Magazine article Risk Management

European Regulation Strengthens IP Protection

Magazine article Risk Management

European Regulation Strengthens IP Protection

Article excerpt

When U.S. companies think about protecting their intellectual property rights, few consider global enforcement. For many, protecting their rights domestically seems daunting enough. They would rather not engage any additional time or resources to protect the brand abroad, especially if this means engaging substantial resources without witnessing tangible results. In Europe, however, there are easy steps that can be taken to collaborate with foreign customs in their tight against global infringement. This procedure has become even easier and more efficient since the Jan. 1, 1014, adoption of EU Regulation 608/2013 (repealing former Regulation 1383/2003), which strengthens and streamlines customs procedures relating to the enforcement of IP rights in Europe.

The new regulation includes many improvements over the previous rule. First, there is now a simplified procedure in all member states that allows customs to destroy imported goods suspected of infringing IP rights upon a mere agreement between the rights-holder and the owner of the detained goods. The new regulation also makes it clear that a lack of response from the owner of the suspected infringing goods within 10 days of notification is deemed a consent to property destruction.

In most instances, owners of infringing goods do not respond to notifications from customs, preferring the loss of a shipment to potential liability. Thus, this revision will also considerably streamline the customs seizure process. In practice, this means destruction of the majority of counterfeits imported into Europe upon a mere confirmation that these goods are infringing. The rights-holder will not incur any expenses.

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Second, the new regulation has considerably reinforced the power of EU customs to intervene on a wider range of IP rights. Copyrights, trademarks, designs, utility patents and geographical indications were already covered under past legislation. Now, trade names, topographies or semiconductor products, utility models and technological protection measures are covered as well. This revision may have a substantial impact on technology companies.

Customs are also granted--upon the selection of such an option by the rights-holder in its original application and lack of opposition from the owner of the goods--a new power to destroy, on their own initiative, small consignments (less than three units or two kilograms) of counterfeit and pirated goods without the explicit consent of the rights-holder. …

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