Intellectual property rights are one of the driving forces of innovation and creativity and a key contributor to competitiveness and employment; the enforcement of intellectual property rights plays a significant role in ensuring consumers’ health and safety; counterfeiting is generally linked with a black economy and organised crime, through financial contributions.
There is a significant level of unawareness, especially among young people throughout the EU, regarding the potential consequences of IPR infringements on the European economy and on the general safety of citizens.
Believes that all actors in the supply chain have a role to play in the fight against IPR infringement and should be involved in this process; stresses that an approach in both an online and offline context should be developed by all actors in a comprehensive, collaborative and transparent manner.
Believes that applying due diligence throughout the supply chain and enhanced market surveillance and information sharing between customs authorities would improve the business environment and contribute to preventing infringing goods from entering the market; stresses that the cost-benefit ratio and effectiveness of any qualitative auditing schemes should be well assessed before being pursued and that providing support to SMEs should be a strong consideration in that respect.
Welcomes the approach taken by the Commission to develop targeted awareness campaigns; believes that it is essential that the concrete consequences of IPR infringements for society as a whole and for consumers and citizens individually should be understood by all; believes that consumers should be better informed of what IPR consists of, its important contribution to jobs in the European Union , what can be done or not done with protected goods and content and the effects of IPR infringements on criminal activity; calls on the Commission and the Member States to work with the European Observatory on Infringements of IPRs to further develop awareness actions aimed at specific audiences and relevant markets.
Believes at the same time that consumer information, including information about obligations, should be enhanced so consumers are better able to identify infringing offers so that they can decide not to proceed with a given purchase; deplores the fact that the Commission’s action plan does not include any action designed to improve consumers’ ability to identify infringing goods and contents, and calls on the Commission to reflect further on the development of specific tools, including labelling, based on the experiences gathered by the Commission and the European Observatory on Infringements of IPRs, especially with regard to the sharing of best practices.
Believes that it can be difficult to deter consumers from buying unlawful goods or using unlawful content and that this can be due to a lack of consumer awareness about legal offers in addition to a lack of supply.
Reiterates its call for a comprehensive IPR strategy, including a complete and strong legal framework to combat counterfeiting and piracy adapted to the online environment; calls on the Commission to take into account the IPR and copyright reform initiative concerning Directive 2001/29/EC, with special attention to territoriality, licensing and the digital context.
Calls for enhanced market surveillance, risk management and sharing of information among customs authorities on issues raised in the context of IPR enforcement by customs, for example, in relation to the storage and destruction of infringing goods. Calls on the Commission to consider proposing OHIM’s budgetary surplus or a significant part thereof, to be allocated to the support of training initiatives of national customs authorities to further strengthen and improve the IPR enforcement mechanism.