Last updated: 
4 March 2016

Under the Trade Marks Act 1995, the Copyright Act 1968 and the Plant Breeder’s Rights Act 1994, counterfeiting and piracy constitute criminal offences.

Criminal liability

Trade marks

Under the Trade Marks Act 1995 it is an offence to:

  • falsify a registered trade mark
  • falsely apply a registered trade mark
  • alter or remove a trade mark, knowing it is a registered trade mark
  • make a die, block, machine or instrument that can help in falsifying or removing a trade mark
  • sell, possess, distribute or import a good, knowing that the trade mark has been falsified or removed.

Penalties include up to five years imprisonment and fines of up to $99 000.


Under the Copyright Act 1968 it is an offence to:

  • knowingly import, possess, sell, distribute or commercially deal with an infringing copy
  • offer for sale infringing copies of computer programs
  • transmit a computer program to enable it to be copied when received.

Penalties include fines of up to $117 000 for individuals and up to $585 000 for corporations. The possible term of imprisonment is up to five years.

Plant breeder’s rights

Under the Plant Breeder’s Rights Act 1994 it is an offence to:

  • make a false statement in an application or other official document
  • falsely claim ownership of a plant breeder’s right (PBR)
  • falsely claim a PBR extends to cover another plant variety that isn’t a dependant variety or essentially derived from their variety
  • falsely claim a plant variety has been granted PBR protection.

Penalties include up to six months imprisonment and fines of up to $10 800.