EU Commission Consultation on Enforcement of IP Rights

January 12, 2011

The EC’s public consultation into the success or otherwise of its 2004 Directive on Enforcement of Intellectual Property (IP) rights was launched on 11 January. The focus appears to be improving protection for digital businesses. The consultation aims to identify what elements of the harmonisation of IP enforcement have worked well and what can be improved. It follows on from the detailed report from the EU Commission dated 22 December. That report included the following comment ‘despite an overall improvement of enforcement procedures, the sheer volume and financial value of intellectual property rights infringements are alarming. One reason is the unprecedented increase in opportunities to infringe intellectual property rights offered by the Internet. The Directive was not designed with this challenge in mind’. Clearly major change will follow.

Douglas Peden, a senior associate specialising in IP and technology law at Osborne Clarke, comments:

‘The Commission’s decision to go to public consultation definitely hits the nail on the head, as the 2004 Directive was drafted before the internet had developed into the essential tool it now is. There are many ways for online IP to be mis-used, such as copying content, improper use of adwords and by trade mark infringement and passing off. The current enforcement landscape enables IP owners to take action but this can sometimes be clunky and akin to a sledgehammer cracking a nut. Streamlined procedures, to promote swift and cost effective enforcement throughout the EU, would be the ideal outcome of this consultation. I would urge anybody who owns IP, especially online, to make their voice heard as part of this process.”

Please click here to view the EC web page on the consultation.