INTA Champions Intellectual Property Rights and Anticounterfeiting Efforts in Europe

Published: July 15, 2019

Intellectual Property (IP) professionals and government officials gathered June 12‒13, in Paris, France, to discuss solutions to global counterfeiting and ways to strengthen collaborative IP enforcement strategies, at the European Union Intellectual Property Office-Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (EUIPO-OECD) International Forum on IP Enforcement.

INTA President David Lossignol (Novartis Pharma AG, Switzerland) provided an industry perspective, emphasizing two key strategies to combat the proliferation of counterfeiting: namely, collaboration and changing perceptions. On the first point, he said, “We need a team effort-in all countries, with all stakeholders, with all generations. The issue is too large for any one brand or one government authority to tackle alone.” Secondly, he called for raising awareness and educating consumers, especially youth, to change perceptions, noting, “We must educate early and educate often.”

Mr. Lossignol provided an overview of the key findings of INTA’s GenZ Insights: Brand and Counterfeit Products study, a multi-country study highlighting the attitudes of Gen Z consumers toward purchasing counterfeit products, and the factors that influence their behaviors. Among educational solutions, he pointed to INTA’s Unreal Campaign, which raises awareness among young consumers about the dangers of counterfeits and emphasizes the importance of trademarks and brands.

Further topics covered at the event included the role of intermediaries in the fight against counterfeiting; the importance of international cooperation across countries and sectors; and raising the awareness of consumers and citizens, especially the younger population.

For more detailed information on the discussions at the forum, please see the recent blog post on the INTA Blog.

Brexit: Another Hurdle in the Political Process; United Kingdom’s Intellectual Property Exhaustion Study Fails to Promote a Specific Regime

In recent months, Brexit has presented a new array of surprises and delays. Indeed, on the political side, UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s resignation on June 7 put the Brexit process on hold yet again. With the October 31 deadline to deliver Brexit looming, the UK Tory Party must now elect a new Prime Minister by July 23, for which pro-Brexit former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson appears to be the favorite. This represents yet another delay with no reassurances that Brexit will indeed take place on October 31.

In order to provide information to the UK government in making its decision, the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) on June 17, published its feasibility study on the exhaustion regime following the day of Brexit. Although the study examined several methodological approaches, it unfortunately found that “the data available on the extent and scale of parallel trade is limited.” Moreover, the study did not include an analysis of the different exhaustion regimes, and therefore did not issue policy recommendations nor advocate for one specific regime.

INTA continued to pursue its advocacy efforts in the UK, with INTA Past President Toe Su Aung (Elipe Global, UK) representing the Association at a roundtable in London, UK, on July 3. The event was attended by a number of associations, and organized by Chris Skidmore, Member of Parliament and UK Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation and Interim Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth, in Charge of IP. Discussions touched upon Brexit (representation of rights, exhaustion, and enforcement), as well as IP and trade, and IP and innovation.

European Union Elections; EU Top Jobs: Council’s Dominance on the Process; Experience and Gender Equality Promoted for Candidates

Following the EU elections, which took place May 23‒26, the race for the top EU positions began. After several days of meetings, the 28 EU heads of states and governments on July 2, designated (with qualified majority) the representatives for the EU “top jobs.”

These positions, including the presidency of the Parliament, were designated as a collective group (not one by one), in order to respect political, national, and gender lines, as well as competence for the job. EU heads of states and governments designated the following positions:

  • President of the European Commission (five-year term)
    Ursula von der Leyen
    (Conservative European People’s Party group (EPP), Germany) Current German Defense Minister. She must be confirmed by the European Parliament (EP) July 15‒19.
  • High-Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (five-year term)
    Joseph Borell
    (Socialists & Democrats (S&D), Spain) Current Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister and former President of the EU Parliament. As the Commissioner-designate, he will have to be proposed by each member state. The candidate will then face an individual hearing, followed by a confirmation vote by the EP; that is, the Commission as a whole including the High-Representative.
  • President of the Council (two-and-a-half-year term, renewable once)
    Charles Michel
    (Liberal Renew Europe (RE), Belgium) Former Belgian Prime Minister.
  • President European Central Bank (eight-year term)
    Christine Lagarde
    (EPP, France) Current head of the International Monetary Fund, and former French Finance Minister.

Given the configuration of the Council, no single EU party has a qualified majority. As noted above, the Parliament must confirm two of these top positions. Though it is likely that such confirmation will occur, there are three unknown issues that could go against it:

  1. The process of designation marked the domination of the EU heads of states to the detriment of the EU Parliament. Indeed, no “spietzenkandidaten” (lead persons in each EU political party) were nominated, and therefore the Parliament was completely left out of the process. This raised strong opposition in Parliament, and could make the confirmation process quite difficult.
  2. A majority for confirmation will have to include three groups (most certainly EPP, S&D, and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE)). In the overall political bargaining, out of all the top jobs, the S&D only received the High-Representative position, despite coming second in the EU elections, and could therefore not follow the Council’s recommendations. This scenario appears less likely.
  3. Moreover, the anti-EU groups (135 Members of the European Parliament altogether), though short of a majority, will use the hearings and confirmation process to create turmoil and raise difficulties for the pro-EU designates.

