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Venezuela's smuggling law may assist IP owners

The National Assembly of Venezuela reportedly enacted a Criminal Smuggling Law which was published late last year. Two provisions of the law are said to be of specific benefit to intellectual property owners. The first provides that penalties will be increased by 50 percent if the smuggled goods infringe IP rights. This means that a person convicted of the “simple smuggling” of goods bearing a counterfeit mark may be imprisoned for 9 to 12 years. Secondly, seized goods that infringe IP rights must be publicly destroyed or incinerated within six months after conviction of the defendant, in the presence of the presiding judge and a representative of the Attorney General’s Office. As an alternative, the goods may be donated to not-for-profit associations or institutions after removal of the infringing mark.

It's not only smugglers who are at risk from this law. Customs officials who appropriate, dispose of, consume or distribute seized goods, or who interfere with their delivery to a competent authority, may be imprisoned for five to nine years.

Source: INTA Bulletin, June 1, 2011 Vol. 66 No. 10

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