European Commission adopts ‘follow the money’ approach to enforcement of IP rights

The European Commission has adopted two communications – an action plan to address infringements of IP rights in the European Union and a strategy for the protection and enforcement of IP rights in third countries - focusing EU IP rights enforcement policy on commercial-scale infringements. The plan sets a number of actions, including the following:

  • Develop and launch a new generation of targeted communication campaigns to raise awareness on the impact of commercial-scale IP infringements.
  • Initiate a debate on applying due diligence in supply chains and develop a policy initiative in this field.
  • Agree memoranda of understanding to address the profits of commercial-scale IP infringements in the online environment.
  • Analyse national initiatives to improve IP civil enforcement procedures for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in respect of small claims procedures and consider possible action in this field.
  • Review national schemes assisting SMEs to enforce their IP rights.
  • Establish a Member State Expert Group on IP Enforcement to share best practices on the work of national enforcement authorities.
  • Develop a comprehensive set of sectoral IP enforcement training programmes for member state authorities.
  • Compile a guide on best practices to help public authorities avoid purchasing counterfeit products.
  • Publish a biennial report for more effective monitoring of the impact of the European Union’s IP enforcement policy.

These actions will be carried out in 2014 and 2015.

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Counsel comment:

The adoption of this action plan shows how we want to re-orientate our policy towards better compliance with IP rights by the private sector. Rather than penalising the individual for infringing IP 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.

Michel Barnier, EU commissioner for internal market and services

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