On July 3, the European Parliament elected as its President, David Sassoli (Socialist S&D, Italy), a Member of the European Parliament since 2009, to a two-and-a-half-year term. Moreover, the Parliament adopted the composition of its parliamentary committees. Among those relevant for the IP community are the following:

  • Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI), 25 members-lead on IP issues
  • Committee on International Trade (INTA), 41 members-in charge of free trade agreements, including the IP rights chapters
  • Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE), 72 members-in charge of industrial policy sensu lato
  • Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO), 45 members-in charge of consumer protection, notably in the digital world
  • Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), 68 members-in charge notably of data protection and Internet governance issues

In Brief: Recent Developments in Europe

  • INTA CEO in Brussels: International Trademark Association CEO Etienne Sanz de Acedo met on July 3 with Maria Martin-Prat, Director for Services, Investment, Intellectual Property and Public Procurement at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Trade, as well as with U.S. IP attaché, Susan Wilson. Discussions focused on the Commission’s priorities-notably for the next 2019‒2024 mandate-in particular, on trade agreements and IP rights dialogues in third countries (non-EU), as well as INTA’s strategy to increase awareness on IP and EU-U.S. relations. Hélène Nicora, INTA Europe Chief Representative Officer, and Carolina Oliveira, INTA Policy Officer, Europe Office, also participated in the meetings.
  • Customs: INTA Anticounterfeiting-Western Europe Subcommittee Chair Huib Berendschot (AKD, The Netherlands) and Hadrien Valembois, INTA Policy Officer, Europe Office, attended the 7th EU Customs-rights holders and stakeholders meeting on July 3, in Brussels, Belgium. The event, which was organized by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union (DG TAXUD), drew user associations and representatives of EU Member States customs. Discussions touched upon the EU electronic applications for actions; the upcoming annual report on customs IP rights infringements at the EU borders (expected for the second part of September); Brexit; and the Belt and Road initiative.
  • EUIPO: On June 26, Carolina Oliveira attended a meeting on “EUIPO Boards of Appeal Trademarks and Designs Dispute Resolution and Case Law,” at the EUIPO Liaison Office in Brussels, Belgium. At the event, representatives of the EUIPO Boards of Appeal (BoA) discussed with the audience the BoA’s Effective Dispute Resolution approach, including its mediation and conciliation options, and provided an update of recent case law of the BoA.
  • Trademark Oppositions: INTA held a Trademark Administrators Seminar on Trademark Oppositions in Austria: Best Practices and Recent Developments in 2019 on June 26, in Vienna, Austria.
  • Internet Governance: INTA held an educational roundtable in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, on June 18 highlighting, “The State of Play for Trademarks and Brands-Where Is Internet Governance Ahead of the EuroDIG?”
  • Counterfeiting: The EUIPO and EUROPOL on June 12, unveiled their 2019 Intellectual Property Crime Threat Assessment, an update to previous editions released in 2015 and 2017. The report assesses the threat posed by counterfeiting and piracy in the EU in several product sectors, as well as cross-cutting factors that influence or impact the criminal environment.

Next in Europe: Important Upcoming Dates to Keep in Mind

  • July 15‒19: Plenary session of the EU Parliament to vote on the confirmation of the President of the Commission, Ms. Ursula von der Leyen
  • September 15‒17: INTA Trademark Administrators and Practitioners Meeting (TMAP)-Berlin, Germany
  • September 25‒26: European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights plenary session-Alicante, Spain
  • October 31: Brexit date (though a further extension is still possible)
  • November 1: Start of the mandate of the new EU Commission (2019‒2024)
  • November 25‒29: European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights working groups and expert groups meetings-Alicante, Spain
  • December 1: Election of the new President of the European Council
  • December 5: European Commission public hearing with stakeholders on the Designs Reform-Brussels, Belgium

INTA’s Europe Representative Office, based in Brussels, Belgium, represents the Association’s 1,800+ members across Europe (including those in EU and non-EU member states, and Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States). Working in collaboration with staff at INTA’s headquarters in New York City, the Europe Representative Office leads the Association’s policy, membership, marketing, and communications initiatives throughout the region. To learn more about INTA’s activities in Europe, please contact INTA Chief Europe Representative Officer Hélène Nicora at [email protected] and follow us on Twitter at @INTABrussels.

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.

© 2019 International Trademark Association