Customs authorities have begun testing an IT database that aims to support rights owners in their fight against infringement in the EU.
Nine organisations are believed to be piloting the enforcement database, a central repository of information about trademark and design owners’ products, which is managed by the EU Observatory.
The first pilot phase opened in June this year, allowing rights owners to fill the database with information, but now customs officials have their chance to use the system before it launches fully in April next year.
Managed by the Observatory, an anti-counterfeiting and piracy unit of the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market, the database provides a bridge between brands and customs officials. Rights holders can submit pictures, company details or other information they believe to be relevant and useful for tackling infringement.
The database is free to use, but rights owners must have a registered trademark or design to set up an account.
While customs authorities are testing the database, work is continuing at the Observatory to incorporate it into the secure EU customs network (CCN/CSI), providing EU officers with easy and direct access to brands’ information.
In contrast to other anti-infringement databases, the enforcement database is free and intended to be a simple and proactive measure, said Heather Williams, senior associate at law firm Appleyard Lees.
“It’s user-friendly – you can pick and choose who sees your information,” she said.
“Any information will be translated into the official EU languages,” she added, “so officials can use their local languages.”
But the benefits for brands will depend on the quality of the information they upload, Williams said, because if rights owners don’t use it, customs officials “may not use it” either.
She added: “The database is a simple concept, and it will not replace existing legal procedures in place at customs.
“But if brands sign up, it will help to detect counterfeit goods. It will take time to gain momentum, but it should be attractive to rights owners,” Williams said.
This article was first published on 25 November 2013 in World IP Review
ohim, eu observatory, enforcement database, customs organisations