14 maj 2020
The Rolex case
Chinese webshop had infringed Rolex' rights by selling a counterfeit Rolex watch to a Danish consumer. The consumer had to recognise that seizure and destruction of the watch was lawful.
Case no. 361/2011
Judgment delivered on 15 May 2014
Manufacture des Montres Rolex S.A.
In 2010, a Danish consumer bought a counterfeit Rolex watch from the website of a Chinese webshop. The watch was seized by the Danish customs authorities, and the case concerned whether the consumer had to recognise that seizure of the watch was lawful, and that the watch could be destroyed without compensation.
The original Rolex watch is protected by copyright and by Rolex' trade mark rights. It had not been contested in the case that the consumer had bought the counterfeit Rolex watch for private use, and that he had not infringed Rolex' copyright or trade mark rights. The issue was then whether the Chinese webshop had infringed Rolex' copyright and trade mark rights in Denmark, which would justify seizure and destruction of the watch in accordance with the provisions of the Customs Regulation.
In connection with the hearing on 4 September 2012, the Supreme Court decided to refer a question for a preliminary ruling to the EU Court of Justice on the interpretation of the Customs Code and the EU trade mark and copyright legislation.
In line with the Court of Justice's reply in its judgment of 6 February 2014 to the questions referred for a preliminary ruling, the Supreme Court held that when the counterfeit Rolex watch entered Danish territory, Rolex as the copyright and trade mark holder enjoyed the protection afforded by the Customs Regulation. Accordingly, the Chinese webshop had infringed Rolex' copyright and trade mark rights in Denmark, and hence seizure of the watch was lawful, and the watch could be destroyed without compensation to the consumer.
The Maritime and Commercial Court had come to the same conclusion.