INTA’s Anticounterfeiting Committee (ACC) has been working diligently in Eastern Europe to offer a series of roundtables on various counterfeiting issues in the region. As the Chair of the Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EE & CA) Subcommittee of the ACC, I have had the opportunity to attend and organize several of these successful roundtables in Eastern Europe. INTA External Relations Manager for Anticounterfeiting Candice Li also attended the events held in Serbia and Ukraine.
Participants at the Belgrade Roundtable
EE & CA Subcommittee member Mara Janković (Mikijelj Janković & Bogdanović, Serbia) organized a roundtable series titled “The Problem of the Online Sale of Counterfeit Goods in the Republic of Serbia.” The first roundtable in the series was held in the offices of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Belgrade on April 29, 2013, and the second (held on June 26) and subsequent roundtables were held in partnership with the Serbian Chamber of Commerce. The third roundtable, held on September 25, was a gathering of stakeholders from the Republic Agency for Postal Services, the Serbian Post (a public company), the cybercrime unit of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Customs Administration and the Intellectual Property Office of the Republic of Serbia. Ms. Li gave opening remarks on behalf of INTA. A larger roundtable was held on October 9 with some of the same players and members of the public prosecutor’s office. I had the opportunity to attend all of the roundtables in this series.
The roundtable discussions determined that the main issue concerning online counterfeiting in Serbia is that the Law on Personal Data Protection (which went into effect in Serbia in January of 2009) has acted as a barrier to identifying counterfeiters. Similarly, participants found that loopholes in the Law on Postal Services (which went into effect in 2003) were interfering with the identification of infringers as well. The main outcome of the series was that the participating stakeholders, after identifying the main problems in practice, expressed explicit requests for necessary changes to the Law on Personal Data Protection and for the adoption of new regulations within the Law on Postal Services. These changes, if adopted, will allow trademark owners to overcome the obstacles in identifying infringers who offer counterfeit goods for sale online. The roundtable series will continue in early December with a larger one-day conference to be co-hosted by INTA and the Serbian Chamber of Commerce.
Participants at the Kyiv Roundtable
On Friday, September 27, the EE & CA Subcommittee hosted a well-attended full-day roundtable called “Practical Issues in Combating Counterfeits in Ukraine and at Its Borders.” Subcommittee members Alexander Pakharenko (Pakharenko & Partners, Ukraine) and Yaroslav Ognevyuk (Doubinsky & Osharova, Ukraine) organized the event and invited Oleksiy Gashchytsky (State Customs Service of Ukraine, Department of the Ministry of Revenues and Duties), Lyubov Vysotska (Deputy Head of the State Intellectual Property Service of Ukraine) and Inna Shatova (Deputy Head of the Legal Provision and Rights Enforcement Division of the State Intellectual Property Service of Ukraine), as well as fellow EE & CA Subcommittee member Daria Beliaeva (Elena Beliaeva, Nina Vasilieva & Partners, Belarus) as speakers. During the roundtable, members and brand owners shared their experiences in enforcing their rights at customs and within the territory of Ukraine. Among other concerns, they expressed the need for laws allowing for the seizure of goods in transit arriving through the ports on the Black Sea. Also expressed was the expectation that more counterfeit goods will be seized in postal parcels by expanding the activities of the State Customs Service of Ukraine. The issue of calculating damages in cases of manufacturing counterfeit goods was also discussed, and Ukrainian authorities are looking forward to receiving some guidelines from EU case law in this respect. Ukrainian stakeholders expect that the Ukraine will sign the Free Trade Agreement with the European Union in Vilnius, Lithuania, in November, and that this will result in further harmonization of the Ukrainian laws with respect to combating counterfeiting.
The EE & CA Subcommittee is pleased with the results of the series of roundtables in Eastern Europe. We look forward to building on the relationships we formed and the conclusions we reached at these events.