Next Steps for European Union Data Protection and Global Enforcement

Published: July 15, 2018

The May 25 deadline for the implementation of the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has come and gone. Since then, brand owners and IP professionals are struggling with restricted WHOIS data access in light of fallout from the GDPR. To support them, the WHOIS/RDS Subcommittee of INTA’s Internet Committee has prepared a helpful Toolkit for IP Professionals which “suggests ways to meet [IP] enforcement challenges in a landscape where most WHOIS registrant data is redacted” and provides “tips to assist with investigation of IP infringement, identification of the registrant, and enforcement of rights.”

Moreover, INTA wants to hear from its members how these new policies are affecting them. INTA set up a dedicated mailbox at [email protected] for members to share their stories and solutions and to report any problems obtaining a registrant’s information from registrars or registries.

Christian Archambeau Recommended as Next EUIPO Executive Director

On July 13, the Committee of Permanent Representatives in the European Union (COREPER) voted to recommend that the Council of the European Union appoint Christian Archambeau as Executive Director of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). The appointment is expected to be formalized in an upcoming Council meeting. Mr. Archambeau, current Acting Executive Director of the EUIPO, will succeed António Campinos, who began his five-year term as President of the European Patent Office (EPO) on July 1, 2018.

Christian Archambeau has a long record of experience in intellectual property and with the EUIPO, having joined the Office, which, at the time, was still known as the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM), as its Vice President in 2010. Before joining the organization, Mr. Archambeau served as Principal Director of Human Resources at the EPO, where he worked since 2002.

INTA congratulates Mr. Archambeau on this achievement and looks forward to continuing its close and cooperative relationship with the EUIPO under his leadership.

INTA strongly encourages members to use this address to report issues and help INTA better refine its advocacy strategy based on concrete and practical examples.

Brexit: Uncertainty over UK Position in Negotiations Following Unexpected Resignations Within the UK Cabinet
Brexit-another hot topic in Brussels-has recently seen concerning developments. On the one hand, the sky seemed to be clearing for Prime Minister Theresa May on the UK national stage with the adoption of the EU Withdrawal Act by the UK Parliament on June 26. This Act enables EU law to be transferred into UK law in order to ensure a smooth break from the EU. While several Members of Parliament, including within the Tory majority, successfully pushed for Parliament to have a final say (a “meaningful vote”) on the Brexit agreement, their amendment was ultimately defeated and Ms. May managed to keep her government authority untouched. While this victory seemed to have provided Ms. May with unconstrained powers to further negotiate with the EU side, the unexpected resignation of Brexit Minister David Davis-as he believes the current status leaves the UK “in a weak position” with regard to negotiations-followed by the resignation of pro-Brexit Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on July 9, came as a shock. These resignations strengthen the divide within Ms. May’s government and puts its future in jeopardy, as snap elections appear more and more likely.

On the other hand, clouds are still looming regarding the UK position on the Brexit agreement and post-Brexit relationship with the EU. While many hoped the June 28‒29 EU Summit would offer at least some breakthroughs, even though the meeting was overshadowed by the migration crisis, these hopes were ultimately shattered: EU27 leaders are expecting Ms. May to produce a concrete set of proposals on what she expects from the Brexit agreement on several issues (notably, the “future relationship” and the Republic of Ireland-Northern Ireland border). As President of the Council of the European Union, Donald Tusk stressed, “there is a great deal of work ahead, and the most difficult tasks are still unresolved. If we want to reach a deal in October we need quick progress. This is the last call to lay the cards on the table.”

INTA continues to monitor the situation. After publishing its position paper in November 2017, and holding several meetings with the EU and UK authorities, respectively, the Association is now focused on further developing its position on certain issues (notably, exhaustion of rights and international registration).

For the latest updates and more on Brexit, including INTA’s Brands Brexit Toolkit, visit INTA’s dedicated webpage.

