Relaxation of penalties may have knock-on effect for IP offences

Portugal

Despite the adoption of the new Industrial Property Law, there remain some legislative issues that require attention in order to formulate a coherent and robust IP strategy in Portugal. One such area is the proposed decriminalization of illegal IP practices, which would turn them into lesser, administrative infringements. This may remove one of the few deterrents - the possibility of imprisonment - that actually stops potential IP infringers from infringing.

As part of the same law, various unfair competition practices have been decriminalized in just this way, turning them into administrative offences, punishable by fines. The success or failure of this approach remains to be seen but, if successful, it may well be extended beyond criminal IP offences to other types of infringement.

It seems clears to those working in this field that the threat of imprisonment is probably the only dissuasive factor to piracy. If this were to disappear, counterfeiting is likely to explode on an even greater scale in Portugal, possibly reaching uncontrollable levels.

Sónia Queiróz Vaz, Barrocas Sarmento Rocha - Sociedade de Advogados, Lisbon

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