New measures aim to ensure that intellectual property rights are upheld, to stem the flow €85B annual influx of pirated and counterfeit goods, and encourage SMEs and start-ups to invest in innovation
The Commission is pushing member states to curb abuses of intellectual property, issuing new guidance on how to apply existing law on enforcement of trade mark and patent rights.
The aim is to make it easier to protect intellectual property rights (IPR), facilitate cross-border litigation, and reduce the annual import to the EU of counterfeit and pirated goods, which are currently valued at €85 billion.
The new guidance provides clarification on how to apply the 2004 directive on the enforcement of intellectual property rights, which has been differently interpreted by member states. The Commission has clarified these interpretation issues, which it says will increase legal certainty and make it easier to enforce IPR across the EU, without the need for new legislation.
Ensuring there is an equally high level of legal protection and a predictable judicial framework across the EU is a key step in upping the fight against counterfeiting and piracy. By making it easier to bring cases, the Commission says commercial-scale IP infringers can be stripped of the revenue flows that make this criminal activity so lucrative.
Taking a so-called ‘follow the money’ approach, focused on organised gangs rather than individuals, will allow enforcement action to be taken against the sale of counterfeit goods on the internet, the Commission says.
Industry will be encouraged to fight back against IP infringements, with the Commission saying it will support industry-led initiatives, such as voluntary agreements on advertising on websites, on payment services and on transport and shipping.
Such agreements can lead to faster action against counterfeiting and piracy than court actions.
To reduce the volume of counterfeited products reaching the EU, the Commission says it will reinforce cooperation programmes with China, South-East Asia and Latin America, and create a watch-list of markets that are reported to engage in, or facilitate, substantial IPR infringement.
In addition, the Commission will step up co-operation between EU customs authorities, notably by assessing the implementation of the EU Customs Action Plan on IP infringements for 2013-2017, and by proposing more targeted assistance for national customs authorities.