From Teens to Trademark Officials, Boosting INTA’s Ties Across Europe
Published: September 15, 2018
With summer ending, activity has resumed quickly in Brussels.
Brexit Talks Resume
There are only seven months left before Brexit occurs. On this topic, the European Union (EU) and United Kingdom (UK) held two rounds of talks in the second part of August.
While the UK’s stated objective remains to reach a deal with the EU on priority before March 29, 2019, and “it remains the most likely outcome,” the UK’s new Brexit Minister, Dominic Raab, said in an address at the UK Parliament that the government was also working on a “no-deal” contingency plan. Indeed, on August 23, the government published 25 technical notices, intended to “inform people, businesses and stakeholders about steps they need to take in the event of a ‘no deal’ scenario.” Others are expected throughout September.
For intellectual property (IP), there is no such technical notice at this stage. On July 23, the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) nonetheless updated its “IP and BREXIT: The facts” page, including, for the first time, statements about its intentions regarding continued protection of rights (specifically in the case of a “no-deal” scenario). On enforcement, the UKIPO stresses that it will “establish an approach to enforcement cooperation that best suits the needs of the UK and EU and facilitates frictionless trade in goods to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. This may involve sharing information and research on IP rights (IPR) enforcement, working closely with the EU Observatory on the infringement of IP Rights.” It seems that the UK has not yet made its final decision regarding geographical indication protection, and INTA believes this will be used as negotiation ammunition with the EU.
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 has further developed recommendations on exhaustion and international registration, sent to the EU and UK authorities in July, and aims to develop further arguments on other issues key to brand owners.
The Unreal Campaign Visits WIPO
INTA had the unique opportunity to have been invited by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to host an Unreal Campaign booth in WIPO’s exhibition hall during the WIPO Advisory Committee on Enforcement (ACE), held in Geneva from September 3 through 5.
INTA Geneva Representative Bruno Machado and Europe Representative Office Policy Officer Hadrien Valembois attended the ACE meeting and represented INTA during the session and at the booth.
This provided an opportunity for INTA to promote its Unreal Campaign, which targets teenagers, ages 14‒18, and raising awareness on the dangers of counterfeiting. At the same time, the ACE session dedicated a panel to “Awareness-building Activities and Strategic Campaigns as a Means for Building Respect for IP.” During that session, Mr. Machado made a brief intervention supporting WIPO’s work on raising awareness among youth regarding IP matters and provided an introduction of INTA’s Unreal Campaign.
The nature of the WIPO Advisory Committee is merely consultative; no “norm-setting” activities were discussed. Among the interventions, Natalia Zebrowska, Policy and Legal Officer at the IP Unit at DG GROW (European Commission), provided an overview of the “Industry-led Efforts to Reduce Intellectual Property Infringements” in the EU. Her presentation focused on the Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) facilitated by the Commission on online counterfeiting and online advertising, which are two voluntary agreements between rights holders and online actors. She notably stressed the need for “a solid legislative framework,” mentioning, for the EU, Directive 2004/48/EC on the enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPRED) and the E-Commerce Directive (2000), while highlighting that “not everything can and should be tackled by legislative instruments,” which necessitates mechanisms such as MoUs. She pointed out that the legal framework is important and, without it, voluntary cooperation agreements would not work. This appears in line with the Commission’s intention not to review the legislative framework under this mandate, but rather to focus on voluntary agreements, for the moment.
INTA Strengthens Ties with Business Europe
On September 3, INTA Europe Office Policy Officer Carolina Oliveira attended Business Europe’s meeting on the scope of the Hague Convention on Foreign Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters. The aim of the meeting was to discuss the latest paper on IP produced by the Hague Secretariat with Business Europe members and the European Commission negotiating team. INTA continues advocating for the inclusion of trademark judgments in the scope of the Convention.
On September 5, Ms. Oliveira attended Business Europe’s “Trademarks and Designs” Working Group meeting in Brussels. This was an opportunity for INTA to explain its latest recommendations on a potential review of the EU designs system, jointly prepared with the Association of European Trade Mark Owners (MARQUES) and the European Communities Trade Mark Association (ECTA).
Updates on EUIPO Cooperation Projects
On September 10, INTA Trademark Office Practices-EUIPO Subcommittee Chair Bénédicte Linden (Linden Legal Consulting, Belgium) and Chief Representative Officer, Europe Hélène Nicora attended with other user associations a meeting organized by the EUIPO on its cooperation projects. These projects are aimed at enhancing convergence of practices between the EUIPO and national EU offices, and are defined and implemented by working groups composed of private stakeholders, the EUIPO, and national offices. INTA is the most involved private stakeholder in terms of the number of working groups in which it participates. In particular, INTA will start working on a new cooperation project related to the EU offices’ handling of nontraditional marks, a new feature introduced by the EU trademark reform and very important to brand owners.
Renewing Cooperation with Law Students
On August 16, Milesh Gordhandas, Advisor-INTA Europe Office, met with Filipe Machado, the new President of the European Law Students Association (ELSA). The meeting was an opportunity to introduce INTA, with a focus on INTA’s academic activities and cooperation with ELSA, which dates back to 2008. As part of this cooperation, INTA member volunteers have given presentations to law students about trademark law and career options in the field; ELSA members have attended INTA’s educational events and were given the chance to learn and network with practitioners; and INTA has promoted its academic activities to ELSA members. INTA and ELSA will continue with this cooperation in the future.
Coming Soon: Focus on the European Observatory
The European Observatory on IPR infringements will be at the core of the Europe Representative Office’s work in September. First, INTA is preparing comments on the Observatory’s Multiannual Plan extension and Work Program for 2019. The question of the restructuring of the Observatory’s working groups (from five currently, to nine) and the access of user associations to them (currently, INTA is in all five) will be at the center of INTA’s comments.
Second, INTA is also providing input to the European Commission’s first-ever consultation on the evaluation of the Observatory.
Finally, Ms. Nicora will represent INTA at the Observatory’s plenary session in Alicante, Spain, which is being held September 26‒27, and where the above topics will be discussed.
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. Law & Practice updates are published without comment from INTA except where it has taken an official position.
© 2018 International Trademark Association
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