EU Blockathon: First Event Dedicated to How Blockchain Technology Can Help Fight Counterfeiting
In the heart of Brussels, INTA Europe Office Chief Representative Officer Hélène Nicora and Policy Officer Hadrien Valembois attended the EU Commission and EU Observatory’s first-ever EU Blockathon: a competition among 11 teams, from June 22 to 25, to propose a blockchain-based system and solutions to fight counterfeiting. The teams competing were working directly with manufacturers, logistics companies, customs, retailers, and consumers.

During the opening ceremony, the EU Commission’s DG GROW Director-General, Lowri Evans stressed that blockchain specialists need to develop systems to authenticate products and that customs officers need to have real time means to detect counterfeits entering the supply chain in order to help the IP rights holders protect their legitimate assets. On his end, EUIPO Deputy Executive Director Christian Archambeau reminded attendees that while there is a vast demand for IP rights protection for new innovative sectors such as artificial intelligence, robotics, 3D printing, and blockchain, “counterfeiting is a plague and is on the increase. During the closing ceremony, the EU Commission’s Vice-President in charge of the Digital Single Market, Andrus Ansip, highlighted that one of the Commission’s roles is “to protect creators” as well as consumers, adding that there is a need to “focus much more attention to IPRs.”

The event was also marked by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Online Advertising and Intellectual Property Rights. This voluntary agreement, under the aegis of the European Commission, was signed by approximately 20‒30 representatives of the advertising industry, advertisers, rights holders, and technology providers. All signatories have committed to minimize the placement of advertising on websites and mobile applications, which are known to infringe copyright or disseminate counterfeit goods.

High-Level Meetings with the European Commission to Defend Brand Owners
On July 5 and 6, INTA CEO Etienne Sanz de Acedo and INTA Europe Office met with high-level representatives from several Directorates of the European Commission to exchange information on IP rights protection outside the EU, the EU’s strategy on IP, protection of small and medium-sized enterprises and incentives for innovation, and tools to fight counterfeiting, including the Anticounterfeiting Committee’s Best Practices for Addressing the Sale of Counterfeits on the Internet.

INTA High-Level Visit to Italy
On July 12, Mr. Sanz de Acedo and Ms. Nicora flew to Rome, Italy, to meet with the Italian Patent and Trademark Office (UIBM), together with Italian members Marie-Laure Bonnaffous (Fendi, Italy), who is a member of the INTA Board of Directors; Laurence Morel-Chevillet (Bulgari, Italy); and Elio de Tullio ( De Tullio & Partners, Italy) to finalize a new MOU with the UIBM. The MOU focuses on anticounterfeiting-related projects in Italy.

Ms. Nicora made a stop in Milan to attend an INTA Anticounterfeiting Committee-led policy dialogue on online counterfeiting, jointly organized with the UIBM and Istituto di Centromarca per la lotta alla contraffazione (INDICAM), featuring speakers from government, brand-owner, and Internet service provider sectors. Ms. Nicora also took the opportunity to meet with current and prospective corporate members in Milan.

INTA Co-Signs Paper with ECTA and MARQUES on Designs in the EU
On July 9, INTA’s Europe Office, together with the European Communities Trade Mark Association (ECTA) and the Association of European Trade Mark Owners (MARQUES), submitted a joint position paper on the EU design protection system to the European Commission.

The EU design protection system is made up of a Regulation (Regulation 6/2002 of December 12, 2001, on Community designs) that introduced the Registered Community Design and Unregistered Community Design Right into EU law and a Directive (Directive (EC) 98/71 of October 13, 1998, on the legal protection of designs), which harmonized design law across the EU member states.

Some 15 years since the entry into force of this legal framework, the joint paper submitted by ECTA, MARQUES, and INTA addresses those aspects that require some reflection and correction. The three associations hope that their common position assists the European Commission in the context of the recently launched evaluation of the EU legislation on design protection.

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. Law & Practice updates are published without comment from INTA except where it has taken an official position.

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