Egypt has introduced a new customs system by virtue of the new Executive Regulation of the Egyptian Customs Law number 207/2020, hereinafter referred to “the Executive Regulation”. The new executive regulation was issued by the Ministry of Finance and published in the official gazette (issue 193 continued) on 31 August 2021. The Executive Regulation developed procedures for IPR protection which was not envisaged in its predecessor Executive Regulation No. 10/2006). The new Executive Regulation has set out new procedures in Articles from 2 to 13. These advanced procedures have been introduced to enhance Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) protection in Egypt and to prevent IPR infringement, criminal offences relating to IPR, and the remedies available to an IPR proprietor.
Primarily, the Customs Authority undertakes customs control duties, particularly in relation to the protection of intellectual property rights related to goods throughout the Egyptian territory. The Egyptian Customs Authority shall enforce all measures it deems necessary to secure and facilitate international trade. In parallel, the Regulation has expanded the role of the IPR holder in seizing the counterfeited products prior to their entry into the Egyptian market.
On one hand, the Customs Regulation grants powers to Customs Authorities to seize products which are found to infringe certain IP rights, including but not limited to, Trademarks, Patents, Copyrights, Geographical Indications, Industrial Designs, etc., on the contrary of its predecessor which did not explicitly set forth the extent to which the Customs Authority can undertake to enforce measures on the products that are found to infringe IP rights that previously led to failure of exercising Customs control over counterfeited products.
On the other hand the IPR holder or its legal representative is granted the right to file a complaint before the Department for the Protection of Intellectual Property Rights of the Customs Authority to prevent the release of goods that have not been released or are on their course to reach the Egyptian ports once the IPR holder or its representative submits a complaint along with a proof of infringement of an intellectual property right.
Not only did the new Regulation mitigate the procedures to deter the entry of the counterfeited products to Egypt, but also it has highlighted the significance of having an IP right duly protected i.e., through registration. Since the regulation has relied solely on filing a complaint to prevent the release of the counterfeited products following the provision of a proof of both the legal capacity and the infringement.
However, the Regulation was silent on the Customs Authority’s mechanism of detecting the counterfeited products upon their arrival to the Egyptian ports. Consequently, this promotes the importance of trusting an active legal representative with the company’s Intellectual Property rights; whereas an effective beneficial application of this Executive Regulation comes with constant monitoring with the Customs Authority and most substantially, ensuring the proper methods to protect the IP right have been implemented.
In summary, the basic principles of the newly issued Executive Regulation of Customs Law may remain the same in terms of the required grounds and mechanism for the Customs Authority to take ex officio actions to detain, seize and destroy counterfeited products upon their arrival at the Egyptian borders, it has also offered an effective interim measure against counterfeited products to an IPR proprietor instead of pursuing lengthy court proceedings to protect their IP right.