condition is the consistent quality control of medicines, which is also assured through the drug law.
Source: FH – Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry
Is a fake watch a joke?
No. Behind counterfeiting are usually well-organized criminal networks which profit from the lucrative margins of profit in the trade in counterfeit. Besides the buyer who acquires inferior quality goods, there are others involved who are also hurt. For instance, the counterfeiting industry works in the shadows making it easier to exploit children and the poorest of the poor. At the same time, counterfeiters avoid paying taxes, customs fees, social security contributions, and other such monies connected to manufacturing activities and thus hurt society as a whole.
How does one know if a watch is not a genuine?
There are various indications which make it possible to distinguish between a real watch and a fake one:
- A brand-name watch sold on the sidewalk or roadside is clearly a fake.
- Numerous designations on the watch housing or band, often of poor quality, indicate counterfeiting.
- Lack of official guarantee certificate for the watch is evidence that it is a fake. However, the existence of such a certificate is no proof to the contrary because counterfeiters, in the meantime, forge guarantees as well.
- Swiss brand-name watchmakers pay particular attention to the finish of the components. Poor detail quality indicates a fake.
- Messy packaging or a mixture of different brands in the same packaging indicates counterfeit watches.
Which rights are regularly infringed by counterfeited watches?
Mostly trademark and design rights. In addition, counterfeiters use incorrect geographical indications such as “Swiss” or “Swiss made.” The use of such indications of source for watches is regulated in Switzerland and only those who uphold the provisions of it are entitled to use the indication. Fake symbols for precious metals stamped on components not meeting the requirements are also found.
Is it risky to buy watches over the internet?
Purchasing watches online has to be done with care and the consumer should carefully check the offered goods. The portion of fakes available over online platforms is very high. This is also why a lot of Swiss brands active in the luxury goods sector have completely renounced selling over the internet and do so only through authorized distributors.
Where can I find authorized distributors?
Lists of authorized distributors can be found on the website of the manufacturer.
What do I need to look out for when buying jewellery or watches in foreign countries?
If you buy jewellery or watches in foreign countries, you should be particularly careful: During inspections, apparent bargains often turn out to be defective or even forgeries. (e.g. counterfeited brand-name goods or faked precious metals stamps). Zero tolerance for forgeries: customs are obliged to confiscate and destroy the falsifications.
Source: Federal Customs Administration
What is the tax-free allowance for importation of jewellery and watches?
If no other goods are imported, the tax-free allowance for importation of jewellery and watches is CHF 300 (total value) per person per day provided you travel with the goods.
Source: Federal Customs Administration
Source: Swiss Cigarette
How can I avoid getting fooled by counterfeited cigarettes?
Only buy cigarettes in the legitimate trade channels. In all cases, avoid buying them from street vendors, at flea markets, and over the internet.
What are the risks of counterfeited cigarettes?
Smoking damages your health, whether you smoke real ones or counterfeited cigarettes. There is no such thing as a safe cigarette. If you’re concerned about the health effects of smoking, you should quit smoking. However…, that said, some governmental agencies in Europe regard counterfeited cigarettes as being an additional health risk. For example, according to a study of British customs authorities many counterfeited cigarettes are manufactured in underground factories using impure tabacco leaves. That considerably increases the health risks of smoking because the levels of tar, nicotine, carbon monoxide, lead, cadmium, and arsenic are much higher than with genuine industry cigarettes.
Am I allowed to trade in counterfeited or illegally copied products?
No. Trade in counterfeited goods and pirated copies is illegal. You risk in particular civil and penal sanctions.
Am I allowed to buy counterfeited brand-name products and import them to Switzerland?
No. The large global increase in counterfeiting and piracy and the greater numbers of products involved which endanger health and security have made legislative reform a necessity. As of July 1, 2008, importing design and trademark counterfeits to Switzerland for commercial as well as private purposes is illegal. At border crossings, customs has the right to seize all counterfeited goods, even those imported in small amounts exclusively for private use.
Will private persons be punished when the product is seized at customs?
No. Contrary to the legal situation in certain neighboring countries (e.g. Italy and France), Swiss legislators have refrained from penalizing private use. The goal of the new regulation is to consistently pull counterfeited products out of circulation.
Will the product be seized even if the owner is unaware that it is a counterfeit?
Not knowing or not recognizing a counterfeit is not a defense against seizure of the goods. Also, the fact that a product was already purchased a while back is no help. If the Swiss customs have a petition by the rights owner, counterfeits destined for private use can be seized and destroyed, whether they are being imported, exported or carried in transit.
The amendment of the Patent Act has introduced some changes which are important for consumers. How are these changes being communicated?
STOP PIRACY, the involved trade associations, the Federal Institute of Intellectual Property and consumer organizations are disseminating information and bringing attention to the provisions through various targeted measures: Flyers are being handed out to travelers, posters hung at border crossings and information spread around airports and travel agencies, in travel magazines and over the internet, etc.
What happens when the rights owner does not petition for assistance for counterfeited goods that have been withheld by customs, or petitions belatedly?
The counterfeited goods are assessed for import, export or transit and released by customs.
To whom must the petition for assistance by the Customs Administration be submitted?
To the Central Customs Office, Customs processing section, 3003 Bern For information see www.ezv.admin.ch (Information for companies -> counterfeiting and piracy).
What happens when it turns out that the goods were unjustifiably withheld or destroyed?
If the goods are unjustifiably withheld or destroyed, the petitioner is liable for the incurred damages.
How do customs agents recognize counterfeits?
It is not up to the Customs Administration to decide whether counterfeits are involved or not. The Customs Administration can withhold goods when it has a suspicion. However, whether or not a product is a counterfeit is for the courts to decide.
When the rights owner petitions the Customs Administration, he must also provide records and information to help customs officials determine whether they are dealing with counterfeits. The better the records and information, the higher the chance of success.
Points of orientation can also be the source of the goods, the transport route, the type of packaging or the (inferior) quality.
Will there now be increased checks at customs?
No. The new regulation does not affect the frequency of the controls. Customs are only authorized to withhold any counterfeiting they discover—independently from whether it is intended for private or commercial use.
Fequently asked questions about copyrights at the Federal Institute of Intellectual Property: What does the © sign mean? Am I allowed to copy CDs? Am I allowed to resell a software program? Etc.
Why did the Copyright Act need amending?
Because of the new reproduction and distribution possibilities in the age of digital technology, it was necessary to increase protection for those engaged in the cultural sector. It is essential for the Swiss arts and entertainment industry to have a functioning protection through international treaties. The WCT and WPPT treaties offer just such protection. Thanks to the partial amendment of the Copyright Act, these treaties will be applicable in Switzerland.
Why are technological measures now protected?
Technological measures help protect the vulnerable rights of authors in the digital environment from being unlawfully used. The amended Copyright Act prohibits the circumvention of technological measures for that reason.