You can read about the legal consequences of owning or buying counterfeit products here.
In general, trading in counterfeit products is punishable by law. Sellers and buyers are equally affected. Nevertheless, many consumers do not even develop a sense of injustice when purchasing counterfeit products.
Purchase or possession of counterfeits abroad
In most cases, the buyer of counterfeit products is liable to prosecution. The extent to which this is legally prosecuted depends on the legal regulations of the individual countries.
In Italy, for example, the buyer of counterfeits is punished just as severely as the counterfeiter himself. Fines in the five-digit range and prison sentences of up to five years are possible here.
In France, even possession of a counterfeit is punishable and carries a prison sentence of three years. In Austria, fines of up to 15,000 euros can be imposed.
Importing counterfeits into Germany?
Anyone who imports a counterfeit into Germany as a souvenir from abroad must expect criminal consequences if the value of the imported counterfeit exceeds 175 euros or if there is suspicion of commercial trading. This is regulated in the Entry Clearance Ordinance. Customs has the right to seize the goods, demand import VAT in the value of the original product and, if necessary, also impose a fine.
The consumer may face further consequences if the owner of the property right, e.g. the brand manufacturer, seeks legal action for damages.
Counterfeit pharmaceutical preparations
Particular caution is required when it comes to medicines. Anyone who imports drugs that are not approved for the German market is liable to prosecution.
For private individuals who buy these pharmaceutical preparations only for their own use, the legal situation is not entirely clear. Unapproved medicines may not be placed on the market, so importation is prohibited. However, whether and to what extent criminal prosecution applies to private individuals depends on the individual case. Sometimes it is sufficient to dispose of the drug at customs and thus forego the import. In case of doubt, a lawyer experienced in trademark law should be consulted about possible consequences for private individuals before making the purchase, if it is to be made in any case.
The consequences for the buyer of counterfeit cigarettes are clearly regulated. Anyone who purchases counterfeit tobacco products - even just for their own use - is automatically guilty of tax evasion. In the case of importation, in addition to a fine, the subsequent payment of the import sales tax is also demanded in any case. The financial damage to the consumer is disproportionate to the savings made by purchasing the counterfeit product.
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