The European Commission will initiate efforts to identify the countries and online marketplaces that serve as the most significant producers and havens for counterfeit and otherwise infringing goods in its fight against the multi-billion euro counterfeit trade. According to the European Commission, its “Watch List” efforts are being put forth in an attempt to cut down on the roughly €85 billion worth of counterfeit goods that enter into the European Union each year.
The Commission, which is an institution of the European Union tasked with proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the EU treaties and managing the day-to-day business of the EU, announced on Tuesday that it will publish a list, not unlike the U.S. Trade Representative’s annual “Special 301 list," which details how intellectual property is being protected – or better yet, not protected – on a worldwide basis.
As first reported by the Financial Times, “More than 100 companies, including Louis Vuitton, Adidas, and Prada, wrote to Jean-Claude Juncker earlier this month calling on the EU to draw up laws against counterfeiting rather than asking websites and advertisers to cooperate on a voluntary basis.”
The European Commission, which is adamant that its existing laws are, in fact, “fit for purpose,” stated on Wednesday – by way of commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska – that the new initiative will “boost our collective ability to catch the ‘big fish’ behind fake goods and pirated content which harm our companies and our jobs, as well as our health and safety in areas such as medicines or toys.”
The EU’s Watch List will likely mirror that of the U.S. Trade Representative. As noted by the EU’s Intellectual Property Office, China is the biggest single source of the world’s fake goods; in the U.S. Trade Representative's May 2017, China – a routine "Priority Watch List" country – was highlighted due to both “longstanding and new IP concerns [that] strongly merit attention.” The U.S. subsequently initiated a U.S. Trade Representative investigation this summer into China’s alleged “theft” of American intellectual property.