On the last October 9th, 2018, the Council of Ministers endorsed a new Customs Action Plan to Combat Intellectual Property rights Infringements for the Years 2018 to 2022.
The aim pursued by the Council consists in putting into effects solid measures in order to fight against the economic and reputational damage of Intellectual Property rights infringements to businesses and the risks counterfeit goods may create for consumers, as well as to strive for a high level of protection of the EU internal market through modernisation of customs controls.
Even if the implementation of the Action Plan 2013-2017, focused on the effective application of the Regulation (EU) No 608/2013, has a healthy economic balance sheet (i.e. in 2016, the customs enforcement in the EU resulted in over 41 million articles detained with EUR 672 million of estimated damages), the Council ascertains that the Intellectual Property rights infringements remain an increasing threat for the rights holders and consumers, particularly taking into account that the increase of counterfeit goods online sales hampers the action of customs services.
In this regard, the Council sets the following objectives for the new Action Plan:
(i) Ensuring effective customs enforcement of IPR throughout the Union.
(ii) Tackling major trends in trade of IPR infringing goods.
(iii) Tackling trade of IPR infringing goods throughout the international supply chain.
(iv) Strengthening cooperation with the European Observatory on infringements of IPRs and law enforcement authorities.
Among the proposed measures, the use of blockchain in order to strengthen e-commerce enforcement by customs services is notable for its innovative nature. On the other hand, reinforcement of customs cooperation on Intellectual property rights with third countries (in particular China and Hong Kong), as well as the exchange of information with third countries, including on goods in transit/transshipment across the EU, with a view to eliminating international trade in goods infringing intellectual property rights, are also provided.
The EU Commission shall prepare, in co-operation with Member States, a roadmap by spring 2019 to facilitate the implementation of the Action Plan.
To be continued…