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Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions, literary and artistic works, designs, and symbols, and names and images used in commerce. IP can be protected by law by way of trademarks and copyright, once they take a tangible form.

More information about intellectual property can be found on the following webpages:

IP Rights at the border

Import provisions under the Acts, listed below, allow the Australian Border Force (ABF), under certain circumstances, to seize goods that infringe copyright, trademarks, protected Olympic expressions and indicia relating to major sporting events. These provisions give rise to Australia's Notice of Objection Scheme:

What is a Notice of Objection?

A Notice of Objection is a legal document that allows the ABF to seize imported goods that are suspected of infringing trademarks, copyright, Olympic insignia or indicia related to major sporting events that are the subject of the Notice of Objection.

Notices of Objection are lodged by IP owners (or in some cases authorised users) who are concerned about the potential damage to trade, reputation and profits that may result from the importation of goods that infringe their IP.  IP right owners with a Notice of Objection in place are commonly referred to as ‘objectors’.

A Notice of Objection must be accompanied by a Deed of Undertaking.  This is a formal undertaking by the objector agreeing to repay the ABF for the costs incurred resulting from any seizures made under the Notice of Objection (for example, transportation, storage and destruction costs). 

A Notice of Objection under the Trade Marks Act 1995, Copyright Act 1968 or Olympic Insignia Protection Act 1987 is valid for four years. A Notice of Objection under the Major Sporting Events (Indicia and Images) Protection Act 2014 is generally valid for one year or less, depending on the commencement of the clause.

Separate Notice of Objections are required to protect trademarks, copyright, protected Olympic expressions, or indicia for major sporting events. Notice of Objections can be re-lodged to ensure ongoing protection, or withdrawn at any time if no longer required.
Relevant guides and forms to lodge a Notice of Objection are available at the end of this web page.

See our list of companies with a current Notice of Objection in place.

When are goods seized under the Notice of Objection Scheme?

The ABF can only seize goods that:

  • are subject to customs control
  • are covered by a valid Notice of Objection
  • appear to infringe IP rights and
  • are intended for commercial purposes.

What happens when goods are seized by the ABF?

When goods are seized the importer and the rights owner (objector) will be notified in writing. If the importer wishes to make a claim for the release of seized goods, they must do so within ten working days of notification. This is called the 'Claim Period'.

If a claim for release is made by the importer, the objector will be notified and will have ten working days to:

  • commence legal action, or
  • consent to the release of the goods to the importer.

This is called the 'Action Period'.

The importer can voluntarily forfeit the goods at any time before legal action has commenced.

If the objector does not commence legal action within the 'Action Period' and the goods have not been forfeited by the importer, the ABF will release the goods to the importer subject to all other legislative requirements being met. The ABF does not make the final decision on whether goods are infringing IP.  The formal determination of IP rights infringement can only be made through the judicial process.

If legal action is taken, the court will make an order to either:

  • release the goods to the importer, or
  • forfeit them to the Commonwealth.

If the goods are forfeited, the ABF will dispose of them as directed by the relevant delegate, usually by destruction.

Got a tip?

We encourage trademark, copyright, Olympic insignia and indicia for major sporting events rights owners and the public to provide information that will assist the ABF to identify and intercept suspected infringing goods. Complete the form below and send to iprights@border.gov.au:

Further information

For further information regarding the Notice of Objection Scheme, contact the Intellectual Property Rights team by email: iprights@border.gov.au.

Guides

Forms