The European Brands Association (AIM) and the German Markenverband e.V. are calling on the EU to initiate a new legal framework for effectively fighting the online trade in counterfeits. The requests are issued as the EU Commission recently introduced its new Digital Strategy, and as the bloc might prepare for a possible revision of its eCommerce Directive from 2000 (Directive 2000/31/EC on electronic commerce).
AIM urges that traders on the Internet should more effectively be required to comply with EU standards. Counterfeits should be explicitly included here, as they cause substantial economic damage: according to OECD and EUIPO, around 6.8 percent of all imports into the EU are counterfeit. With a legal framework similar to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Europe could also play a pioneering role in the digital economy.
One of AIM’s suggestions is, for example, to close loopholes for counterfeiters – by using information such as payment data or company registration details to ensure that detected counterfeiters do not offer goods again on online platforms. The same approach is also to be taken against alleged consumer accounts that are used for the commercial trade in counterfeit goods. In addition, new technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning should be used in the fight against illegal online trade – and relevant data should be shared more effectively with authorities such as customs officials to enable more effective law enforcement.
The German brands association also called on the EU Commission to take action. “We are pleased about the clear statement of the EU Commission that everything which is illegal offline should also be illegal online,” comments Christian Köhler, Chief Executive Officer of Markenverband. “We now need clarity from the Commission on how specifically consumers, brand companies, and the European economy are to be protected from the negative effects of counterfeit sales on the Internet,” Köhler continues.
In Germany, too, measures to combat the trade in counterfeits on the Internet have recently been discussed. An initiative in the Bundesrat, the German federal council, focused for example on proposals to make e-commerce platforms more accountable.