The Memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the sale of counterfeit goods on the internet is a voluntary agreement facilitated by the European Commission to prevent offers of counterfeit goods from appearing in online marketplaces.
This MoU was first concluded in May 2011 and brought together major online platforms and rights holders for goods for which counterfeit and pirated versions are sold online (e.g. fast-moving consumer goods, consumer electronics, fashion and luxury goods, sports goods, films, software, games and toys).
In 2016 the MoU was revised and signed again to include key performance indicators (KPIs) to track its impact and measure its success.
In August 2020, the Commission published a report on the functioning of the MoU, which confirms continuous cooperation on the removal of counterfeit goods from online marketplaces between June 2017 and October 2019. Online platforms and most IP rights owners consider the MoU a valuable instrument to exchange information and ensure effective cooperation between signatories. It 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. In addition to the data collection, signatories consider the MoU useful to foster qualitative dialogues with a focus on new trends, such as 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.
Practices reported under the MoU set a standard for signatories, and may prompt stakeholders not involved in the MoU to perform better in the fight against IPR infringements at national, EU and international level.
However, the MoU process has its limits, such as the involvement of a limited group of stakeholders. Therefore, signatories encourage the participation of other interested parties in the MoU, such as classified ads websites, social media firms, search engines, payment services, shippers and price comparison portals. Signatories also call for enhanced cooperation with law enforcement authorities.
In November 2017, the Commission published an overview of the functioning of the MoU, as part of the IP Package. The overview concludes the assessment period during which progress made during the first year of the work under the revised MoU was measured. The results are based on data obtained in relation to the key performance indicators set out in the MoU and feedback gathered from the MoU signatories.
The results of the work under the MoU are positive. They show that the MoU has effectively contributed to removing counterfeit products from online marketplaces and that it is a useful forum which allows trust and cooperation between parties to be strengthened.
In April 2013, the Commission published a report on the functioning of the 2011 MoU. The report provides a detailed assessment of best practices and practical measures that successfully prevent the sale of counterfeits online. The report also demonstrates that, in parallel with legislation, voluntary cooperation significantly contributes to curbing online counterfeiting, providing flexibility to adapt quickly to technological developments and deliver efficient solutions.