Tricky trainers

In 2019, IPR expert Rob Dedel was involved in the interception of almost 3,000 pairs of fake Nikes. The sender of these trainers tried to fool the authorities in the most cunning manner.

“The port of Rotterdam receives a lot of so-called low-value textile and shoes, mainly from Asia. It concerns clothes and shoes that have not been declared at the correct rate, which means not enough customs duties are paid. We had an inkling the same was true for this particular batch, which is why it had been selected for a physical check. The colleague who made the check soon discovered something bizarre about these trainers: they bore some kind of stickers on the side, with a made-up name in strange letters. When he removed one of those labels, a Nike logo appeared. This meant they could be fakes and that’s why I was called in.”

“As is standard in these cases, I drew up an official report of findings and took a lot of digital photos of the packaging, the inside of the box, the brand name, the swoosh, the sole and all labels... I e-mailed all of this information to my colleagues of the IPR team in Groningen, who in their turn forwarded it to the trademark holder. They concluded that they were, indeed, infringing goods.”

“The manufacturer started civil proceedings against the recipient of the trainers, which is customary in such situations. The outcome is often the same: the recipient surrenders the goods, after which they are destroyed under the supervision of an official. The same thing happened in this case, although I have to say that ‘destroyed’ is not quite the right word. Ninety percent of all confiscated fake brand products in the Netherlands are sent to a sheltered employment centre in the city of Goes, where they are disassembled and recycled. Shoes are often ground into reusable raw materials.”

This interview also appeared in our recently issued overview ‘Dutch Customs in 2019’. Click here to read the full publication.

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