Brussels, 5 October 2006
The European Commission has today published the results of a survey of EU businesses on their experience with Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) enforcement outside the EU in 2005. The results have helped the Commission to define a list of priority countries and regions on which to focus activity and resources in the fight against counterfeiting. The survey identifies China as the main priority for EU efforts in the fight against counterfeiting, accounting for two thirds of all counterfeit goods seized entering the EU. Secondary priorities are identified as Russia, the Ukraine, Chile and Turkey.
While the EU does not exclude the possibility of action in the WTO against IPR infringement, the EU is not creating a ‘black list’, but looking to focus technical assistance and cooperation in the joint fight against piracy. Today’s survey results send a message of concern and signal the EU’s firm resolve to tackle it. The European Union is ready to help key third countries in improving their act; but will not accept systematic and large scale infringements of the rights of EU industry.
The results of the survey are intended to provide a resource for European businesses by making them aware of the risks they may face when dealing with certain third countries, but also by drawing attention to the resources available for protecting their intellectual property rights outside the EU.
Identifying target countries
The survey results identify three categories of concern for counterfeiting.
Category 1 – China has been identified as the main priority for the EU. Indicators such as customs seizures show that alone it is responsible for around two thirds of infringing goods entering the EU. On the other hand, China is the country where the EU has established the most in-depth cooperation to address the problem.
Category 2 - Countries with high levels of production, transit and/or consumption of counterfeit goods. These countries have made serious commitments to the EU to adopt the highest standards of IPR enforcement, but need to considerably step-up their efforts and tackle serious deficiencies: Russia, Ukraine, Chile and Turkey.
Category 3 - Countries/regions with high levels of production, transit and/or consumption of IP infringing goods, with which the EU is considering enhanced trade agreements with a closer focus on IPR enforcement: ASEAN, with a particular focus on Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam; Mercosur, with a particular focus on Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay; Korea
Why do intellectual property rights matter?
The exploitation and protection of intellectual property goes to the heart of the EU’s ability to compete in the global economy. Europe’s primary comparative advantage lies in creativity, invention and quality – and counterfeiting directly attacks this strength. Stepping up the fight against counterfeiting was a key strand of the Global Europe external competitiveness strategy launched by Commissioner Mandelson on 4 October 2006. Today’s survey results will be the basis for that work.
What does the survey cover and how was it conducted?
The Enforcement Survey is based on questionnaires requesting specific information about actual infringements suffered, measures undertaken against such infringements and the reaction from national authorities. The questionnaires also asked general information about the state of enforcement in the country concerned. It was sent to right-holders, associations, EU Delegations and Embassies of EU member states. It was also made available on the DG Trade website any concerned parties were publicly invited to participate via External Trade's newsletter.
The Enforcement Survey gives a detailed state-of-play of the enforcement
situation in countries and describes the actions available against
infringements, the most effective mechanisms and best practices for tackling it.
There is also extensive information about the difficulties with which EU
right-holders are confronted when operating in third countries.