INTA Undertakes a Multilateral Approach in Europe to Combat Counterfeiting

Published: October 13, 2021

INTA believes that because counterfeiting is a multisectoral phenomenon, the Association’s approach to tackling it should follow along and be multilateral. Therefore, INTA has been continuing to participate in several forums in Europe, such as the annual plenary meeting of the European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights, and the EUIPO in discussions in non-EU countries, such as Russia and Kazakhstan.

In addition, the Association recently weighed in on the configuration of upcoming relevant regulations, including the EU Toolbox against Counterfeiting, as well as on regulations at a more advanced phase, such as the revision of the General Product Safety Directive (GPSD), and the Directive on Security of Network and Information Systems (NIS2).

At the Observatory plenary meeting, held on September 29 and 30, representatives of the public and private sectors pointed to the recent inclusion of intellectual property (IP) crimes and counterfeiting in the European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats (EMPACT). INTA was among the main actors that strongly advocated for their inclusion as a priority in EUROPOL’s 2022‒2025 policy cycle.

At the meeting, INTA’s Chief Representative Officer, Hélène Nicora, put forward several proposals for the future, including recommending more brand identification training and capacity building workshops with stakeholders (as INTA has continued to do virtually during the pandemic). Regarding online counterfeiting, INTA’s best practices could play a vital role for all private stakeholders given that, thanks to having both brand owners and platforms and other stakeholders as members, INTA’s perspective covers all sides.

Among additional measures, INTA stressed, once again, the importance of reinforcing consumer awareness; a focus on data sharing between customers and brand owners to target counterfeit shipments; and the creation of an IP Rights Coordination Center at the national level. It also highlighted the links between counterfeits and product safety.

INTA wants to ensure not only that the inclusion of IP crimes and counterfeiting in EMPACT is as beneficial as possible, but also that they are included again in the next cycle. The challenge will be to provide concrete evidence of the impact of IP crimes and counterfeiting during this cycle, including collecting data that builds an appealing narrative, complemented by a solid communication strategy about its success.

At the EU regulatory level, the European Commission and EUIPO have been holding a series of dialogues on the draft Toolbox against Counterfeiting. They have invited INTA and other key stakeholders to participate in the workshops on the various areas it will affect, such as Domain Name Services and social media.

In relation to the latter, INTA recommended the inclusion of tools to fight the new trend of counterfeiters approaching consumers based on the groups, accounts, or hashtags they are following, as well as to reinforce some already detected key actions, such as information sharing among member states and cooperation with intermediaries.

At a stakeholder dialogue held on September 14, the Association emphasized some proposals to achieve greater awareness and dissemination, for instance, offering a basic toolkit at a reduced price to IP rights holders or having the Observatory organize anticounterfeiting competitions similar to Blockathon (an anticounterfeiting blockchain contest).

INTA favors the inclusion of anticounterfeiting provisions in non-intrinsically counterfeiting regulations to address all possible areas and perspectives. In this regard, the Association is advocating for the revision of the GPSD to include counterfeit goods in its scope, on the basis that all counterfeit products are inherently unsafe since they do not comply with existing EU health and safety regulations. INTA submitted its input to the European Commission’s public consultation on October 1, reflecting on the connection between counterfeits and product safety that was presented at the Observatory meeting.

Accordingly, in the NIS2 Directive, INTA, in a written policy statement, suggested the importance of recognizing the existing link between IP rights infringements and cyberattacks, as well as the need to have access to verified, accurate, and accessible domain name registration data to investigate counterfeiters and cybercriminals.

To ensure that the scope of action covers the entire European continent, INTA will also be holding forums dealing with anticounterfeiting in non-EU countries. This includes an upcoming cross-border event in Kazakhstan and the “Anticounterfeit & IP Forum 2021” in Russia, which will address myriad anticounterfeiting issues, such as trends, public and youth awareness, and law enforcement.

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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