Are there criminal sanctions for infringement of any intellectual property rights, and if so, what are they and how are they invoked?

Intellectual Property (2nd edition)

France Small Flag France

Infringers may face criminal sanctions up to three years of imprisonment and a fine of 300, 000 euros for copyright (Article L.335-2-1 of the IPC), neighbouring rights (Article L.335-4 of the IPC), designs (Article L521-10 of the IPC), plant varieties certifications (Article L.623-32-2 of the IPC) and patents (Article L.615-1 of the IPC).

For trademarks, the sanction is up to four years of imprisonment and a fine of 400,000 euros (Article L.716-9 of the IPC).

For manufacturing secrets, the sanction is up to two years of imprisonment and a fine of 30,000 euros (Article L.621-1 of the IPC and Article L.1227-1 of the Labour Code).

For legal entities, the fine is equal to five times the amount set for individuals (Article 131-38 of the Criminal Code). Furthermore, the sanctions mentioned in article 131-39 of the Criminal Code such as dissolution or closure of the company shall apply .

Criminal prosecution of infringement can either be pursued by the right holder or directly by the public prosecutor.

Switzerland Small Flag Switzerland

Patent, copyright, trademark, design, topography rights and plant variety rights infringement is considered a criminal offence. Criminal liability requires the infringer to have acted wilfully. The sanction is a custodial sentence of up to 1 year and/or a fine. If the offender acts for commercial gain, the sanction is a custodial sentence of up to 5 years or and/or a fine.

Criminal proceedings can be brought by filing a complaint before the competent cantonal criminal prosecutions authorities, either orally or in writing. If the offender acts for commercial gain, he/she shall be prosecuted ex officio.

Poland Small Flag Poland

Certain acts concerning intellectual property rights are prohibited as crimes or misdemeanours, with sanctions of up to five years of imprisonment.

The main crimes concerning intellectual property rights are:

  • Trade mark counterfeiting: placing counterfeit trade marks on goods with the intent of distributing them to the market, as well as trading with such goods;
  • Copyright infringement: disseminating copyrighted works without authorisation;
  • Handling illegal copies of copyright goods: acquiring, helping to sell, receiving or helping to hide the media with unauthorised copies of works, if the perpetrator has acted in order to gain an economic benefit;
  • Manufacturing, advertising or using devices for the purpose of removal or circumvention of technical measures designed to restrict unauthorised reproduction of copyrighted works;

The materials and tools used in these offences may be confiscated by the state treasury. In some cases, the confiscation is compulsory.

There are no criminal sanctions for patent infringement per se.

Lesser crimes concerning intellectual property rights include filing for protection with respect to someone else's subject of rights, or misleading labelling of goods as protected by patents or trade marks.

In general, the crimes concerning intellectual property infringements are prosecuted at the request of the injured party. Only those committed in respect of goods of high value, or where committing the crime has been the perpetrator's permanent source of income, are prosecuted ex officio.

Italy Small Flag Italy

There are few provisions related to criminal sanctions set out for the infringement of IP rights. The main rules are Article 127 of the IPC and Articles 473 and 474 of the Italian Criminal Code that punish the infringement, use or introduction within our country of counterfeited goods.

If the infringement is particularly serious, criminal action based on these provisions may be brought by the Public Prosecutor, i.e. without private prosecution. The criminal route is frequently invoked in Italy to induce a deterrent effect against the infringement.

As for copyright, the general provision is set out in Article 171 ter ICL that expressly punishes with a fine and imprisonment many types of conducts of third parties who acting for non-personal purposes and without the consent of the copyright holder, duplicate, reproduce, transmit sell or made available to the public in any way protected work. This rule also punishes the conduct of third parties who, although not having taken part in the duplication and reproduction of the protected work, introduce in the territory of the States, sell, rent and in any way make available to the public the work itself. Article 171 bis ICL is dedicated to the punishment of duplication, reproduction, distribution, sale or rent of software and database. The residual provision stated in Article 171 ICL punishes with a fine the conducts that are not included in the above-mentioned rules and further provides that, if the said fact harms the right of paternity, is able to prejudice the reputation of the author or concerns work not publicly available, it will apply the sanction of imprisonment.

