INTA and Georgia IP Office Hold Policy Dialogue on Online Counterfeiting

Published: April 6, 2022

INTA’s Anticounterfeiting Committee in cooperation with the National Intellectual Property Center of Georgia (Sakpatenti) on March 15 conducted their second policy dialogue on online counterfeiting. The meeting marked the continuation of a successful and productive collaboration between both parties, which held their first policy dialogue, “Counterfeiting in the Wake of COVID-19,” in May 2020.

Attending the virtual meeting were INTA committee members; representatives of Sakpatenti, global and Georgian online marketplaces, and the Georgian Bar Association; and representatives of local authorities, such as the Revenue Service of the Ministry of Finance and the Georgian National Communications Commission. Sakpatenti Deputy Chairperson Nino Chikovani and INTA Anticounterfeiting Senior Advisor Valentina Salmoiraghi delivered welcome addresses to the 30 participants.

George Taktakishvili, chairman of the Georgian Bar Association’s Intellectual Property Committee, provided insight on online counterfeiting challenges in Georgia from the perspective of local rights holders who are frustrated in trying to enforce their trademarks in the online and offline space. According to Mr. Taktakishvili, the main issues include the lack of effective anticounterfeiting brand protection policies by local online platforms and the online sale of counterfeit goods through personal webpages or social media, which makes it impossible to identify sellers.

INTA’s Anticounterfeiting Committee Vice Chair Tara Steketee (Merck and Co., Inc. USA) shared her experience as a representative of a global brand and offered best practices in fighting online counterfeiting.

The policy dialogue concluded with a panel discussion that included the previous speakers as well as Ekaterina Alybina, who works in the Brand Protection Department at global online platform Aliexpress, and Benedetta Raboni (Fendi SRL, Italy), a member of INTA’s Anticounterfeiting Committee. They discussed how to tackle online counterfeiting in their respective fields and shared international best practices and the tools available in the online space.

While Ms. Alybina, a senior lawyer, emphasized that having a robust brand protection policy is important for a company’s reputation, she also stated that it serves to protect the interests of consumers.

Dmitry Markanov, chair of INTA’s Anticounterfeiting Committee, Eastern Europe and Central Asia Subcommittee, pointed out that the problem of counterfeiting is getting more acute, especially in light of the recent conflict in the region. He said rights holders must intensify their efforts to fight violations more than ever before, also considering the rising problem of the possible legalization of parallel imports in Russia.

Ms. Chikovani informed the audience that Sakpatenti is currently working on amendments to both the Trademark Law of Georgia and the Design Law of Georgia with the aim of reaching full harmonization of intellectual property (IP) laws with EU legislation. One step toward this was reached with the ratification of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, which is the part of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement (2016).

Currently, within the EU-Georgia Intellectual Property Project (EUGIPP), a gap analysis is being performed for Georgia to fully harmonize its IP legislation with the relevant EU legislation. After completing the required domestic legislative procedures, Sakpatenti plans to propose these legal amendments to EUGIPP for consideration to the Georgian Parliament.

INTA and Sakpatenti plan to continue organizing similar IP policy dialogues in the future.

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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