Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

New Commission reports show industry cooperation has led to progress in tackling online counterfeiting and piracy

New Commission reports show industry cooperation has led to progress in tackling online counterfeiting and piracy
Published on: 17/08/2020
The European Commission has just published two reports showing that industry-led memoranda of understanding have been a useful tool in addressing the online sale of counterfeit goods and preventing the placement of ads on websites infringing intellectual property rights.

The published reports focus on the functioning of the 2011 Memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the sale of counterfeit goods on the internet and the 2018 MoU on online advertising and intellectual property rights (IPR). They show that overall, these initiatives are valuable instruments for ensuring effective cooperation between right owners, online platforms and industry associations on one hand, and advertisers, advertising intermediaries and associations on the other hand, to prevent the violation of IPR.

Specifically, the evaluation of the 2011 MoU shows continuous cooperation on the removal of counterfeit goods from online marketplaces between June 2017 and October 2019. The MoU serves as a laboratory to identify practices in key areas such as proactive and preventive measures, notice-and-takedown procedures and tackling repeat infringers. The report gives an overview of the reported practices to combat counterfeiting online. Signatories consider the MoU useful to foster qualitative dialogues on design infringements, new fraud patterns and changes in consumer behaviour. The MoU also contributes to explore the consequences of the Covid-19 crisis for the fight against counterfeiting.

The evaluation of the 2018 MoU shows that the MoU has created more awareness among brands that their ads may end up on IPR-infringing websites. According to evidence gathered, the share of ads for European businesses on IPR-infringing websites has dropped by 12% since the introduction of the MoU, while gambling ads collected from major brands has decreased from 62% to 50% on these websites. Signatories have shared expertise and good practices, in particular in the use of advanced technology to monitor the placement of advertisements and in the adjustment of contractual arrangements to minimise piracy.

Practices reported under both MoUs set a standard for the signatories and prompt other stakeholders to take more action in the fight against counterfeiting and piracy. To further increase the effectiveness of the MoUs in the future, signatories encourage other interested parties - including classified ads websites, social media firms, search engines, payment services, shippers and price comparison portals - to join, and call for enhanced cooperation with public authorities, in particular law enforcement authorities.

The findings of these reports will also feed into the on-going evidence-gathering exercise on the Digital Services Act, and contribute to developing further actions to fight IP theft, which will be announced in the Commission's upcoming intellectual property action plan.

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