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Customs department asks Dell India to pay charges to importers
April, 10th 2012

The Customs Department has asked Dell India to pay demurrage and warehousing charges to importers, whose consignments were suspended for clearance after the firm claimed that the imported goods with 'Dell' trademark are infringement of intellectual property rights.

A Dell spokesperson confirmed the company receiving the order and said it is "studying the same to determine next steps".

Commissioner of the Customs, Mumbai last month directed Dell India to compensate the three importers by paying demurrage and warehousing charges.

The Customs department had found that around 500 Dell laptops imported by - Venktron Digital Systems, Sapphire Micro Systems and Momentum Technologies - from China were "genuine and were not prohibited" under the law.

It further said consignment was held for two months "due to the deliberate insistence of infringement of IPR (Intellectual Property Rights)" by Dell India and the importers "has suffered heavy financial losses".

Dell had opposed the import of the laptops claiming that it would amount to infringement of its IPR.

Stating that the goods imported in these cases do not infringe IPR of Dell India, the Department in the March 29 order said "the demurrage and warehousing charges on these goods are to be recovered from Dell India by enforcing the Centralised Bank Guarantee furnished by Dell India to the extent needed for the purpose and paid to the custodian."

It further said if the importer pays such demurrage to facilitate speedy clearance of goods, the amount should be reimbursed by enforcing the security given by Dell India.

The Department was of the opinion that the shipments were held up for almost two months due to Dell India's "deliberate insistence" that IPR was infringed.

"The importers have suffered heavy financial loss and mental agony...a decision will have to be taken on their compensation," the order said.

The importers, in their plea, had said the private commercial arrangement between Dell India and Dell USA could not prevent them, who are not parties to such contract, from importing genuine unaltered goods, which they were permitted to import under Section 30 (3) of the Trademarks Act, 1999.

"The Trademarks Act could not be used by Dell India as a means to sell to purchasing public in India to buy the products at substantially inflated prices," they added.

They further contended that since the goods were found to be genuine, they were not infringing goods in any manner.

Dell, on the other hand, said the consignments were goods infringing the IPR, hence amounting to prohibited goods. The Dell spokesperson said, "We reiterate our legal stand that import of Dell products into India, that have the Dell mark affixed validly in the country of manufacture but is only meant for sale in that country, is an infringement of the Dell mark registered in India. The order has ignored this settled legal position."

The spokesperson added that unauthorised imports, which misguides or misrepresents customers with products brought in from other countries and not adequately supported by warranties, cause serious inconveniences and losses to its customers and endangers its brand reputation.

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