New EU Measures to Better Enforce Intellectual Property Rights

The European Commission published on 29 November the EU IP package, which aims to promote a balanced enforcement of intellectual property (IP) rights and protect supply chains against IP infringement threats.

It is estimated that IPR-intensive sectors account for around 42 percent of EU GDP, generate 38 percent of all jobs, and contribute to as much as 90 percent of EU exports.

The evaluation by the European Commission has shown that the 2004 Directive on the enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPRED) has proved a relevant tool in fighting IPR abuse, but its measures, procedures and remedies were not being applied consistently across the Member States, resulting in different levels of protection within the EU. Therefore, a new guidance published by the Commission aims at clarifying these interpretation issues, which will increase legal certainty for all stakeholders and facilitate civil enforcement across the EU. Moreover, the Commission calls on the Member States to step up their efforts to provide for effective and predictable civil redress against IP infringements – this would benefit in particular, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by facilitating their access to justice. Member States are also encouraged to step up their efforts by boosting judicial training, systematically publishing judgements on IP cases and encouraging alternative dispute resolution tools.

The new package includes a commitment by the Commission to promote due diligence in supply chains. Companies are increasingly confronted with cases of counterfeit products (such as, for instance, counterfeit electronic parts) infiltrating their supply chains. This is in part due to the emergence of new technologies, which have helped infringers improve their counterfeiting techniques, as well as to the increasing complexity of supply chains, which makes it often difficult for companies, SMEs in particular, to monitor their suppliers and sub-suppliers. The Commission plans to explore the potential of new technologies such as blockchain and encourage the use of existing accreditation processes to introduce IP compliance schemes.

Finally, the Commission promises to step up efforts to reduce IP abuses in third countries. In particular, they plan to create a watch-list of countries that engage in, or facilitate, substantial IPR infringement, and work with customs authorities to stop counterfeit products at the EU’s external borders.

IPC continues to promote strong intellectual property protection and strives to prevent counterfeit products in the supply chain through our standards initiatives and advocacy efforts. Consequently, we welcome the Commission’s commitment to better enforcement of IPRs.

If you would like to learn more about the new EU Intellectual Property package or share your comments, please contact me, at KenSchramko@ipc.org.

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