Chapter News, News

European Council Adopted Regulation Strengthening Intellectual Property Rights

Brussels, 22 March 2012

The adoption of this Regulation by the European Parliament and the Council is the first legislative delivery from the Commission’s IPR Strategy of May 2011, ‘Towards a single market for intellectual property rights’1.

IPR infringements are a growing threat to the economy. Between 2005 and 2010, the number of registered cases at the EU borders of goods suspected of infringing IPR increased from 26,704 to over 80,000. The OECD has estimated that the annual loss to the world economy of this problem is around EUR 200 billion.

To respond to this phenomenon of IPR infringements, the European Observatory on Counterfeiting and Piracy was set up within the Commission in 2009, as a platform for coordinating actions to protect intellectual property rights across Europe. It is composed of representatives from the public and private sectors. Under the terms of this Regulation, the Observatory is renamed the “European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights”, covering all IP rights, and its management is now entrusted to the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market.

With its seat in Alicante (Spain), OHIM is the EU agency that is responsible for registering trademarks and designs that are valid in all 27 Member States. It has close ties with all 27 national Industrial Property Offices.

The tasks and activities of the OHIM under this Regulation include:

  • Enhancing understanding of the value of intellectual property
  • Improving understanding on the impact of infringements of IPR (e.g. by establishing a transparent methodology for the collection of independent and reliable data)
  • Assisting in raising citizens’ awareness of the impact of IPR infringements
  • Developing training programmes for people involved in the enforcement of IPR, including in non EU countries
  • Disseminating information regarding best practices.

These tasks and activities will be carried out in cooperation with the Member States and the Commission.

Meetings of the Observatory will comprise, on the one hand, representatives of the Member States dealing with intellectual property rights and, on the other, a broad, representative and balanced range of representatives from the private sector (including consumer organisations, SMEs and various economic sectors, including the creative industries such as authors). Representatives of the European Parliament and of the Commission will participate in the various meetings. Civil society and academic experts will also have the possibility to support the Office’s work under this Regulation.

The Office will draw up an annual work programme for its activities under this Regulation with Observatory representatives, and an annual report reporting on these activities will be submitted to the Parliament, Commission and the Member States.

After five years, the Commission will prepare a report evaluating the impact the Regulation has had on the enforcement of IPR in the internal market.

For statement by Commissioner Barnier see also MEMO/12/207

1 : / Com(2011)287final of 24.5.2011.