Commission gets tough on counterfeiting and piracy

European Union

The European Commission has published its proposed Council Regulation setting out new rules to improve the actions of customs authorities against counterfeit and pirated goods. The proposed regulation will (i) harmonize the means of enforcing intellectual property rights, and (ii) set up a new framework for administrative cooperation and the exchange of information between EU authorities.

While it will keep the basic principles of the existing Community Regulation on Counterfeiting, the proposed regulation will introduce, among other things, the following measures:

  • All member states will have to grant competent authorities the power to impose interim injunctions and other measures to prevent unlawful goods from crossing EU borders;

  • Anyone involved, even innocently, in the manufacture, distribution or use of infringing items will be obliged to provide certain information to help the rights holders identify the source of the infringing goods;

  • Customs authorities will have more scope to seize goods without the prior application for action from rights holders;

  • Rights holders will have the option of having infringing goods destroyed with the agreement of the person holding or declaring the goods, without having to await the outcome of substantive legal proceedings;

  • Rights holders will no longer be charged a fee when applying to a customs authority to seize infringing goods, although they will have to pay if no actual infringement is found;

  • Collecting societies, in addition to the rights holders or their licensees, will have the right to take enforcement action;

  • Geographical indications and designations of origin will be protected; and

  • Goods found in a traveller's personal baggage within the limits of the duty-free allowance will be covered by the new regulation where such goods are suspected of being part of large-scale traffic.

The proposal, which has been criticized by organizations representing copyright owners for not going far enough, is now with the European Parliament and the EU Council of Ministers for consideration.

Richard Dickinson and Jake Marshall, Lovells, London

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