By Allen Dixon, CREATe.org IP Counsel
Fake products and components are a growing menace in Europe. In 2012 alone, EU border control agencies logged 90,000 cases of goods suspected of violating intellectual property (IP) rights including trademarks and copyrights. That is three times the number of fakes found in 2005!
The European Commission announced recently that it would be working with EU member governments, the European Parliament and the private sector on a 10-point action plan to do more about the counterfeiting problem, with the overall aim “to re-orientate our policy toward better compliance with intellectual property rights by the private sector.”
One of the key components of this action plan is to encourage better supply chain compliance with IP requirements: “promoting due-diligence among all actors involved in production of goods with a high degree of intellectual property, since responsible supply chain auditing and application of due diligence reduces the risk of IP infringements.”
Among the 10 specific elements of its action plan, the Commission will undertake consultations on the use of due-diligence in private-sector supply chains, and possibly develop a voluntary EU due-diligence scheme as a way of discouraging commercial-scale IP infringements. It also plans to develop best practices for public authorities to avoid purchasing counterfeit products.
As CREATe.org’s work in this area to date has shown, supply chain compliance and other collaborative efforts to address IP infringement are growing areas of focus not only among industry but also among governments in the EU and worldwide. Algirdas Šemeta, the EU Commissioner for Customs, explained, “Effective IPR enforcement must be underpinned by close cooperation amongst enforcement authorities, and between those authorities and business stakeholders. This is essential both within the EU and with our international partners.”
The stakes are high for getting this right!