Cyprus Small Flag Cyprus

Some intellectual property rights have criminal sanctions for infringement in certain conditions provided by the laws regulated these rights. The penalties vary from a fine to a term of imprisonment of up to three years as described below.

There are no criminal sanctions for patent infringement, but the law provides that it is a criminal offense not to comply with a Court order prohibiting the infringement of a patent in the future. The penalty is a fine that cannot exceed sixty thousand Euros or up to three-years imprisonment or both penalties. This provision also applies in case of non-complying with an order prohibiting the infringement of a trade mark or a copyright.

It is criminal offense to falsely represent a trade mark as registered or that it has been registered in respect of any goods or services in respect of which it is not registered. The penalty is a fine that cannot exceed two hundred and fifteen Euros.

The infringement of a copyright is a criminal offense. The penalty is a fine that cannot exceed eighty thousand Euros or up to three-year imprisonment or both penalties. For the second conviction and all the following convictions the penalty is a fine that cannot exceed a hundred thousand Euros or four-year imprisonment or both penalties.

Any person who fraudulently uses a design commits a criminal offence. The penalty is up to two-year imprisonment or a fine that cannot exceed eighty-five thousand Euros or both penalties.

The Cyprus Customs Act also provides that it is criminal offence to import into Cyprus or export out Cyprus a good which is infringing an intellectual property right. The penalty is a fine that cannot exceed three thousand Euros or up to five-year imprisonment or both penalties. For the second conviction and all the following convictions the penalty is a fine that cannot exceed five thousand Euros or five-year imprisonment or both penalties.

Israel Small Flag Israel

Designs:
According to the new Designs Law (coming into force July, 2018), a person who exploits a registered design through occupation and in a commercial manner, in one of the ways specified below and without the permission of the design holder, shall be liable to the significant fine prescribed in Section 61(a)(4) to the Penal Code-1977 (i.e., up to NIS 226,000, (approx. USD 62,414)):

  1. Manufacture of a product bearing the identical design as a registered design
  2. Importing a product that has a design identical to a registered design

In case the offense is conducted by a corporation, the fine will be doubled.

Copyrights:
A person who infringes copyrights shall be liable to up to 5 years imprisonment or fined in the amount of ten times the fine provided for in Section 61(a)(4) of the Penal Act.

A person who sells or distributes infringing goods, shall be liable to up to 3 years imprisonment or fined in the amount of seven times the fine provided for in Section 61(a)(4) of the Penal Act.
A person who holds an object to produce copies which infringe copyrights, shall be liable to up to 1 year imprisonment or double the fine provided for in Section 61(a)(4) of the Penal Act.
In case the offense is conducted by a corporation, the fine will be doubled.

Trademarks:
Plaintiff must prove that the defendant used the registered trademark without the rights holder’s authorization or approval, in a manner that may deceive a third party. If found guilty, defendants face imprisonment for up to three years, or fine in the amount of seven times the fine provided for in Section 61(a)(4) of the Penal Act.

Chile Small Flag Chile

  • Trademarks / Patents of invention / utility models / industrial drawings and designs / layout designs (topographies) of integrated circuitslayout designs (topographies) of integrated circuits:
    In the case of industrial property assets, articles 28 and 52 of the Chilean Industrial Property Law establish a fine from 1,875 USD to 75,000 USD approximately for those who:

    • maliciously and for commercial purposes use a trademark that is the same or similar to another trademark already registered for the same products or services.
    • use for commercial purposes a non-registered, expired or canceled trademark with the characteristics corresponding to a registered trademark or simulating said indications.
    • make use, for commercial purposes, of containers or packaging bearing a registered trademark without having the right to use it and without the trademark having been deleted. Cases in which the packaging of the trademark is used to package different products and not related to those protected by the trademark are expressly excluded from this conduct.
    • those who maliciously manufacture, use, offer or introduce into the market a patented invention, or import or are in possession of one, for commercial purposes.
    • those who use an object that is not patented, or whose patent has expired or has been canceled, and that uses in said object the indications corresponding to a registered patent of invention or simulating them, for commercial purposes.
    • those who maliciously make use of a patented procedure, for commercial purposes.
    • those that maliciously imitate or make use of an invention with a pending patent application unless the patent is ultimately not granted.

