Uzbek customs authorities have been granted ex-officio powers to combat counterfeiting

In light of the adoption of the new Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan No. ZRU-913 dated February 27, 2024, aimed at further improving customs procedures, which will come into effect on May 28, 2024, some key changes and additions have been reflected in Customs Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

These changes are directed towards a deeper refinement of customs procedures, with a special emphasis on the protection of IP rights, marking a significant step in strengthening the legal framework of the country in the area of customs regulation and combating the circulation of counterfeit products.

Main changes include:

  1. Customs authorities are granted "ex-officio" powers, meaning they can independently (without a claim from the rightholder) suspend the import of goods that show signs of IP rights infringement;
  2. The list of necessary information for a rightholder (or their representative) to submit a claim regarding the import of goods is significantly reduced. Now, it is sufficient to provide information about the importer, exporter, or consignee;
  3. In the event of a suspension of goods import by customs authorities, the rightholder (or their representative) must provide a written commitment to compensate for the material damage to the declarant and importer, accompanied by a document confirming the payment into a special account in the amount of approximately $2,750 (this amount may change in case of a change in the rate of the Basic Calculation Unit in Uzbekistan).

More details on the changes below:

One of the main aspects of these changes is the expansion of customs authorities' powers in protecting IP rights. Specifically, a procedure is introduced whereby customs authorities, upon identifying signs of infringement of IP rights registered in the Customs Register, are required to notify the rightholder or their representative within one working day. This allows rightholders to timely respond to potential infringements and take appropriate measures to protect their rights.

Furthermore, customs authorities are given the ability to independently (without a prior claim from the rightholder) suspend the release of goods containing IP objects if there is a potential risk of rights infringement for a period of up to 10 working days, with the possibility of extending this period for another 10 working days upon the rightholder's request. This innovation essentially provides customs authorities with "ex-officio" powers, meaning the ability for customs authorities to act on their own initiative, without a prior requirement or claim from the rightholder.

In the event of a suspension of such goods' release, customs authorities are required to notify not only the rightholder but also the declarant, ensuring that both parties have the opportunity to take necessary actions.

Also significant is the introduction of procedures and requirements for the actions of rightholders in the event of a suspension of goods' release, including obligations to compensate for possible damage from such suspension, aimed at preventing abuses and ensuring a fair balance of interests of all participants in the process.

Interaction with customs authorities is also simplified through the introduction of electronic document management, significantly increasing the efficiency and speed of processing claims and other documents related to the protection of IP rights.

The introduction of these innovations into the Customs Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan represents a long-awaited and very significant step towards strengthening the rights and guarantees of rightholders in the field of customs regulation. Particularly noteworthy is the granting of ex-officio powers to customs authorities, reflecting the progressive development and adaptation of national legislation to international standards in the field of IP protection.

 

Author: SETTLE administration

Date of publicatin: April 8, 2024