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Customs Seizure Enforcement

We at Minato Mirai Patent Firm focus on not only the acquisition of intellectual property rights, but also on countermeasures against the infringement of such rights once acquired.
Below we give an introduction to one such measure, namely, seizure of counterfeit, which is operated by the Japanese customs authorities and is likely to produce results more quickly than other measures.

Although seizure of counterfeit operated by the Japanese customs authorities is more complex than that of other countries in some aspects―including the documents required to be submitted at the time of the initial application―it has a huge advantage in that the Japanese customs authorities deal with infringing goods in a consistent manner, including their final disposal, once an application has been accepted.

Please feel free to contact us if you are interested in filing a customs seizure application with the Japanese customs.


What is Customs Seizure Enforcement?

Customs seizure enforcement operates as follows. Holders of intellectual property rights―including patent rights, utility model rights, design rights, trademark rights, copyright, etc.―file an application with the Director-General of the Customs to request to seize imported goods which are suspected to infringe the rights. The application is accepted, the Japanese customs seizes the infringing goods at borders.


  • Infringing imported goods can be seized before their distribution in Japan.
  • The system is likely to produce results quickly.
  • If the application is accepted, infringing imported goods may be seized across Japan.

Procedures for Customs Seizure Application  >>


Seizure Procedures

Freight that is suspected to fall under the category of goods infringing intellectual property rights is referred to as “suspected infringing goods.” In identification procedures, the customs authorities make the decision as to whether suspected infringing goods fall under the category of infringing goods.
Any freight that is decided to be infringing goods as a result of identification procedures will be confiscated.

Procedures after acceptance of the application  >>

Customs Seizure

Actual Number of Import Seizures by Type of Intellectual Property Rights
  • Note 1: “No. of cases” and “No. of items” represent the numbers of cases and items, respectively, of general imported freight and imported postal items that contain infringing goods.
  • Note 2: The sum of the percentages in each column may not add up to 100% due to rounding.
  • Note 3: In cases where a single case involved the infringement of multiple intellectual property rights, while such infringement is counted as one case for each type of intellectual property right being infringed, the number of items in such infringement is only included in the type of intellectual property right located in the highest row in the table among the applicable types. Therefore, the sum of the number of cases of all types of intellectual property rights does not equal the number of cases in the “Total” column.
(Japanese language only, excerpted)

Customs seizure application based on trademark rights is advantageous because the identification of infringement of trademark rights is objective and easy to understand.
If you wish to file a customes seizure application, we recommend that you obtain trademark rights in Japan at first.

Find information on acquiring trademark rights here  >>



The following five conditions need to be fulfilled in order to file a customs seizure application.

The applicant is the right holder.

→ You may appoint agents (such as lawyers and patent attorneys) to carry out the procedures to file a customs seizure application.

The relevant right is valid.

→ You may not file a customs seizure application based on trademark or other rights that have been applied for but have not yet been granted.

The relevant right is being or at risk of being infringed.

→ This includes cases where infringing goods are being imported into Japan, as well as cases where such importation is expected.

The facts of the infringement can be confirmed.

→ Infringing goods or brochures, pictures, etc. thereof are required.

The infringement can be identified by the customs authorities.

→ You need to provide information that enables the customs authorities to distinguish genuine products from infringing goods.


Customs Seizure


Procedures for Customs Seizure Application

Customs STEP1
If this is the first time, he/she can consult with customs officers before submission.
Receipt of application STEP2
Preparation of Application
The applicant prepares an application and submits it to customs.
Review STEP3
The content of the application is reviewed.
The applicant may need to explain to customs officers regarding the content of the application.
Accepted_Not accepted  
Announcement on customs website STEP4
If the application is accepted, that acceptance is announced on the customs website, and customs begins the actual enforcement of the application.。
Customs begins to enforce at border  


Procedures after acceptance of the application

Customs seizure application  
Detection of suspected infringing freight STEP1
Customs officers detect freight that is suspected to contain infringing goods.
Commencement of identification procedures STEP2
Customs issue a notification of the initiation of identification procedures.
If the importer does not express an intention to file an objection, the right holder does not need to submit any documents.
If the importer files an objection, the right holder will submit an opinion, etc.
Confiscation_Import permission STEP3
If, as a result of the above procedures, it is decided that the freight contains infringing goods, it is confiscated.
If it is decided that the freight is non-infringing, its import is permitted.


Customs Seizure