    If a person who has been sanctioned reoffends with the same conduct within the following five years, another fine will be applied that cannot be less than double the amount of the previous one, with a maximum amount of approximately 150,000 USD.

    The criminal actions related to Industrial Property must be initiated by means of a complaint before the justice, the public prosecutor or the police, and the criminal actions will be resolved by the Ordinary Courts with criminal jurisdiction.

  • Copyright:
    There is only one registration fee. There are no renewal payments.

Greece Small Flag Greece

  • Criminal sanctions are provided for various acts of trademark and copyright infringement. Unfair competition law also includes criminal provisions.

    Trademarks: According to article 156 of law 4072/2012 anyone who (a) intentionally uses a mark identical with or confusingly similar to a registered TM, (b) uses a famous TM in violation of Article 125 paragraph 3 (c), with the intent to exploit or harm its reputation, (c) intentionally puts into circulation, possesses, imports or exports goods or provides services under a mark of another proprietor (d) intentionally commits the acts of transiting counterfeit goods through Greece or of importing such goods for re-export, uses the mark on genuine goods that the right holder intended to market as no-name, or removes the trade mark from genuine goods and markets them as no-name goods or under a different mark, is punished by imprisonment of at least six months and a fine of at least six thousand euros. In case of trademark counterfeiting (unlawful use of identical marks for identical or similar products) when particularly high profits arise or very significant damages occur, or when the infringement is on a commercial or professional scale, stricter penalties are to be imposed (a minimum of two years’ imprisonment and a financial penalty between 6.000 to 30.000).

    The criminal prosecution does not takes place ex officio but only after the filing of a complaint by the trademark owner.

  • Copyright: Art. 66 of Law 2121/1993, criminalizes various acts of copyright infringement such as the unlawful fixation of a work or of copies, direct or indirect reproduction temporarily or permanently in any form, in whole or in part, translation, adaptation, alteration or transformation thereof, distribution to the public by sale or other means, or possession with the intent of distributing, renting, performing in public, broadcasting by radio or television or any other means, communication to the public works or copies by any means, import of copies of a work illegally produced abroad without the consent of the author and, in general, exploitation of works, reproductions or copies being the object of copyright or acts against the moral right of the author to decide freely on the publication and the presentation of his work to the public without additions or deletions.

    Such acts are punishable with imprisonment of no less than a year and to a fine of 2.900-15.000 EUR. More severe sanctions apply in case of professional or commercial scale infringement or in case the financial gain sought or the damage caused by the infringement is particularly great.

    Similarly, criminal sanctions are provided in case of infringement of related rights, of database rights, in case of an unauthorized use of computer programs or other violations.
    Criminal prosecution takes place ex officio.

  • Generally, in case of IP infringement, general criminal law provisions, such as those for forgery and/or fraud (articles 216 and 386 of the Greek Penal Code) may be also applicable, depending on the facts of each case.

United Kingdom Small Flag United Kingdom

Some intellectual property rights have criminal sanctions for infringement in certain contexts. The penalties vary from a fine to a term of imprisonment of up to 10 years.

In respect of copyright, an offence is committed if a person performs an infringing act for a commercial purpose knowing, or with reasonable belief, that the act would infringe the copyright. This includes making, dealing in, or possessing the infringing article, communicating the work to the public in the course of business, or publicly performing the work.

In respect of registered trade marks, criminal liability attaches to counterfeiting activity i.e. to a person who, with a view to gain for himself or another, or with intent to cause loss to another, and without the consent of the proprietor, sells or hires, for profit, goods bearing an identical mark or one that is likely to be mistaken for a registered mark. Importantly, the trade mark owner is not required to show that the infringer acted dishonestly. Where the offence relates to the making of an article specifically designed or adapted for making copies of a sign identical to, or likely to be mistaken for, a registered trade mark, or having such an article in his possession in the course of business, the owner is required to show that the infringer had knowledge that such articles would be used for producing goods bearing the mark.

