Customs tightening the screws from 1 July.
Bringing a fake Vuitton bag or counterfeit luxury watch back from on holiday will be prohibited in Switzerland from 1 July. As of Tuesday, customs will be able to seize disputed goods. Internet orders are also being targeted.
"The consequences of the phenomenon are by no means harmless. We are all concerned by counterfeiting and piracy", Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf stressed on Thursday.
The Justice Minister highlighted the risks associated with fakes, which related not only to the products of major brands but also to pharmaceuticals, food products, CDs, electronic chips, or spare parts for vehicles and aircraft. Those infringements of intellectual property threaten the health and safety of consumers, in addition to encouraging organised crime, she warned.
She also cited a 2007 OCDE report according to which fakes yielded proceeds of 200 billion dollars across the world. According to the French authorities, that parallel market generated a turnover comparable to that of the drugs trade. Switzerland was not spared, as was proved by the rise in the number of operations carried out in recent years.
The stricter measures that will come into force with the Summer holidays include a ban on private imports. Felix Addor explained that the aim is to prevent the spread of fakes, and not to criminalise travellers or individuals who receive items by post.
The acting Director of the Intellectual Property Institute (IPI) made it clear that there is thus no punishment contemplated for individuals, but an illegal item may be confiscated and destroyed. Despite the tightened regulation, Switzerland is therefore still less strict than its neighbours, France in particular, who can impose fines of up to 300,000 euros and several years in prison.
The bill will be much stiffer, however, for those individuals who act professionally. The maximum prison term was raised from three to five years. Sellers of fakes also risk fines of over a million francs.
An awareness campaign has been started: distribution of fliers to travellers, posters at border posts, and information at airports, at travel agencies, in specialist magazines, and on the Internet.