The Enforcement Database: an overview
The Enforcement Database is designed to provide a secure channel for businesses to exchange information with enforcement officials.
The Enforcement Database (EDB) is a key project for the EU Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights – a department within OHIM – and has grown considerably over the past year, adding new users and more data. The firms using the database are spread across 24 sectors, ranging from mobile phones to cosmetics. The EDB started out with just five pilot companies participating in the project; today, that number stands at around 100.
The idea behind the EDB is very simple. It provides a secure channel for businesses to exchange information with enforcement officials – information that could be vital in tracking down counterfeit products. Businesses upload data that they think could be useful to enforcement officials in spotting counterfeit goods. That data can then be accessed by enforcers across the European Union and used to distinguish fakes from genuine branded products.
Figure 1: Sector spread of companies using the database
The database was originally created as part of OHIM’s €50 million Cooperation Fund and then transferred to the EU Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights once development work had finished. The EDB’s further development was informed by the work of a steering group, made up of stakeholders from across the European Union, who gave valuable input and feedback on how it should evolve to better serve the needs of business and enforcement.
Although the database is easy to use, firms can also receive training from OHIM’s dedicated training teams, which travel to participating businesses to work with staff there. The EDB also connects several IP databases (including TMview and DesignView), which ensures that the information it contains about the validity of the different rights is always up to date. Users are provided with an alert module and the EDB has translation capacities – vital to ensure that information can be accessed quickly and easily.The key is that participating businesses have complete control over what is uploaded, which can range from logistical details to product descriptions to contact points at company headquarters. The data uploaded is always safe and secure. In fact, earlier this year the EDB received a Service Organisation Controls Type 2 security certificate, following a rigorous independent audit. This type of certification is especially geared towards technology-oriented services and tools, notably those running complex systems.
Once firms upload their data, it can then be accessed by enforcement professionals across the European Union. An improved version of the database was launched in April this year, which included a connection to the secure network of customs officials owned by the Directorate General for Taxation and Customs at the European Commission. This link means that all customs officers across the 28 EU member states can now connect to the EDB from their workstations.
Once firms upload their data, it can then be accessed by enforcement professionals across the European Union
OHIM and the World Customs Organisation (WCO) signed a memorandum of understanding earlier this year, which means that the two organisations are now working together to create a connection with the WCO’s own tool. This will allow data to be transferred safely and securely between the two databases.
Next year, the EDB will also connect to Europol’s Police Operations Network, which will add another layer of enforcement access. Additionally, next year will see a full connection with the European Commission’s COPIS database, which will allow the application form to be filed electronically.
Additionally, OHIM is training customs officers and other enforcement authorities in each member state on the use of the EDB via a ‘train the trainer’ approach, to ensure that as many professionals as possible receive information on how to operate the database. This work is being coordinated with EU national and regional IP offices.