Enforcement

Protecting Intellectual Property Rights: Customs authorities detain nearly 36 million fake goods at EU borders in 2013

Every year, the European Commission publishes a report describing the customs detention of articles suspected of infringing intellectual property rights. Last month the European Commission published the report on the activities of 2013, concluding that there was a small decrease in the number of shipments suspected of violating intellectual property rights, but still almost 87,000 detention cases were registered.

Concerning the types of articles detained, clothing is at the top of the list.

For further information, please click here. The report is available here.

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European IPR Helpdesk Bulletin issue (14)

This summer issue of the European IPR Helpdesk Bulletin firstly presents an easy-to-use map of different free-of-charge initiatives available to assist SMEs with intellectual property related matters. Thinking on the growing relevance of designs in business, the Bulletin features an article on industrial design protection in the EU and the use of its grace period. An interview with a European agro/food biotech company underlines the relevance of IP in the biotechnology sector.

Regarding the research sector, this issue offers an interesting article on the DESCA 2020, a model consortium agreement tailored to be used in Horizon 2020. Two pieces featured by OHIM show the importance of IP enforcement via the outcomes of the first International IP Enforcement Summit and how the OHIM Academy plays a role in helping stakeholders throughout the EU.

The Innovaccess IP cost tool, a free-of-charge tool allowing the calculation of the costs related to different IP titles, the patent quiz and the Information Package on IP in Horizon 2020 complete this substantial fourteenth Bulletin issue.

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70 000 counterfeit goods seized in EU joint customs operation

Over 70 000 counterfeit goods were seized during a major Joint Customs Operation (JCO) code-named “ERMIS”. JCO ERMIS was carried-out by the Greek Customs Administration and the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), and also involved customs experts from the Commission, Member States, FYROM, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey.

Algirdas Šemeta, Commissioner responsible for Customs and Anti-Fraud, said: "The ERMIS Operation shows, once again, the major added-value of working together to combat common risks. Counterfeit products put our consumers at risk and our businesses at a disadvantage. Strong cooperation, efficient information exchange and effective targeted actions, involving all enforcement authorities, is essential to tackle those who smuggle fakes. This Operation did just that, and the outcome shows the great results this yields."

For more information, please click here.

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Commission presents actions to better protect and enforce intellectual property rights

The European Commission has adopted two communications – an Action Plan to address infringements of intellectual property rights in the EU and a Strategy for the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR) in third countries.

Infringements of IPR are a matter of high relevance to the EU, given the fact that they harm business and the market. According to OECD data, the annual loss from IPR infringements to the world economy is around €200 billion. In 2012 alone, EU border control agencies registered 90,000 cases of goods suspected of infringing intellectual property rights (compared to fewer than 27,000 in 2005).

The Action Plan sets out a number of actions to focus the EU's IPR enforcement policy on commercial scale infringements (the so-called 'follow the money' approach). According to the Commission, it foresees in particular:

  • engaging in a dialogue with stakeholders (e.g. online advertising agencies and payment service providers) to reduce profits from commercial-scale infringements on the internet;
  • promoting due-diligence among all actors involved in production of goods with a high degree of intellectual property, since responsible supply chain auditing and application of due diligence reduces the risk of IP infringements;
  • helping small businesses to enforce their intellectual property rights more effectively by improving court procedures; to achieve this, the Commission will look for the first time at national schemes directly assisting SMEs in accessing justice systems;
  • improving cooperation between Member States and facilitating exchanges of best practices;
  • providing a comprehensive training programme for Member State authorities with a view to achieving faster preventive actions against commercial scale IP-infringing activities across the EU and identification of barriers to cross-border cooperation.

For further information, please click here, here and here. To read the Action Plan, click here.

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Workshops on key economic issues regarding the enforcement of IPR in the EU

With the Directive 2004/48/EC on the enforcement of intellectual property rights and the Commission proposal for a Directive on trade secrets the European Union has set the framework for civil redress against the infringement and misappropriation of intellectual property (IP) within the EU. However, the dynamic evolution of the markets in which ideas, technologies and innovations associated with IP are developed and traded requires careful monitoring.

While the European Commission has procedures and tools for the monitoring of existing EU law and the in-depth analysis of potential problems, it seeks to establish closer links with experts and researchers in the field in order to proactively screen developments in the area of IP and their likely economic impacts.

To this end, the European Commission is establishing a list of economists, researchers and experts specialised in the economics of IP. On the basis of this list, the Commission will invite experts in the respective area to thematic workshops to discuss issues which are considered relevant for the economic context of IP.

Should you be interested and qualified, please indicate your interest using this link.

