Counterfeit UGG boots
Many stars and models like them: UGGs, trendy lambskin boots from Australia.
The boots are therefore expensive. So Ms. Koller (name changed by editor) was excited to find a pair for a relatively cheap price. The website www.uggs-uk.com showed the original logo, so Ms. Koller supposed that it was the English branch of UGG Australia.
Letter from customs
But instead of the boots, she got a registered letter from Austrian customs: The boots seem to be counterfeit and therefore are being held back according to the EC Counterfeiting Regulation. Ms. Koller had to decide whether she approved to destroy the boots or not.
She would have the right to enter an objection. Then a court would examine whether the suspicion of counterfeiting can be confirmed. Ms. Koller turned to the European Consumer Centre Austria (ECC) for advise.
Due to the legal situation, the ECC recommended Ms. Koller to agree to the destruction of the boots. The website www.uggs-uk.com is registered by a man called Fang Jie in China and has nothing to do with the official website of the company UGG Australia. Ms. Koller would loose a court proceeding.
Counterfeiting UGG boots seems to be a profitable business in China. The official company UGG Australia has a tool to check counterfeiting on its website: http://counterfeit.uggaustralia.com/. With this tool consumers can check whether a website that offers UGG boots is operated by an official trader or not. It shows that Mr. Fang Jie from China operates several UGG websites with the URL www.uggboots-australia.com that is extremely similar to the official UGG website.
Very cheap offers should therefore make you suspicious, especially regarding such popular pieces as UGG boots. You should check the imprint of such websites for the company name, address and contact details. On the Chinese website, only an email address was stated.
If you don't find the website with the tool of UGG Australia's website, you also can search for it on the website of the worldwide Internet registration authority (Network Information Center NIC). With the service "whois" you can find out in which country the website is registrated.
Ms. Koller paid for the boots with her credit card and asked the credit card company for a chargeback. It's the only way for her to get her money back.
EC Counterfeiting Regulation
This EU Regulation protects intellectual property and regulates in which cases a customs authority can act on the suspicion of counterfeiting. If products (like in the case described above) are being held back, the consumer who ordered the product gets a written notification.
After he received this notification, a period of ten working days starts. Within these ten days, the consumer can decide whether he agrees to the destruction of the product (= simple process) or if he disagrees. If he doesn't react within the ten days, it is understood as approval to the destruction.
Costs for lawyer and court proceedings
In case of disapproval, the rights holder can initate criminal or civil proceedings in order to examine whether the products violate the copyrights. If this is the case, the consumer is liable to damages as well as obliged to pay the costs for the court proceedings and the lawyers.
It is therefore better to agree to the destruction of the products if it is likely that they are counterfeit.
28th December 2009