EU adopts new IP protection measures

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The EU Commission has now introduced new measures to protect intellectual property, which propose that affected companies in certain industries should be made more accountable in preventing piracy. Meanwhile, many renowned name brand manufacturers are demanding further steps.

With its new measures, the European Commission wants to facilitate action against IP infringements and further the mediation of cross-border disputes within the EU. By doing so, European companies are to be motivated to invest in new innovations and ensure competitiveness in the EU.

“The comprehensive package we are presenting today improves the application and enforcement of intellectual property rights and encourages investment in technology and product development in Europe,” said Jyrki Katainen, Vice-President of the European Commission, on the presentation of the planned measures at the end of November.

The objectives of the new measures include ensuring a uniform level of legal protection throughout the EU. In addition, the EU Commission wants to step up the fight against IP infringements in order to reduce the volume of counterfeit products on the European market in the long term.

In implementing the newly adopted measures, the EU Commission is relying heavily on voluntary cooperation, especially from online traders, payment systems and logistics companies. Businesses in these areas should commit themselves to responding swiftly to counterfeit suspicions from manufacturers and take their own precautions against piracy. By activating these sectors to cooperate in the fight against infringements of industrial property rights, an efficient and targeted front against product and brand piracy is to be made possible.

However, these steps are not enough for many well-known brand manufacturers and trade associations, especially considering the high level of economic losses caused by piracy. For example, a recent study by the OECD (the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) concluded that counterfeit products account for approximately 5% of total EU imports; this equals about 85 billion euros per year (we reported). In addition, according to the European Commission, in 2016 alone around 41 million counterfeit products were confiscated at the EU borders, worth more than 672 million euro – a significant increase compared to the two previous years.


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In a joint letter to the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, around 100 brands and associations called for a tightening of the existing EU laws. According to them, companies involved in online trade, social networks as well as payment services should be legally obligated to fight against product piracy. “The EU directive is 13 years old. At the time, an Internet provider was a someone who provided the infrastructure, for example, Deutsche Telekom,” explains Alexander Dröge, Head of the Legal and Consumer Protection Department at the association Deutscher Markenverband.

Without coercion, no decisive steps against piracy can be expected from these industries since they would nevertheless profit from the sale of plagiarised products. “If the legal framework for intellectual property protection is not modernised and strengthened, product piracy will continue to increase dramatically,” said the signatories, including Adidas, Bayer and Hipp.

The EU Commission is initially relying on the voluntary commitment of the EU businesses – if they do not cooperate, stricter laws could follow in the future. A decision is expected in May 2018.

Sources: European Commission, Handelsblatt, Zeit

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