With regard to registered design rights, it is an offence if the infringer, without the consent of the owner, intentionally copies a UK or Community registered design to make a product knowing or having reason to believe that the design was registered. It is also an offence to falsely represent a design, trade mark or patent as registered.

Complaints procedures also exist, through bodies such as trading standards, which are involved in the criminal enforcement of IP.

There are no criminal sanctions for patent infringement.

Pakistan Small Flag Pakistan

Yes, there are criminal sanctions for infringement of trade mark and copyright in the form of imprisonment or fine or both in different descriptions.

Criminal action can be invoked by lodging a complaint with the relevant enforcement agencies.

Ecuador Small Flag Ecuador

No.

United States Small Flag United States

Patent infringement in the U.S. is not punishable by criminal penalties. However, criminal penalties are available for trademark and copyright infringement as well as the theft of trade secrets in some circumstances. With respect to trademark infringement, the Federal Anti-Counterfeiting Criminal Statute provides that any person who intentionally traffics in goods or services and knowingly uses a counterfeit mark on or in connection with the goods or services can be liable for up to ten years of imprisonment and fines of up to $2M. See 18 U.S.C. § 2320. A second offense can raise these penalties to $5M and imprisonment of up to twenty years. Copyright infringement may be punished with up to five years of imprisonment for a first offense and up to ten years for a second offense and fines of up to $250,000. See 18 U.S.C. § 2319. In addition, the Federal Economic Espionage Act (18 U.S.C. § 1832) punishes theft of trade secrets with imprisonment of up to 10 years and the greater of $5M or three times the value of the stolen trade secret to the organization. To invoke this, the facts are provided to a prosecutor’s office that determines whether criminal proceedings are appropriate.

Malaysia Small Flag Malaysia

Trade marks:
Using a false trade description relating to trademark (Trade Descriptions Act 2011): The general penalty for body corporate is a maximum RM25,000 and for a second or subsequent offence, a maximum RM50,000. The general penalty for non-corporate body is a maximum RM10,000 or to imprisonment for a maximum 1 year, or both. For a second or subsequent offence, a maximum fine of RM20,000 or to imprisonment for a maximum 3 years or both.

Public Prosecutor initiates prosecution at its discretion.

Copyright:
Copyright infringement – a fine of not less than RM2,000 and not more than RM20,000 for each infringing copy, or to imprisonment for up to 5 years or to both and for any subsequent offence, to a fine of not less than RM4,000 and not more than RM40,000 for each infringing copy or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years or to both.

Philippines Small Flag Philippines

If an infringement over a patented product or process is repeated by the infringer or by anyone in connivance with him, he shall be criminally liable and, upon conviction, shall suffer imprisonment for the period of not less than six (6) months but not more than three (3) years and/or a fine of not less than One Hundred Thousand Philippine Pesos (P100,000.00) or approximately Two Thousand Two Hundred Twenty Two and 22/100 United States Dollars (US$2,222.22) but not more than Three Hundred Thousand Philippine Pesos (P300,000.00) or approximately Six Thousand Six Hundred Sixty Six and 67/100 United States Dollars (US$6,666.67), at the discretion of the court.

A criminal penalty of imprisonment from two (2) years to five (5) years and a fine ranging from Fifty Thousand Philippine Pesos (P50,000.00) [approximately One Thousand One Hundred Eleven and 11/100 United States Dollars (US$1,111.11)] to Two Hundred Thousand Philippine Pesos (P200,000.00) [approximately Four Thousand Four Hundred Forty Four and 44/100 United States Dollars (US$4,444.44)], shall be imposed on any person who is found guilty of committing any trademark infringement, unfair competition or false designation or representation.

