Eye on Europe: INTA’s 2022 Policy Priorities and Key Activities

Published: January 19, 2022

INTA will be providing valuable input into important legislative and regulatory issues in Europe in the year ahead.

In the European Union, INTA will turn its attention to both 2021 developments that are still pending at different stages and to new intellectual property (IP) issues this year. Additionally, INTA remains engaged in the progress of the Brexit negotiations, as some important points are yet to be resolved.

Issues that started their legislative process in 2021 include the NIS 2 Directive, the Digital Services Act (DSA), and the General Product Safety Regulation (GPSR). Issues that will commence this year include the Review of the EU Designs, the Revision on Agricultural Geographical Indications (GIs), the Protection of Non-Agri GIs, and the EU Toolbox Against Counterfeiting.

A number of the new EU issues related to IP derive directly from the IP Action Plan published in November 2020. Although the European Commission (EC) has yet to publish initial draft proposals, INTA has already been actively involved, collaborating and proposing input in advance of their release.

Regarding the Review of the EU Designs, for example, the Association submitted joint comments with other allied stakeholders to the Inception Impact Assessment as well as to the subsequent EC Public Consultation.

The main recommendations include having clear definitions and wording to avoid ambiguities; making eligible for design protection graphical user interfaces, animated designs, and icons; and revising legislation to properly fight design-infringing goods in transit.

Similarly, in relation to the upcoming GI regulations, that is, the Revision on Agricultural GIs and the Protection of Non-Agri GIs, INTA presented its recommendations in the Roadmap to the IP Action Plan and following EC Public Consultations. The Association advocated that any GI system must have effective and transparent mechanisms for addressing applications for amendments and cancellation, and effective opposition, cancellation, and notification procedures that recognize pre-existing trademark rights with which GIs might conflict.

Once the process progresses and the EC publishes the initial draft of these documents, INTA will analyze them in detail and provide even more precise recommendations to the relevant stakeholders of the European Parliament (Members of the European Parliament of the main and opinion committees, as well to those concerned by the topic), and the Council of the EU (IP attachés of the permanent representations, as well as national IP offices).

Among proposals in the more initial phases, INTA is keeping close track of the EU Toolbox Against Counterfeiting. INTA representatives presented recommendations at the various workshops held by the EC for main stakeholders. Additional workshops are expected in 2022, and INTA’s Anticounterfeiting Committee will expand on its recommendations as issues evolve. No doubt 2022 will be a key year for several EU initiatives to complete the legislative process. Although the overall substance of the issues may not be directly related to IP, the initiatives will impact brand owners. Examples include the DSA in updating the e-Commerce Directive and promoting online transparency; the NIS 2 Directive, which could be critical to allowing access to accurate data of IP infringers online; and the GPSR, where INTA argues that all counterfeit products are inherently unsafe because they do not comply with any EU health and safety regulations.

INTA will continue to monitor and follow up with relevant stakeholders to ensure that the Association’s input is reflected in the final legislation.

Importantly, the Brexit negotiations and issues surrounding them remain open and are even proliferating. This is evidenced by the new EU-UK Parliamentary Partnership Assembly recently created by the European Parliament. INTA will continue to look for opportunities to advocate on behalf of its members.

Finally, INTA will continue to study and propose collaborative activities between the national IP Offices in Europe and the EUIPO by participating in EUIPO’s various European cooperation projects, the EU Observatory, and various special issue Working Groups.

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

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