Legal framework and terminology


Here you can read about the various types of intellectual property rights and find links to the most relevant provisions in relation to counterfeiting and piracy.

Copyright includes literary and artistic works, e.g. music, texts and drawings. Software is also copyright-protected. If considered an original work, industrial designs may also be protected by copyright.

Copyright arises through the creation of an original work and cannot be registered in Denmark. Copyright exists for 70 years after the demise of the creator.

Read more about copyright in our FAQ or on the website of the Ministry of Culture.

The purpose of a trademark is to distinguish the products of an enterprise - or the enterprise itself - from those of other enterprises. Trademarks may consist of words, logos, slogans, letter and number combinations, but may also consist in the shape of the goods themselves or their packaging - e.g. a perfume bottle.

A trademark right in Denmark can be obtained by:

  • putting the mark to use in Denmark
  • filing for a Danish national registration
  • filing for a Community Trademark registration (CTM).

The advantages of registration instead of mere use include an easier means of documenting your rights. A trademark is valid for 10 years and may be renewed for 10 years at a time. In principle, a trademark may thus last eternally.

For more information about trademarks, see the website of the Danish Patent and Trademark Office.

Protection of a design pertains to the appearance of the product or a part of the product, e.g. clothes, furniture or the pattern on tissue paper.

Design protection is obtained in Denmark by:

  • putting the design to use in the EU
  • filing for a Danish national registration
  • filing for the registration of a Community Design.

It applies to both the national and the Community design that they are valid for 5 years and may be renewed 4 times - i.e. for a maximum length of protection for 25 years. The unregistered design right is valid for 3 years starting from the publication of the design and this period is not extendable.

More information on designs is available at the website of the Danish Patent and Trademark Office.

A patent is the protection of a technical solution – not the idea as such. For example, patent protection cannot be given to the idea of making wind shield wipers which do not leave streaks. However, patent protection may be awarded to the technical solution which solves the problem of streaks from wind shield wipers.

Patent protection is obtained in Denmark by:

  • applying for and receiving a Danish patent
  • applying for and receiving a patent in Europe (EPO)
  • applying for an international patent and seeking national protection in Denmark (PCT).

The protection of a patent lasts for up to 20 years starting from the date of the application.

Find more information about patents on the website of the Danish Patent and Trademark Office.

The protection of utility models is similar to that of patents, but the purpose of utility model protection is to serve the need for protection of smaller enterprises and of technical inventions which do not quite meet the criteria for patent protection. Utility models are particularly common in relation to agricultural instruments, furniture construction and household articles.

Utility model rights are obtained in Denmark by:

  • filing a Danish national application directly
  • filing an application in Denmark based on an international application.

A utility model registration is valid for 3 years from the date of application and may be renewed for a further 2 periods of 3 and 4 years respectively. The maximum length of protection for a utility model is thus 10 years.

Find more information about utility models on the website of the Danish Patent and trademark Office.

A geographical indication (GI) is a designation used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities, reputation or characteristics that are essentially attributable to that origin. The origin can be a locality, region or possibly a country. The production of GI products is subject to certification requirements.

GI's can have great commercial value and can be exposed to infringement/counterfeiting and are therefore protected.

For more information on the four EU Regulations, see the website of the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration.

Under certain conditions geographical indications can also be registered as collective marks pursuant to the Act on collective marks. For further information on this subject see the website of the Danish Patent and Trademark Office.

The manufacturing and sale of unauthorized smart cards and cardsharing that gives illegal access to coded television signals is a criminal offense. The ban also applies to personal use of such equipment.

Smart cards and card sharing / Illegal access to TV channels

The law on Radio and Television Operations protects providers of coded radio or television signals against equipment that can provide free access to such payment-based services. Providers of on-demand services are included and thus protected by the law.

The law states that it is illegal to manufacture, import, convert, possess or modify decoders or other decoding equipment if the purpose is to allow unauthorized access to the content of a coded radio or television program. Advertising or similar of such equipment is also not permitted. The prohibition thus applies to both activities that make decoding equipment illegally available to the users, but also the user's actual unauthorized use of such devices.

