On July 1, the European Commission adopted two communications – an Action Plan to address infringements of intellectual property rights (IPR) in the EU and a Strategy for the protection and enforcement of IPR in third countries.
EU Action Plan on Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights
The purpose of the Action Plan is to fight against commercial-scale IP infringements, which in turn should help stimulate growth and employment. In 2012 alone, EU border control agencies registered 90,000 cases of goods suspected of infringing intellectual property rights and OECD estimates that the annual loss from IPR infringements to the world economy is around €200 billion.
The Action Plan contains 10 action points, whose aims are to discourage the entry and circulation of IP-infringing products, to raise awareness through debates and other measures targeting both consumers and suppliers, and to improve cooperation and information-sharing by enforcement authorities in the various EU member states.
EU Strategy on Protection and Enforcement of IPRs in Third Countries
The purposes of European Commission’s new IPR strategy for third countries are to improve the international IPR framework by continuing the already existing multilateral efforts, to raise systemic IP issues and key weaknesses in third countries’ IPR systems through IP Dialogues and Working Groups, and to provide and promote awareness of appropriate IP-related technical assistance programs.
Moreover, the European Commission is also considering restricting participation in, or funding by, EU programs, for non-EU countries that persistently break their commitments to IP rules. This, however, would not affect programs financed by the European Development Fund or Development Cooperation Instrument.
The EU Action Plan and IPR strategy for third countries are complementary and go hand-in-hand with the existing EU Customs Action Plan. The actions will be launched and carried out in 2014 and 2015. At a later stage the Commission will consider whether further, potentially legislative, measures are necessary.