Thursday, July 10, 2008

EU study on counterfeiting and piracy

The EU Parliament recently published an interesting study, The Fight Against Counterfeiting and Piracy in the Bilateral Trade Agreements of the EU.

Yes I realise it is unlikely to appeal to anyone outside IP geekdom and not likely to endanger J.K Rowling's place in the bestseller lists but it does make some really sensible recommendations. Here's the Executive Summary:

"Concerns about counterfeiting and piracy are becoming increasingly
widespread and have now taken on an international dimension. Higher
standards of intellectual property protection are being set multilaterally and
through the inclusion of intellectual property provisions in bilateral trade
agreements. The EU Strategy for the Enforcement of Intellectual Property
Rights in Third Countries has undertaken to revisit the approach to the
intellectual property rights chapter of bilateral agreements, including the
clarification and strengthening of the enforcement clauses. This approach
should be reconsidered in the light of on-going negotiations on bilateral trade
agreements with a number of trading partners such as Korea, India, and
ASEAN, while negotiations on bilateral trade with Ukraine and Russia are also
being considered. If the Lisbon Treaty on the Functioning of the European
Union (TFEU) comes into force, the European Parliament will have a
significantly enhanced role to play in the negotiation of such agreements,
including the power of veto. In scrutinising and giving consent to agreements,
it is recommended that the European Parliament takes account of the
following: (1) if intellectual property enforcement provisions are to be included
in agreements, this must be done on the basis of adequate evidence on the
level of counterfeiting and piracy and its effects; (2) intellectual property rights
are private rights and the main responsibility for taking measures to protect
and enforce intellectual property rights should lie with individual right holders;
(3) the European Parliament should consider carefully the need to balance
flexibilities in the TRIPS Agreement with the need for additional provisions in
bilateral agreements to fight counterfeiting and piracy; (4) agreements that
contain provisions on recourse to bilateral dispute settlement mechanisms risk
weakening the multilateral dispute settlement system; (5) provisions in
agreements that expand the scope of border measures to cover exports as
well as goods in transit or transhipment should not be unnecessarily
burdensome and should be subject to the availability of judicial review; (6) the
European Parliament should encourage the EU to undertake needs
assessments in third countries to ensure that adequate and appropriate
technical and financial cooperation is made available on mutually agreed
terms and conditions in order to assist with the training of police, customs
officers, judiciary and other government officials; (7) it would be advantageous
to establish a parliamentary forum or an inter-parliamentary observatory to
monitor and assess the impact of bilateral agreements in the fight against
counterfeiting and piracy."

Well done to Dr. Duncan Matthews at Queen Mary College who produced the study for the Policy Department of the Directorate-General for External Policies of the Union. I wonder how many people know there is such a thing as the Policy Department of the Directorate-General for External Policies of the Union?

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