Hands across the ocean, hands off our IP!

Question: how do  you fight counterfeits?  Answer: easy, launch a website.  "Transatlantic Economic Council: EU and US launch joint website against counterfeiting and piracy" is the grand name of a media release that has reached the IPKat,  and which breathlessly announces more than we can even dream of.   The text runs as follows:
"International trade in counterfeit and pirated goods is estimated to $250 billion a year. With a view to encourage SMEs to break into foreign markets and avoid risks in terms of the violation of their intellectual property rights (IPR), the US and Europe are joining forces [The irresistible force? ]. On the occasion of the Transatlantic Economic Council in Washington of 17 December, a new website will be launched, the TransAtlantic IPR Portal, offering guidance to enterprises in the EU and the US that wish to successfully do business in other countries. The portal is part of the mission to strengthen cooperation between the EU and the USA. 
... The goal of the joint website is to help EU and US companies fully utilize all the intellectual property rights (IPR) related resources and tools [It would be great to know what these tools are] developed on both sides of the Atlantic. It will enable SMEs to protect their intangible assets – brands, trademarks and patents – before entering foreign markets and to take preventive action. It will offer advice, 'country toolkits' on IPR protection in more than 20 markets around the world and tailor-made guides for various sectors including textiles, leather, footwear, and furniture [These sectors are certainly worthy of attention and have suffered from all manner of infringement in recent years. The Kat was a little surprised to see no explicit mention of healthcare, hygiene and cosmetics -- sectors in which not all the players are "big boys" and SMEs can struggle to gain and retain market entry. The absence of reference to the recording industry is noted and the Kat wonders whether this is because the public -- the main allies of the counterfeiters and the infringers in this sector -- is so unsympathetic to it]. 
This project is undertaken by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Directorate General for Enterprise and Industry of the European Commission, on behalf of the US-EU IPR Working Group established in 2004. This working group is co-chaired by the US Department of Commerce, the Office of the US Trade Representative and the Directorate General for Trade of the European Commission, and reports to the Transatlantic Economic Council. It was constituted to identify the areas and modalities for joint action particularly in third-country markets where the US and EU share many of the same concerns regarding intellectual property rights protection".
If you want more information from the European perspective, click here.   To access the portal itself click here.but, if you are as unlucky as the IPKat, all you'll get is a whoopsie, since http://wcmcom-ec-europa-eu-wip.wcm3vue.cec.eu.int:8080/enterprise/initiatives/ipr/index_en.htm doesn't seem to be quite ready to receive visitors yet.

Says the IPKat, while every initiative to assist SMEs is welcome, both in terms of IP detection and enforcement and in terms of enhancing business confidence, there are some questions which I'd like to ask since the initial publicity does not address them:
1. How much of the information in this portal is already freely and publicly available from other websites?

2. How frequently will the information be updated, and by whom?

3. Have SMEs been consulted as to whether (i) this is the sort of information which they require and (ii) this is the format in which they want it?

4. How were the "more than 20 markets" chosen? And can it be assumed that the EU is a single market for these purposes, so we're not double accounting, or do we also count Germany, France, the UK etc?

5. How much of the advice has come from people with experience of civil and/or criminal enforcement and, if so, how were they chosen?

6. Who is responsible for making information concerning this initiative available to SMEs already in existence and those yet to be formed?

7. How is the effectiveness of this website to be monitored? Is there a ready-made metric?

8. If the 20 markets in question are not all English-speaking and/or if the users are not all intended to be English-speaking, what provision has been made for languages and translation?

9. How much money has been spent on establishing this portal and how much is set aside for its maintenance?
Do tell, please!
Hands across the ocean, hands off our IP! Hands across the ocean, hands off our IP! Reviewed by Jeremy on Sunday, December 19, 2010 Rating: 5


  1. http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/initiatives/ipr/manage-your-ipr/index_en.htm

    Go to this page of the EU Portal and then click on "Assessing SME's Intellectual Property" and you are taken to something called "ChinaIPR" Can this be right?

  2. Its a pity this is such a mess because the one thing that European entrepreneurs really need to know about design protection in the US is that it doesn't exist unless they register a design patent

  3. @MaxDrei
    I don't think it can be. By the way, are you not as shaken as I am at the poverty of the advice offered on the China IPR SME Helpdesk website? Such gems as

    "Once you have an overview of the various IP assets in your company, in order to decide on the appropriate way to protect it, consider enlisting the support of an IP professional.

    It is advisable to ensure that the IP professional you choose possesses knowledge of your technical field and is willing to take into account the resource constraints that are often faced by SMEs"

    I'm sure that anyone running an SME will be totally enlightened by that.

  4. Sorry for the incorrect link. The correct one should be:


    We've separately answered your other questions last month in an e-mail, as it was too long to fit in a comment!

    Happy Year of the Rabbit, etc,

    Stephanie Mitchell, DG Enterprise & Industry, European Commission


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