INTA Bulletin

June 15, 2015 Vol. 70 No. 11 Back to Bulletin Main Page

The EU Observatory’s Enforcement Database

The Enforcement Database (EDB) of the EU Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights is a bridge between rights holders and enforcement authorities. It is completely free to use and provides a direct link between businesses and enforcement to make it easier to detect counterfeit goods, and prevent them reaching the marketplace.

Developed by OHIM’s Cooperation Fund for the EU Observatory, a department within OHIM, it allows rights holders to record information about their intellectual property rights.

Enforcement authorities, like customs and police, can then access this information when they need to—when they investigate a suspicious shipment, for example, or when they need to take action against suspected infringements.
Rights holders have complete discretion in terms of what they choose to put in the database. They might choose to add product information, distinguishing features, transport routes or anything else they think might help enforcers to distinguish their genuine products from counterfeits.

The EDB is completely secure. It has been built to the same exacting security standards as those used by major banks and financial institutions and is SOC 2 security certified. It is constructed on existing OHIM registers, like TMview (for trademark information) and Designview (for registered designs). Customs across the EU can access its information via the secure network developed by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Taxation and Customs Union.

The EDB is available in 23 EU languages, making it easier for customs officers and enforcement authorities to access relevant information in their own language. It also allows electronic generation of applications for action (AFAs), which are requests for EU customs authorities to take action against infringing products. This is particularly useful in situations involving EU Member States that do not already offer a way to file these types of requests online.
Currently, 27 of the 28 EU customs authorities have joined the EDB, and in the past few months, police forces across the EU have begun to join too. The Guardia di Finanza in Italy and the Guardia Civil in Spain are already using the tool.
OHIM is working on a link with the Interface Public-Members system developed by the World Customs Organization to allow transfer of data between the two tools. This follows from a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the two organizations in June last year, and means rights owners will not need to provide the same information to both systems.

For enforcers, however, the value of the EDB lies in the information contained within it. All data within the tool is based on official, verified records, and when rights holders join, they are invited to give contact details of a person or persons within their companies who can be contacted quickly in case of need.

Joining the EDB is completely free and easy to do; signup takes place online and applicants are sent a registration code by post. The only requirement is that applicants have at least one trademark or design at the time of application. Rights owners can choose whether to manage their EDB account in-house, or instruct an agent to do it for them. It’s important to stress that, for security reasons, the IPR owner’s registered physical address is the first point of contact for EDB membership, with the rights holder deciding who then administers the user account and login credentials. More than 160 companies are currently signed up with EDB and more are joining every day.

Additionally, all EDB users are invited to take part in the EDB Forum, which takes place at OHIM’s headquarters in Alicante, Spain, on September 8–9. Participation is free for enforcement authorities and rights holders. Users are also invited to take part in sectorial and regional knowledge-building meetings, which are regularly organized by the EU Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights. These gatherings allow rights holders to share their experiences, as well as issues that they are encountering, when enforcing their IP rights.

For more information on the EDB, see the dedicated EDB web page, or contact  

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of items in the INTA Bulletin, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest.

© 2015 International Trademark Association