EU’s version of US Notorious Markets list calls for submissions

The European Commission is calling for submissions outlining non-EU marketplaces that engage in or facilitate intellectual property right infringements for its first Counterfeit and Piracy Watch-List.

Similar in scope to the US Trade Representative’s annual Special 301 Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets report, the EU Watch-List aims to identify the online and physical marketplaces outside the EU where counterfeiting, piracy or other forms of intellectual property abuse are “common practice”, the EC said in a statement.

“IPR infringements, and in particular commercial-scale counterfeiting and piracy, cause significant economic losses for rightsholders and legitimate businesses, as well as those whose employment depends on such businesses,” the EC said. “These infringements undermine the European Union’s comparative advantages in innovation and creativity to the detriment of EU citizens and pose significant risks to consumer health and safety, as well as the environment… [and] also seriously harm European business trading outside the European Union, including the damage caused to geographical indications.”

The publication of the watch-list, the first of which is expected later this year, would help raise consumer awareness and encourage marketplaces, local authorities and governments “to take the necessary actions and measures to reduce the availability of IPR infringing goods or services”, the EC added.

News the EC would draw up a watch-list was first announced in November last year, and is part of the Commission’s broader framework for the enforcement of intellectual property rights.

According to the EC, the EU trade in counterfeit and pirated goods accounts for 5 per cent of all imports, equivalent to €85bn a year, with China being the number one country spearheading the illicit trade.

The EC said the list will be pulled together on the basis of input from stakeholders and has now called for detailed submissions and supporting documents.

For each marketplace, the Commission has requested information including: the popularity of the identified marketplace and its reach; the estimated number and scale of counterfeits and pirated goods offered; the main categories of the infringing goods and the European rightsholders most affected; the estimated economic harm to legitimate rightsholders; the potential risks and any known evidence of damage to public health, safety and the environment; any known enforcement activity against the marketplace and its outcome; and any measures taken by the owner or operator of the marketplace to reduce, prevent and address counterfeiting and piracy, and the effectiveness of these policies.

The information will be thoroughly verified and will be updated regularly, the EC said.

The Commission will also monitor the measures taken by local authorities in relation to the listed marketplaces, as well as those taken by marketplaces themselves, to reduce the availability of goods and services infringing intellectual property rights.

“The owners and operators of these marketplaces will be urged to adopt business models that rely on the licensed distribution of legitimate content and products, and to work with rights-holders and enforcement officials to address infringements,” the EC said.

The Commission added: “The responsible government authorities will be also expected to intensify their efforts to investigate reports of IPR infringements in such marketplaces, and to pursue appropriate enforcement actions if needed.” Although, it noted the watch list would not reflect the EU’s analysis of the general intellectual property rights protection and enforcement climate in specific countries, nor would it reflect findings of legal violations.

The EC is calling for written contributions identifying infringing marketplaces for inclusion in the watch list to be submitted by 31 March.

Submissions can be made here.

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