For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

BREAKING NEWS: EU Commission releases new Action Plan on IPR enforcement

The EU Commission has just adopted a Communication on an Action Plan [a real working document, published with track changes still on] aiming at renewing the consensus [thus assuming that consensus might not be as enthusiastic as it used to be ...] on the enforcement of IP rights, and a Strategy [the text of which is apparently still unavailable?] for the protection and enforcement of IP rights in third countries

With the former the Commission seeks to re-orientate its policy for IP enforcement towards a better compliance of IP rights by all economic actors. 

Rather than penalising the citizen for infringing – often unknowingly – IP rights, the actions set out in this Action Plan pave the way towards a “follow the money approach” [mentioned just yesterday by Alberto here], seeking to deprive commercial scale infringers of the revenue flows that draw them into such activities.

According to the press release, the EU Action Plan sets out 10 actions to focus the EU's IPR enforcement policy on commercial scale infringements, while the Strategy examines recent changes and presents ways to improve the Commission's current means of action to promote enhanced IPR standards in third countries and to stem the trade in IPR infringing goods.

"The adoption of this Action Plan shows how we want to re-orientate our policy towards better compliance with intellectual property rights by the private sector", said EU Commissioner for Internal Market and Services and Katfriend Michel Barnier. "Rather than penalising the individual for infringing intellectual property rights, often unknowingly, the actions set out here pave the way towards a 'follow the money' approach, with the aim of depriving commercial-scale infringers of their revenue flows."
Reginald says:
follow the money
is a good thing to do ...
Our businesses, creators and inventors should be duly rewarded for their creative and innovating efforts”, said EU Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht. “For that, and to maintain the incentives that drive innovation and creativity, we must keep working on improving standards with our international partners. We will remain open to adapting our approach according to their levels of development, but underline the positive impacts that intellectual property can have on growth, jobs and consumers."
"Effective IPR enforcement must be underpinned by close cooperation amongst enforcement authorities, and between those authorities and business stakeholders. This is essential both within the EU and with our international partners," said Algirdas Šemeta, EU Commissioner for Customs. "Fostering this multi-stakeholder approach is challenging, but it is the only way to ensure proper protection of our intellectual property in the EU and in international trade."
The EU Action Plan against infringements of IP rights foresees:
  • engaging in a dialogue with stakeholders (eg online advertising agencies and payment service providers) to reduce profits from commercial-scale infringements on the internet;
  • promoting due diligence among all actors involved in production of goods with a high degree of intellectual property, since responsible supply chain auditing and application of due diligence reduces the risk of IP infringements;
  • helping small businesses to enforce their IP rights more effectively by improving court procedures; to achieve this, the Commission will look for the first time at national schemes directly assisting SMEs in accessing justice systems;
  • improving cooperation between Member States and facilitating exchanges of best practices;
  • providing a comprehensive training programme for Member State authorities with a view to achieving faster preventive actions against commercial scale IP-infringing activities across the EU and identification of barriers to cross-border cooperation.
... But sometimes you also need to
follow the smell of something better
As regards the international protection of IP rights, the Commission proposes:
  • continuing multilateral efforts to improve the international IPR framework and ensuring that IPR chapters in bilateral trade agreements offer adequate and efficient protection for right-holders;
  • working with partner countries, through IP dialogues and working groups, to address systemic IP issues and key weaknesses in their IPR systems;
  • conducting regular surveys in order to identify a list of ‘priority countries’ for focused EU efforts;
  • assisting SMEs and right-holders on the ground through projects such as IPR Helpdesks whilst leveraging and strengthening IP expertise in the EU and Member States' representations in third countries;
  • providing and promoting awareness of appropriate IP-related technical assistance programmes to third countries (eg training, capacity building, how to leverage IP assets).
What will happen next?
Still according to the press release, the actions set out in these Communications will be launched and carried out in 2014 and 2015. The Commission will monitor the delivery of these initiatives, and invites the European Parliament, the Council, Member States, the European Economic and Social Committee and stakeholders (including OHIM through the European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights) to actively contribute to the work ahead. The Commission will consider at a later stage [this is not so surprising, says EU IP policy expert Merpel] whether further, potentially legislative, measures are necessary. 
Will they be?

1 comment:

Alberto Bellan said...

"helping small businesses to enforce their IP rights more effectively by improving court procedures; to achieve this, the Commission will look for the first time at national schemes directly assisting SMEs in accessing justice systems"

Does the EU Commission fancy some revision of national judicial procedures? Really? That would be great, at least as far as some Countries are concerned -- ie, Italy.

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