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European Parliament Votes to Strengthen Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement

Thursday, June 13, 2013
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The European Parliament voted June11 to approve new rules aimed at helping customs authorities better enforce intellectual property rights. A fact sheet from the European Commission states that the new Regulation on the Customs Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights, which is expected to become applicable as of Jan. 1, 2014, takes account of developments such as the increasing importance of IPR to the European Union economy, the explosion of postal traffic resulting from Internet sales, and practical problems in the implementation of the present regulation, fundamental procedural rights or the detention of generic medicines in transit through the EU on their way to third countries.

According to materials from the EP and the EC, the new rules include the following provisions.

- The list of possible IPR infringements to be controlled by customs authorities at the border is expanded and includes infringements such as confusingly similar trademarks; i.e., goods where there exists a likelihood of confusion on the part of the public.

- Protected rights are extended to trade names, topographies of semiconductor products, utility models, devices to circumvent technological measures and non-agricultural geographical indications.

- The existing procedure for the early destruction of infringing goods will become mandatory in all EU member states.

- To ease the burden associated with handling the nearly 300% increase in postal consignments detained for IPR violations since 2009, an alternative procedure will be established whereby those caught receiving small quantities (less than two kilograms) of counterfeit goods by mail will be given 10 days to consent to their destruction without having to pay for storage and destruction.

- Medicines may only be delayed or confiscated if there is substantial likelihood that they will end up on the EU market.

- In the framework of IPR enforcement, customs authorities will only detain goods and inform the right-holder when they have a reasonable suspicion of infringement.

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