The following are the criminal penalties for copyright infringement: (a) imprisonment of one (1) year to three (3) years plus a fine ranging from Fifty Thousand Philippine Pesos (P50,000.00) [approximately One Thousand One Hundred Eleven and 11/100 United States Dollars (US$1,111.11)] to One Hundred Fifty Thousand Philippine Pesos (P150,000.00) [approximately Three Thousand Three Hundred Thirty Three and 33/100 United States Dollars (US$3,333.33)] for the first offense; (b) imprisonment of three (3) years and one (1) day to six (6) years plus a fine ranging from One Hundred Fifty Thousand Philippine Pesos (P150,000.00) [approximately Three Thousand Three Hundred Thirty Three and 33/100 United States Dollars (US$3,333.33)] to Five Hundred Thousand Philippine Pesos (P500,000.00) [approximately Eleven Thousand One Hundred Eleven and 11/100 United States Dollars (US$11,111.11)] for the second offense; (c) Imprisonment of six (6) years and one (1) day to nine (9) years plus a fine ranging from Five Hundred Thousand Philippine Pesos (P500,000.00) [approximately Eleven Thousand One Hundred Eleven and 11/100 United States Dollars (US$11,111.11)] to One Million Five Hundred Thousand Philippine Pesos (P1,500,000.00) [approximately Twenty Two Thousand Two Hundred Twenty Two and 22/100 United States Dollars (US$22,222.22)] for the third and subsequent offenses; and (d) in all cases, subsidiary imprisonment in cases of insolvency. Any person who at the time when copyright subsists in a work has in his possession an article which he knows, or ought to know, to be an infringing copy of the work for the purpose of selling, letting for hire, or by way of trade offering or exposing for sale, or hire, the article; distributing the article for purpose of trade, or for any other purpose to an extent that will prejudice the rights of the copyright owner in the work; or trade exhibit of the article in public shall be liable for the same imprisonment and fine as an infringer.

Japan Small Flag Japan

Criminal penalties of imprisonment and/or fines are available for infringement upon each type of intellectual property rights when such infringements were committed deliberately. Basically, prosecutors have the authority to determine whether criminal procedures are appropriate. However, in the case of copyright infringement, it is necessary for the victim to file an accusation in order for prosecutors to institute a prosecution.

UAE Small Flag UAE

Yes there are criminal sanctions for infringement of intellectual property rights as follows:

RIGHTS

IMPRISONMENT

FINES

CLOSURE OF BUSINESS

CONFISCATION AND DESTRUCTION OF THE INFRINGING GOODS AND TOOLS USED TO COMMIT THE INFRINGEMENT

PUBLICATION OF THE JUDGMENT

Patent (national & GCC) and Utility Certificates

not less than 3 months and not more than 2 years

not less than AED 5,000 (USD 1,360) and no more than AED 100,000 (USD 27,250)

 

The Law is silent

YES

YES

Designs

Trade marks

not exceeding 1 year

not less than AED 5,000 (USD 1,360) and/or no more than AED 10,000 (USD 2,725)

not less than 15 days and no more than 6 months;

YES

 

YES

Copyrights & Neighbouring Rights

not less than 2 months

 

not less than AED 10,000 (USD 2,725), and not exceeding AED 500,000 (USD 136,240)

 

 

not more than 6 months

 

YES

 

YES

New Plant Varieties and Plant Breeders Rights

not less than 2 months

not less than AED 10,000 (USD 2,725) and not more than AED 250,000 (USD 68,120)

The law is silent

YES

YES

Mexico Small Flag Mexico

According to our Industrial Property and Criminal Law, the sanctions are: imprisonment ranging and/or fine.

These criminal sanctions may be invoked by means of a criminal complaint filed before The Anti-Counterfeiting Federal Prosecutor.

India Small Flag India

Yes, there are criminal sanctions for infringement in India in connection with trade mark, and copyright in India for acts amounting to falsification/infringement. Further, an infringer may also be liable for search and seizure of the infringing goods.

Further, the offences under the Trade Marks Act, 1999 and the Copyright Act, 1957, by virtue of the First Schedule table II of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, are cognizable offence and the registration of the trademark is not compulsory for initiation of criminal action.

An infringer hence may be liable for criminal actions under Sections 482(Punishment for using false property mark), Section 483 (Punishment for counterfeiting a property mark used by another), Section 486 (Punishment for selling goods marked with a counterfeit property mark) and Section 488 (Punishment for making use of any such false mark) of the Indian Penal Code, amongst others.

The Criminal remedies are invoked by filing a complaint before the Court of competent jurisdiction.

