European IPR Helpdesk Bulletin Issue (16)

We are pleased to inform you that a new issue of the European IPR Helpdesk Bulletin has been released and is now available on-line.

An important objective of the former European IPR Helpdesk service was to empower its users to increase their knowledge on Intellectual Property and to develop their capacities to put Intellectual Property into practice. For the next four-year period to come, an important challenge will be to bring the services even closer to the end users and to continue to enhance the number of users reached and the geographical coverage.

Currently several hot topics in the field of Intellectual Property are part of the political agenda in Europe, for example the implementation of the unitary patent in Europe, copyright in the digital age, new legislation about trademark law, and so on. Keeping its users updated about the evolution of these issues and making the changes understandable in order to identify consequent opportunities for researchers and SMEs will be another challenge for the European IPR Helpdesk.

In this first Bulletin issue of the year we have concentrated our efforts on providing you with practical information related to enforcement, IP management and other issues for you to discover.

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Advocate General’s opinion on standard-essential patent owners’ obligations

In a case (C-170/13) referred by the German Court to the Court of Justice of the European Union on standard-essential patent (SEP), the Advocate General Melchior Wathelet delivered his non-binding opinion to the Court suggesting that the owner of a standard-essential patent that seeks corrective measures or brings an prohibitory injunction without informing the alleged infringer about the infringing action in writing, giving reasons, and specifying the SEP concerned and the manner in which it has been infringed by the infringer, would be liable of abuse of a dominant position.

“The SEP-holder must, in any event, present to the alleged infringer a written offer of a licence on FRAND terms which contains all the terms normally included in a licence in the sector in question, in particular the precise amount of the royalty and the way in which that amount is calculated”, the Advocate General noted.

For more information and to read in full the Advocate General’s opinion, please click here.

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China to boost IPR protection

The Chinese government on Wednesday vowed to boost intellectual property rights (IPR) protection in upgrading the country's economy.

IPR protection is key for a country's development and competition and China will work to forge a better legal, market and cultural environment for IPR protection, said a statement issued after an executive meeting of the State Council presided over by Premier Li Keqiang.

For businesses wishing to enter the Chinese market, the China IPR SME Helpdesk supports European Union (EU) small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to both protect and enforce their Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in or relating to China, through the provision of free information and services.

More information about the China IPR SME Helpdesk services is available here.

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Defending and enforcing IP

Starting from an overall understanding of the relevance of IP “from the idea to the market”, the aim of this new fact sheet is to point out that in order to enforce IP rights it is vital that organisations be aware of the intangible assets they own and take steps to protect and properly manage them. In so doing, organisations having IP as an underlying business asset will be less susceptible to IP abuses.

Should an IP right infringement occur it is suggested that alternative mechanisms to resolve disputes are explored and that, only when this is not a viable solution, you enforce your rights through legal proceedings.

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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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