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Guide to Customs Administration

Protection of Intellectual Property Rights

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What are intellectual property rights?

  • Intellectual property rights are rights to protect literary works, artistic works, scientific works, registered trademarks, company names, etc. and all the other rights generated from intellectual activities in the industrial, scientific, literary or artistic area.
  • Intellectual property rights are the generic term of patent rights, utility model rights, design rights and trademark rights. They are intangible property rights as exclusive rights under which mental creative works or created methods of people involved in industrial activities are recognized.
  • It is difficult to effectively protect intellectual property rights without positive intervention by the state because they are characteristically easy to copy unlike tangible property rights.

Protection of intellectual property rights by the Customs

The World Trade Organization (WTO) concluded the TRIPs Agreement in order to internationally protect intellectual property rights which promote industrial development and lead the information society. Through the TRIPs Agreement, WTO achieves international unification with respect to the protection of intellectual property rights and strictly prohibits international trade in any goods which infringe upon intellectual property rights.

※TRIPs Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Including Trade in Counterfeit Goods
  • Therefore, the Customs restricts export or import of goods which infringe upon intellectual property rights including trademark rights, an unfair trade act which is internationally prohibited as such an act hinders industrial development and deceives consumers (Article 235 of the Customs Act).
  • In addition, besides the right to withhold the customs clearance of goods which infringe upon trade rights, copyrights, variety protection rights, geographical indications (rights), patent rights or design rights, the right to investigate intellectual property right infringement crimes related to export or import is granted to customs officials under the “Act on the Persons Performing the Duties of Judicial Police Officials and the Scope of Their Duties”, and thus they are investigating and punishing not only crimes infringing upon trademark rights or copyrights but also crimes infringing upon any other intellectual property rights related to export or import, such as patent rights.

Diagram of the Customs’ Intellectual Property Right Protection System

Diagram of the Customs’ Intellectual Property Right Protection System

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