Sweden Small Flag Sweden

(a) Criminal sanctions
In accordance with applicable regulations, anyone who wilfully or with gross negligence infringes a patent, a trademark, a design, a tradename, a typography for semiconductor producs, a copy right or a plant breeders’ right, or attempts to do so, shall be sentenced to fines or imprisonment for not more than two years.

(b) How to invoke
Regarding patents, trademarks, designs, tradenames and typographies for semiconductor products, actions for infringement may be brought by the public prosecutor only if the injured party files a complaint and a prosecution is called for in the public interest.

Actions due to infringements regarding copyrights and plant breeders’ rights may be brought by the public prosecutor if the injured party files a complaint or a prosecution is called for in the public interest.

(c) Protection of trade secrets
If anyone wilfully or without authorisation accesses a trade secret, or attempts to do so, he or she shall be sentenced for trade espionage to fines or imprisonment for not more than two years. If the offense is grave the punishment shall be no more than six years.

Furthermore, anyone who obtains a trade secret knowing that the person who makes available the secret, or anyone before him, has accesses it through trade espionage shall be sentenced for unauthorised tempering with trade secret to fines or imprisonment for not more than two years. Is the offence grave, the punishment shall be not more than four years.

Latvia Small Flag Latvia

According to the Criminal Law of Latvia, Section 206. (Illegal Use of Trademarks, Other Distinguishing Marks and Designs) for a person who commits illegal using of a trademark, other distinguishing marks for goods or services or unauthorised using of a design, counterfeiting a mark or knowingly using or distributing a counterfeit mark, if it has been committed on a significant scale or it has caused substantial harm to the State, or to the interests of a person protected by the law, the applicable punishment is the deprivation of liberty for a period of up to two years or temporary deprivation of liberty, or community service, or a fine. If the criminal offence has been committed by a group of persons according to a prior agreement, the applicable punishment is the deprivation of liberty for a period of up to four years or temporary deprivation of liberty, or community service, or a fine. If the criminal offence has been committed in large scale or by an organised group the applicable punishment is deprivation of liberty for a period up to six years, with deprivation of the right to engage in specific employment for a period up to five years, with deprivation of the right to engage in entrepreneurial activity of a specific type or of all types or the right to take up a specific office, and with or without probationary supervision for a period up to three years. The investigation is made by police, prosecution by public prosecutors office, and court proceedings happen in criminal court.

There are no criminal sanctions for patent infringement in Latvia. Neither there are criminal sanctions for infringement of plants variety or semiconductor topography rights.

Copyright (including database rights) - For a person who commits infringement of copyright or neighbouring right, if such infringement has caused substantial harm to rights and interests protected by law of a person, the applicable punishment is the deprivation of liberty for a period of up to two years or temporary deprivation of liberty, or community service, or a fine. If the criminal offence has been committed by a group of persons according to a prior agreement, the applicable punishment is the deprivation of liberty for a period of up to four years or temporary deprivation of liberty, or community service, or a fine. For a person who commits infringement of copyright or neighbouring right if it is committed in large scale or by an organised group, or by compelling, by means of violence, threats or blackmail, the renouncing of authorship, or commits compelling of joint authorship, if it is committed by means of violence, threats or blackmail, the applicable punishment is deprivation of liberty for a period up to six years, with deprivation of the right to engage in specific employment for a period up to five years and with or without probationary supervision for a period up to three years. The investigation is made by police, prosecution by public prosecutors office, and court proceedings happen in criminal court.

Vietnam Small Flag Vietnam

Yes. Under the 2015 Penal Code as revised, only infringements of copyright, related rights, trademarks, geographical indications on a commercial scale committed by a natural person in a knowingly manner may be subject to criminal punishments under Section 225 and 226 respectively. For example, 2 types of acts of reproducing works, phonograms or video recordings and distributing the public copies of the same by Section 225(1) shall be imposed a fine of between fifty million and three hundred million dong or subject to non-custodial reform for up to three years if one of the minimum thresholds has been satisfied:

(a) on a commercial scale

(b) having gained illicit profit of between fifty million dong and below three hundred million dong

