Importing counterfeits from China - what are the risks and what are they?

Update date:
15 Jun 2024
Date of publication:
15 Jun 2024
Reading time: 3 minutes

Table of contents:

The cost of counterfeit products from China often carries a lot of risk and unpleasant consequences. When importing the goods in question from China, it is necessary for the cargo to pass customs clearance, during which, if the officials select the goods for customs examination and it turns out that there is a chance of counterfeit goods, the service will inform the manufacturer's representative of the matter, who will check whether the products are genuine. If it is a small quantity of goods, it is likely that the manufacturer will not draw legal consequences and the goods will go for disposal, for which we will have to pay. In the case of larger imports, this may significantly jeopardise the interests of the manufacturer, who will certainly want to draw legal consequences, e.g. by filing a lawsuit. 

The counterfeit market and imports from China

The counterfeit market in the Middle Kingdom is huge and Chinese factories offer products from well-known brands at very attractive prices. Chinese regulations are not strict enough to prohibit the sale of Chinese counterfeit products, especially as counterfeiting of major Western brands such as Apple is a common occurrence. China undoubtedly has little interest in ending this practice. 

Infringement of intellectual property rights

There are situations in which a consumer purchases a product (e.g. on aliexpress) that is proprietary and the intellectual property belongs to a particular company. With one or more pieces of the ordered product, if the package passes inspection, we will be charged with the cost of disposal by the relevant authorities. The cost can range from a few dozen to as much as EUR 200. Protecting intellectual property in Europe is an important issue to be aware of. 

Need for licensing and manufacturer's approval

There are many products on the Chinese market with registered trademarks - these could be accessories and gadgets related to fairy tale or movie characters mugs, clothes, pens, toys, etc. However, in order to legally market such products, a licence is required from the manufacturer to produce the goods in question with a registered design, character, or logo belonging to the manufacturer. Examples include remote-controlled cars with logos of brands such as Mercedes, Audi or Porshe. In order to import these types of products with logos from China, we must ask the dealer for a licence from the manufacturer with permission to manufacture products with their logo. 

What then is legal to import from China?

There is a huge range of products that can be imported into the Chinese market. In practically every product category, you will find products worthy of attention. You can also consider branding Chinese products with your own logo - this practice is extremely popular among European importers. We have done a separate article on products worth selling - link here. If you are also looking for sea, rail or air transport from China then write to us!

In summary, imports from China with the logos of well-known manufacturers require careful checking and verification of the licence from the manufacturer. Often, the attractive price of products and the spectre of a quick profit are not worth the legal consequences of importing branded counterfeit goods. 

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