What is the law on counterfeited goods?


Counterfeit goods are any products that have been produced by a company without the permission of the copyright or trademark holder.

Common counterfeits include DVDs, watches, fake designer goods, and toys. Fake goods such as these are often of inferior build quality and can be highly dangerous. Counterfeit toys and fireworks should be avoided at all costs.

For background information, visit our intellectual property law pages.


The main pieces of legislation that relate to counterfeit goods are the Trade Marks Act of 1938, the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 and the Trades Descriptions Act 1968. Together these laws protect the rights of manufacturers to defend their intellectual property and the integrity of their products.

As a general rule, any creative product or identifying mark is protected by the law and cannot be used without express permission. In order to offer further protection, the law very often states that the permission has to be given in writing.


Retailers must comply with the Trades Descriptions Act 1968 that states that they should sell goods that will perform as expected, or in the context of copyright law, are genuine goods. Should they accidentally sell counterfeited goods, they are obliged to offer their customers a refund.

Any doubts you have about any item’s authenticity should be reported to the retailer where you brought the item. You can also contact your local Office of Fair Trading, as it is their job to police the sale of counterfeit goods in your area.


If counterfeiters are not brought to justice there can be serious consequences. In the short term, poorly manufactured products reach the marketplace, potentially causing danger to consumers, especially children.

In the long term, widespread counterfeiting damages the economy by making it harder for manufacturers to make a profit on their products. Consequently the penalties for breaking the law can be severe.

In addition to facing a civil lawsuit, counterfeiters can be criminally prosecuted if they have gained commercially from their work. If convicted, they face heavy fines and even imprisonment. In some circumstances even people buying counterfeit goods can be prosecuted.

If you require further legal advice regarding the law on counterfeited goods, use us to contact an intellectual property solicitor.

To obtain legal advice on counterfeit goods, Contact Law can put you in touch with a local specialist solicitor free of charge. Please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above to speak to an advisor.

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