(c) having caused damage to the right holders from one hundred million dong to below five hundred million dong,

(d) infringing commodities valued a range of one hundred million dong to below five hundred million dong

In addition, the fact that Vietnam, as the first time and strikingly, introduced corporation criminal liability into the Penal Code gives rise to the new opportunity for right holders to be able to deter infringement, pirated copyright goods or counterfeit more efficiently when even a legal person (only for-profit company/entity/corporation/corporate) itself may be charged criminally by a fine of between three hundred million dong and one billion dong if the act made by the corporation falls into the circumstances described in Section 225(1) above provided that either of two prerequisites had occurred:

(a) Such corporation must have been already administratively sanctioned before; or

(b) Such corporation have already been charged for this crime but not yet entitled to criminal record remission and repeat the violation

Germany Small Flag Germany

Yes, there are:

An infringement of a patent right (Section 142(1) Patent Act), of an utility model (Section 25 Utility Model Act), of a topography right (Section 10(1) Semiconductor Protection Act) or communicating a trade or industrial secret without authorisation to a third party (Section 17(1) Act against unfair competition, § 203(1), (2) Criminal Code), an infringement of the trade mark right (Section 143(1) Trademark Act), an infringement of a registered design right (Section 51(1) Design Act), an infringement of the copyright (Sections 106 et seq. Copyright Act) and an infringement of the plant variety rights (Section 39(1) Act on the Protection of Plant Varieties) can result in imprisonment for up to three years or a fine, in case the infringement was committed deliberately.

Malta Small Flag Malta

Yes, criminal provisions for the infringement of IPRs exists in Malta. These are found either in the Criminal Code, or in specific titles within the Chapter of Law dedicated to a particular IPR.

Violation of Trade marks
The Maltese Criminal Code provides that the infringement of a trade mark in specific scenarios amounts to a criminal offence classified as industrial fraud. In the main, the acts which would qualify as a criminal offence include the forging or altering of names, marks and distinctive devices, or knowingly making use of same; using a mark calculated to deceive purchasers or sells goods bearing such a mark; putting on the market goods in respect of which a distinctive trade mark has been registered, after removing the trade mark without the consent of the owner thereof; knowingly making, keeping or transferring to any person, any die, block, machine or other instrument for the purpose of forging, or of being used for forging, a trade mark; distributing or importing for trade any goods bearing a fraudulent imitation of a mark.

Proceedings may be instituted by the Police ex officio, and on conviction, the accused may be found liable to imprisonment for a term from four months to one year.

Violation of Copyright
The Maltese Criminal Code also provides for the violation of copyright. The article provides against the printing, manufacture and distribution of any item in violation of copyright, and against having in one’s possession such an article with a view to carrying out said acts. The offence must be carried out by a person who commits the offence in the exercise of any trade or in the course of business, or with a view to gain or intention to cause. Proceedings are instituted by the Police on complaint of the injured party, and the accused may be found liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or to a fine (multa) of not less than three thousand Euro (€3,000) and not more than twenty-four thousand Euro (€24,000) or to both such fine and imprisonment.

Violation of Patents
The Patents and Designs Act itself contains provisions within it which create criminal offences. According to this Act, whoever puts into circulation, or sells any item falsely representing that it is a patented shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine (multa) of not less than two hundred and thirty-two Euro and ninety-four cent (€232.94) and not more than eleven thousand and six hundred and forty-six Euro and eighty-seven cent (€11,646.87).

Violation of Registered Designs
The Patents and Designs Act also provides for criminal offences related to registered design rights. According to the Act, any person who with a view to gain, or with intent to cause loss, and without the consent of the proprietor exploits a registered design may be found guilty of an offence and on conviction will be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three (3) years or to a fine (multa) of not more than twenty-three thousand and two hundred and ninety-three Euro and seventy-three cent (€23,293.73).

It is also an offence to make false entries onto the register of designs, and to put into circulation or distribute products falsely representing that a design is registered.
And finally it is also an offence to use in connection with any business any device or emblem that is calculated to lead others to believe that the person is employed by or supplies goods or services to the President of Malta.

Updated: August 3, 2018