Awareness, info sharing at heart of EUIPO illicit trade plans

The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) has released its work programme for 2017, with a slew of initiatives in the fight against counterfeiting and piracy.

One of the six action plans in the document covers efforts to strengthen the IP system, says the just-published report. Efforts are being made to improve IP education and awareness – particularly among younger people – and a pilot will be run to assist enforcers to scan bar codes and access information concerning the goods and associated IP rights from mobile devices.

The EUIPO says it will continue financing the activities of the Europol IP Crime Coordination Centre meant to increase information gathering and monitor trends in the field of online IP crime and related areas. The Office will also collect relevant jurisprudence related to enforcement of IP rights rendered at national level in the EU member states.

2017 will also see the implementation of the Anti-counterfeiting Rapid Intelligence System (ACRIS), a tool intended to help rights holders and enforcement agencies to press their rights abroad. It takes the form of a database that allows EU-based companies to report - in a structured format - information about IP infringements and follow-up by local authorities in countries outside of the EU.

Meanwhile, additional Observatory studies examining the economic impact of IP infringements on particular product categories will be published, in particular a study of counterfeit smartphones.

It will also conduct research on the valuation of trademarks, which will help develop a methodology for valuing a company's trademark portfolio, and further joint studies with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) are planned for 2017, focusing on the online trade of counterfeit goods and the role of Free Trade Zones (FTZs) in illicit trade.

The EUIPO says that in the digital world, it wants to help consumers to better differentiate legitimate from infringing websites – pointing to research showing that 6 per cent of interviewed citizens reported purchasing counterfeit goods as a result of being misled over a 12-month period. For example, a new tool called agorateka, designed to help consumers find legal online creative content, will be deployed to further EU countries over the course of the year.

The annual work programme update is part of the EUIPO's Strategic Plan 2020, which was published in July last year.

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