GENEVA, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- People arriving in Switzerland wearing fake watches could have their illicit goods snatched away under new customs powers that come into force from July 1, the local Swissinfo website reported on Monday.
For the first time, Swiss border officials will be able to confiscate counterfeit products intended for personal use, in addition to existing powers to seize items smuggled into the country for resale, according to the report.
The recent amendment to the Swiss patent protection laws closed a loophole that allowed individuals to enter the country with fake goods they had bought for themselves.
Similar laws exist in Italy and France, but Switzerland will stop short of trying to prosecute people as it would be too difficult to prove that they had knowingly bought illegal goods.
The illegal counterfeit market costs the Swiss economy an estimated 1.79 billion U.S. dollars a year and the watch making industry alone some 718 million U.S. dollars.
The Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry is currently working closely with customs officials to train officers to spot counterfeit watches. It also has a specialist team that can analyze suspect items in detail to determine whether they are fakes or not.
Targeting individuals with fakes at the Swiss borders would not stop the counterfeit market in its tracks but will be another important step toward protecting the integrity of the official industry, according to the federation.