The Commission intends to hold the first economic workshop on 19 September to discuss the concepts of “commercial scale” and “commercial purpose” in the context of IP infringements.

For further information, please click here.

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Council agrees its position on the protection of trade secrets

The Council of the European Union, in its composition of EU ministers responsible for competitiveness, adopted a general approach on the draft directive protecting against the theft of confidential business information.

The general approach adopted by the Council establishes a minimum level of harmonisation of civil laws across the EU, while giving member states the scope to apply stricter measures if necessary. It sets the limitation period for an action by the plaintiff at six years and guarantees the confidentiality of legal proceedings. It also aligns principles and legal definitions with existing international agreements. 

The general approach paves the way to start negotiations with the European Parliament with a view to reaching an agreement at first reading. The European Parliament has not delivered its opinion yet.

For more information, please click here.

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eLearning course on customs enforcement of IPR

This eLearning course has been developed under the Customs 2013 Programme to fill the knowledge gap appearing with the new EU Regulation (No 608/2013, see page 15) on customs enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), applicable from 1st January, 2014.

There have been several important changes in the legislation that affect the way customs work on IPR enforcement. This short eLearning course contains all the key information you will need.

The course consists of approximately one hour of interactive material divided into five lessons as follows:

  • Course introduction – short guide on how best to use the eLearning course
  • Basics of IPR – explanation of the basic IPR concepts
  • IPR Enforcement Process – detailed description of the new process (including the process for small consignments and ex officio), the time lines, the responsibilities of each party and much more
  • Course summary
  • Assessment – interactive quiz on the content of the eLearning

For further information, please click here.

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Launch of survey on protection and enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights outside the EU

The EU Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights has launched a survey among EU businesses and EU IP professionals who have an interest in the protection and enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in non-EU countries. The Observatory is carrying out the survey on behalf of the EU Commission (DG Trade), which has carried out similar surveys in the past.

The purpose of the survey is to gather information from those involved with and interested in IP rights in non-EU countries, in order to build up a picture of the reality of IPR protection and enforcement in countries outside the EU.

The Observatory will collate the responses and send them to DG Trade, which will then use them, along with information from other sources, to put together analyses of the situation in non-EU countries.

DG Trade will also use this information to compile its own reports on the general IPR enforcement scene in non-EU countries, as well as the situation in individual countries. The survey will be one of the tools used to help improve the IPR enforcement scene in non-EU countries, so the views of EU businesses and EU IP professionals with experience or interest in this area would be particularly welcomed. 

To participate in this survey, please click here.

For further assistance on the survey, please email the EU Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights at: ObservatorySurvey@oami.europa.eu.

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New rules make it easier to confiscate counterfeited assets across the EU

Rules to make it easier for national authorities to freeze and confiscate crooks' assets across the EU were approved by Parliament on Tuesday, February 25.

The draft law requires member states to enable the confiscation of criminal assets following a final conviction. It will also enable the authorities to confiscate assets even if the suspect or accused person is ill or has flown, e.g. through in absentia proceedings.

The agreement should be formally approved by the Council in the coming weeks. Member states will have 30 months to transpose the directive into their national laws. Ireland will take part in these arrangements, while the UK and Denmark will not.

For further information, please click here.

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European citizens and Intellectual Property: perception, awareness and behaviour

“European Citizens and Intellectual Property” is the first EU wide study of its kind. It provides a comprehensive assessment of citizens’ perceptions of Intellectual Property (IP) and its infringements, both from a qualitative and quantitative point of view. The study, commissioned by the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) acting through the European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights, follows the release in September of a study carried out by OHIM and the European Patent Office showing that Intellectual Property Rights-intensive industries support around 76 million jobs in the EU, and generate 39% of all EU-wide economic activity.

The study is underpinned by a survey of 26,500 people aged 15 and over and it aims to provide independent and reliable data and serve as a baseline for future actions and policy-making.

Research reveals that European citizens value IP highly and fully acknowledge its contribution to social and economic wellbeing. However at individual level, European citizens express some tolerance for IP infringements, in certain cases.

The main findings are:

  • 96% of Europeans believe that IP is important because it supports innovation and creativity by rewarding inventors, creators and artists for their work;
  • 86% agree that protecting IP contributes to improving the quality of products and services;
  • 69% of those questioned value IP because they believe it contributes to the creation of jobs and economic well-being;
  • As a result, they condemn IP infringements;
  • An average of 34% of Europeans thinks that buying counterfeit goods can be justified to save money;
  • 38% say purchasing counterfeits can be justified as an act of protest against a market-driven economy;
  • 22% think downloading is acceptable when there is no legal alternative; and
  • 42% of Europeans think this is acceptable for personal use.

For more information and to read the study in full, please click here.

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