The regulation will typically affect the use of unauthorized decoding equipment such as unauthorized smart cards that gives illegal access to pay television. But also receiving an encryption code through card sharing services falls under the regulation.

  • Did you know?

    The Danish version of this website contains a case law database on criminal convictions in IPR cases.

    Read more

  • Did you know?

    If you trade counterfeit goods commercially, you may be fined or imprisoned for up to 1 year and 6 months. The penalty can increase to 6 years of imprisonment for particularly serious violations.

    Read more


On this website, we use the terms ”counterfeiting and piracy” about trademarks or products that are too close copies of other businesses’ trademarks or products and that therefore infringe the rights of those businesses. Such right can e.g. be trademarks, designs, patents or copyrights. These type of rights are also called intellectual property rights or in short just IPR or IP-rights.

Intellectual property rights help promote innovation and creativity in society. This is because the person or business who creates art, paintings, music, literature, inventions, designs, logos, etc. can obtain an exclusive right for it. The exclusive right allows right holders to make money from their creations. An inventor can e.g. choose to sell his/her invention to a large business. The exclusive right prevents others from exploiting or stealing the idea without the right holder's permission. The exclusive right lasts for a certain period and can be considered a reward for the creative effort.

The exclusive rights are statutory in several laws, for example the Copyright Act, the Trade Marks Act, the Design Act, the Patent Act, etc. You will find an overview of the laws here.

These laws offer different types of protection. A product may well be protected by several types of intellectual property rights at the same time.

For example, pharmaceuticals are a product type that is often protected by several types of intellectual property rights. The drug itself can be protected by a patent; either covering a particular method of manufacturing the drug, the active ingredient itself or the use of the drug. The design of the tablets may be design-protected. In addition, the name of the drug - and the name of the business behind - it can be protected with trademarks. Also, the accompanying instruction for use of the drugs will typically be protected by copyright.

Parallel imports

Counterfeit and pirated products are sometimes confused with parallel imports, but the terms are not identical.

Parallel import means, in short, that the dealer buys genuine goods in another country and imports them into Denmark. Depending on from where to where the parallel import happens, it may be fully legal. Legal parallel imports can often benefit consumers in the form of lower prices. The ‘Normal’ chain store is an example of a parallel importing business.

Parallel import is based on the principle of consumption. Original goods, which have been brought on the market legally, may normally be resold without the permission of the rights owner. In other words, the rights of the rights holder are exhausted (consumed) through the original sale.

When a product is sold in a country within the EU/EEA, it may be freely sold in the entire EEA, which consists of the countries in the European Union together with Iceland, Norway and Lichtenstein. If the product has not been sold in the EEA, it may not be sold in the EU without permission from the rights holder. If so, it is a case of illegal parallel import.

  • Did you know?

    By registering your business’ IP rights, you can make it easier to prevent others from copying your business’ products and inventions.

    Read more

  • Did you know?

    You can get information and guidance on fighting counterfeiting and piracy by contacting Hotline on Enforcement and Counterfeiting at the Patent and Trademark Office

    Read more


The sanctions in case of IPR violation include among other things:


PR infringers can be sentenced by the courts to pay damages. In general, damages are calculated based on the loss suffered by the infringed party, but may also include compensation for the unlawful use. Finally, damages may also cover non-financial damage.

Fines and imprisonment

A convicted IPR criminal may also be ordered to pay a fine or sentenced to prison. The sanctions for violating copyright law, trademark law, design law, patent law or utility model law can be an 18-month prison sentence, if the circumstances are aggravating. Severe violations are punishable by prison terms up to 6 years. This presupposes that the violation was intentional. Fines may be given in cases of gross negligence.


Goods that are deemed counterfeited and pirated shall generally be destroyed.


What is the maximum prison penalty for trading counterfeit goods commercially?