Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The European Union’s ‘ContraFake’ policy


Counterfeiting, which represents 5 to 7% of world trade, has implications on the competitiveness of EU companies, on jobs and on the health and security of EU citizens. László Kovác, European Commissioner in charge of Taxation and Customs Union, states his vision on the fight against counterfeiting as follows. ‘Customs have a vital role to play, as they intercept some 70% of all the counterfeited products seized worldwide. A successful action depends very much on collective efforts, work with other law enforcement bodies and the private sector is essential. Moreover, cooperation with the countries of origin of counterfeited goods will also be important in this context.'


ConfraFake 2009

The European Commission's conference "ContraFake 2009" will be held on April 2th 2009 in Brussels. This annual high Level Conference on Counterfeiting and Piracy will again consider the growing problem of counterfeiting and piracy, but will be focused more on planned efforts to combat the problem, in particular the European Counterfeiting and Piracy Observatory. For more information regarding the conference see the European Commissions website on this subject.


Counterfeiting and anti-piracy measures
The European Commission, other EU institutions and EU Member States are fighting counterfeit on various fronts. The latest successful initiatives in this respect are the EU-coordinated action "MEDI-FAKE", and an EU-US joint customs operation called "INFRASTRUCTURE". At a more strategic level an Action Plan (COM(2001)254 final) was proposed by the Commission in 2005 to combat the constantly evolving phenomenon of counterfeiting more effectively.

Within the EU, the Enforcement Directive 2004/48/EC is the cornerstone piece of legislation in the fight against counterfeiting and piracy. It aims to harmonise the civil laws of the Member States by means of enforcing intellectual property rights (via sanctions and remedies). The Directive covers infringements of all intellectual property rights (trade marks, designs, patents, copyright etc.) for commercial purposes or which cause significant harm to rightholders. The Directive also contains the necessary safeguards and limitations to protect the interests of not only the defendant but also of potentially innocent offenders, who have unknowingly been involved in counterfeiting or piracy.

Concerning criminal sanctions, the Commission has adopted a proposal for a Directive and for a Framework Decision on intellectual property infringements. The measures proposed are aimed at approximating the Member States' criminal legislation on combating infringements of intellectual property rights (counterfeiting and piracy).

Concerning customs cooperation, the EU customs legislation was modernised in 2004. The new regime sets out clear conditions under which the customs authorities may intervene in cases where goods are suspected of infringing intellectual property rights. The regulatory framework for the enforcement on border measures is contained in the European Community (EC) Regulation 1383/2003 (Customs Actions against goods suspected of infringing intellectual property rights), and its implementation in EC Regulation 1891/2004. Their practical application depends upon the national rules and procedures of the Member States.



The peace palace library would like to recommend the book ‘Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights through Border Measures’ by O. Vrins & M. Schneider (ed.). The book is a practical guide on anti-counterfeiting and anti-piracy measures at the borders of the enlarged European Community. It deals with all aspects of ‘border measures’ under Regulation (EC) 1383/2003. As well as providing a thorough description of the implementation of the new regime, the publication also ‘fills in the gaps’ by including areas of national law, and provides an ambitious ‘snapshot’ of the application of the current regime of border measures in place within the European Union. This manual is the very first English language publication dealing with the practical application of Regulation 1383/2003 in all 25 Member Countries of the European Community. See for book reviews WIPO Magazine 4/2006 p.17 and Journal of Intellectual Property Law and Practice, Oxford University Press, 2006, Vol 1, N° 8.

Use European Union and counterfeiting for more books and articles on this subject in the Peace Palace Library.

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