Intellectual property and counterfeiting were the topics of the day on 12th November, when we were joined at the chamber by Harrie Temmink, Head of Unit at DG CONNECT. Harrie led a fantastic presentation and discussion with our members about the Commission’s plans to tackle the spread of counterfeit products, as well as protect intellectual property rights.
The outgoing European Commission led by President Juncker has generally done well in its attempts to legislate on these issues, in particular the success of the IP Enforcement Action Plan – created in conjunction with DG TAXUD – can be upheld as a key triumph of Juncker’s team. However, it hasn’t all been plain sailing. In 2016 the Commission concluded a review of the Directive on Enforcement of IP Rights, finding that although the Directive is fit for purpose, there has not been a uniform application of provisions across all member states. This is largely due to differences in legal systems and legal interpretations, so in 2017 the Commission released a guidance document with clarifications from the European Court of Justice. This guidance has solved some of the implementation issues, however awareness of the document should be raised so as to improve its effectiveness.
There have also been industry-led initiatives on this front, such as annual meetings to discuss key performance indicators and share good practices.Often, these initiatives have been facilitated by the Commission with schemes such as the Memorandum of Understanding on the sale of counterfeit goods via the internet. One conclusion drawn from this is that platforms need to be doing more than their bare minimum legal requirements, but this extra effort must be reciprocated by rights-holders providing better and clearer information to platforms about their products.
Looking ahead, IP and counterfeiting is likely to be a priority for Ms von der Leyen both short term and long term. This is not least due to the impact of counterfeit products on the environment; manufacturing processes rarely meets EU standards for materials or emissions, and they are often shipped into the EU from third countries such as China. This environmental impact is particularly evident in the crop protection industry, where around 10% pesticides are allegedly counterfeit. The Digital Services Act is also expected to have a large part to play, as it will aim to better facilitate information-sharing between platforms and rights-holders, as well as customs and port authorities.
Deputy Head of Unit, Intellectual Property and Fight against Counterfeiting | DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (GROWTH)
Harrie Temmink is currently Deputy Head of the Industrial Property and Fight Against Counterfeiting Unit at DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (GROW), European Commission. Harrie has a Dutch Law Degree and a Spanish Language and Literature Degree from the University of Utrecht (The Netherlands). He joined the European Commission in 2003 and worked at the Industrial Property Unit of DG Internal Market and Services (2003-2008); as a Member of Cabinet of Mrs Meglena Kuneva, European Commissioner for Consumer Affairs (2008-2010), and as Deputy Head of the Online and Postal Services Unit (2011-2014) and the Public Interest Services Unit (2014-2017). He worked previously as a lecturer in Public Economic Law at the University of Utrecht; as an advisor at the Netherlands Competition Authority and as a Legal Secretary to the Court of Justice of the European Union.