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EU to Focus IPR Efforts on Commercial Scale Infringement, Priority Countries

Tuesday, July 08, 2014
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The European Commission adopted July 1 two communications aimed at improving the European Union’s efforts to protect and enforce intellectual property rights. One is an action plan that will focus the EU’s IPR enforcement policy on commercial scale infringements because they do the most harm to the EU economy by reducing tax revenues, discouraging investment in innovation, undermining job creation, and jeopardizing public health and safety. The other is a revised strategy to promote enhanced IPR standards in third countries (with flexibility according to their level of development) and stem trade in IPR infringing goods. The Commission states that these measures “go hand-in-hand” with the EU Customs Action plan, which focuses on border enforcement and developing deeper cooperation between customs authorities in the EU and in third countries. The actions set out in these communications will be launched and carried out in 2014 and 2015 and the Commission will consider at a later stage whether further, potentially legislative, measures are necessary.

Action Plan

- promote efforts to launch and monitor a new generation of targeted communication campaigns, including to raise awareness among young people on the economic harm caused by commercial-scale IPR infringements and the potential health and safety risks associated with IPR-infringing products

- launch a series of consultations with all relevant stakeholders (including right-holders) on applying due diligence throughout supply chains as a means to prevent commercial-scale IPR infringements and then develop an EU due diligence scheme on the basis of the information collected

- facilitate the development of further voluntary agreements to reduce the profits of commercial-scale IPR infringements in the online environment following dialogues involving advertising service providers, payment services and shippers

- analyze and report on existing national initiatives seeking to improve IPR civil enforcement procedures for small businesses, particularly with respect to low value claims, and consider possible action in this area

- consult stakeholders on the need for future EU action based on the best practices found in nationally financed schemes helping small businesses enforce their IPR

- establish an expert group on IPR enforcement in which EU member states could share best practices on the work of concerned authorities within the EU

- provide a comprehensive training program for member state authorities with a view to achieving faster preventive actions against commercial-scale infringing activities across the EU and the identification of barriers to cross-border cooperation

- develop, promote and publish a guide on best practices for public authorities to avoid purchasing counterfeit products

- publish a biennial report on the economic impact of the EU’s IPR policy that could serve as a more effective monitoring tool

International Strategy

- continue multilateral efforts to improve the international IPR framework and ensure that IPR chapters in bilateral trade agreements offer adequate and efficient protection for right-holders

- work with partner countries through IPR dialogues and working groups to address systemic issues and key weaknesses in their IPR systems

- conduct surveys every two years to identify a list of priority countries for focused EU efforts

- help SMEs and right-holders on the ground through projects such as IPR help desks while leveraging and strengthening IPR expertise in the EU and member states’ representations in third countries

- provide and promote awareness of appropriate IPR-related technical assistance programs to third countries (e.g., training, capacity building, how to leverage IP assets)

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