Category: WIPO

Current Lawsuit Exposes Limitations in Russia’s New Online Copyright Laws

Check out my guest posting for the UK IP blog The IPKat on the Russian publishing house Eksmo’s copyright infringement lawsuit against leading Russian social media website VKontakte, and general online copyright enforcement in the Russian Federation. It is available at:

The Trans Pacific Partnership and Its Implications on Online Copyright Enforcement

In recent months, representatives from the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP; Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States and Vietnam) member states have been pushing to finalize a final TPP agreement.[1] A particularly contentious issue in these negotiations has been the intellectual property (IP) chapter of the TPP Agreement. A predominant proposed version, the U.S. Draft IP Chapter, has been controversial as it requires TPP member states to adopt IP standards that are in many cases is on par with those under U.S. law, and in some cases, beyond U.S. law and generally-accepted global IP protection standards in the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).[2] As a result, several TPP member states have objected to U.S. Draft IP Chapter, thereby stalling progress towards a final TPP agreement.

Of particular importance in these debates is the online copyright enforcement protections procedures the TPP agreement will mandate for its member states. If enacted, the U.S. IP chapter would likely require TPP member states to adopt copyright enforcement measures that would allow copyright owners, rights holders, or agents thereof (collectively, “Authorized Party”) to directly petition Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to remove hosted infringing content. Article 16.3(a) of the U.S. Draft IP Chapter requires that TPP member states provide “legal incentives for [Internet] service providers to cooperate with copyright owners in deterring the unauthorized storage and transmission of copyrighted materials.” Although ambiguous, adopting such provisions would likely require TPP member states to maintain or enact a form of copyright protection protocols that would allow Authorized Parties to petition ISPs hosting or transmitting infringing content to remove such content.

The main question arising from these potential reforms is whether they would result in TPP member states adopting U.S.-like notice and takedown protocols, or less forceful ISP copyright enforcement measures. Notice and takedown systems generally provide ISPs a safe harbor from liability for hosting or transmitting infringing content if they remove infringing content they host or transmit upon receipt notice from an Authorized Party. In contrast, other TPP member states do not provide copyright owners such a level of protections. Some of these states do not require that a ISP take down allegedly infringing content upon receipt of notice from an Authorized Party to qualify for safe harbors. Others require that Authorized Parties seek judicial copyright enforcement to combat online infringement, which is a more delayed and costly process.

Although not stated in the U.S. Draft IP Chapter, the U.S. may, as it has in previous U.S. free trade agreements (FTAs), negotiate that TPP member states adopt notice and takedown protocols in TPP side letters.[3] In previous U.S. FTAs, the U.S. has executed additional annexed agreements, known as “side letters,” where other countries agreed to adopt U.S.-like notice and takedown protocols. This has had varying degrees of success. Australia, Peru and Singapore, among others, have adopted notice and takedown protocols similar to those under the U.S.’ Digital Millennium Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. § 512(c)(3)(A)) in FTA side letters with the U.S., while Chile rejected adopting such a system.

Similar mixed outcomes could result from the TPP as well. Brunei Darussalam, Mexico and Vietnam do not maintain any ISP copyright enforcement protocols short of judicial action. Further, a number of TPP member states including Canada, Chile and New Zealand maintain online copyright enforcement systems that arguably do not provide the same level of direct and expedient enforcement power or protections to Authorized Parties as notice and takedown systems. Lastly, some TPP member states such as Malaysia that do maintain notice and takedown protocols have called for establishing TPP agreement implementation exceptions for existing domestic legislation.[4] This would likely give TPP member states with weaker online copyright enforcement systems such as Canada, Chile and New Zealand the ability to maintain their less forceful online copyright enforcement systems, while still remaining parties to the TPP Agreement.[5]

Despite these limitations, the TPP’s potential adoption of notice and takedown protocols will ultimately impact the ability to which Authorized Parties can more quickly, cheaply and effectively enforce online copyright protections in the TPP member states. Adoption of notice and takedown protocols will enable Authorized Parties to more easily enforce online copyrights in TPP member states, while making such protocols optional would likely make such enforcement more difficult. Only time will tell whether the U.S. and other notice and takedown proponents will persuade other TPP member states to adopt notice and takedown protocols.

To understand how the TPP would impact individual TPP member state online copyright enforcement systems, the following are brief summaries of the TPP member states’ current online copyright enforcement systems. However, there are a few things to note:

  • Jurisdiction and National Treatment: In order for an Authorized Party to utilize a notice and takedown in a TPP member state, their content must generally qualify for national copyright protection in that TPP member state, and the particular ISP must be subject to the jurisdiction of that country. Further information about these preliminary issues can be found in my March 25, 2013 posting.
  • Enforcement System Legend: As mentioned, online copyright enforcement procedures vary amongst the TPP member states. Countries that maintain a notice and takedown protocols are identified below as a “Notice and Takedown,” while countries that maintain systems that simply require ISPs to notify infringers of their infringing acts without infringing content removal are listed as “Notice and Notice.” Countries that do not have means for Authorized Parties to directly enforce their copyright protections through ISP notices, and are instead forced to seek judicial action are referred to as “Judicial System.”

TPP Member State Online Copyright Enforcement Systems

United States
Enforcement System Notice and Takedown
Overview and Notes The U.S. notice and takedown protocols have been implemented in FTAs with Bahrain, Dominican Republic, Morocco, Oman, Peru, Singapore and South Korea.
Governing Legislation
Digital Millennium Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. § 512(c)(3)(A))
Notice Requirements

  1. A physical or electronic signature of a person authorized to act on behalf of the content owner alleging infringement;
  2. Identification of the copyrighted work(s) claimed to have been infringed;
  3. Identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing and wished to be removed or disabled, including any reasonable information that would allow an ISP to locate the material (i.e. website addresses);
  4. Information reasonably sufficient to permit the ISP to contact the copyright owner (i.e. address, telephone number, e-mail, etc.);
  5. A statement that the copyright owner has a good faith belief that the use of their content is not authorized by the copyright owner; and
  6. A statement that the information provided is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.
Enforcement System Notice and Takedown
Overview and Notes Australia adopted notice and takedown protocols based on a side letter annexed in the U.S-Australia FTA.
Governing Legislation
Regulation 20(I-J), 1969 Copyright Regulations
, Schedule 10 (Part 1), 1969 Copyright Regulations
Notice Requirements

  1. The statement: “I, the person whose name is stated below, issue this notification for the purposes of condition 3 of item 4 of the table in subsection 116AH(1) of the Copyright Act 1968 and regulation 20(I) of the Copyright Regulations 1969.”
  2. The statement: “I am the owner (or agent of the owner of the copyright) in the copyright material specified in the Schedule [See number 7 below], being copyright material residing on your system or network.”
  3. (If submitted by a copyright owner) The statement: “I believe, in good faith, that the storage of the specified copyright material on your system or network is not authorized by the copyright owner or a licensee, or the Copyright Act 1968, and is therefore an infringement of the copyright in that material.”;
  4. (If submitted by a copyright owner’s agent) The statement: “I believe, in good faith, that the storage of the specified copyright material on your system or network is not authorized by the copyright owner or a licensee of the copyright owner, or the Copyright Act 1968, and is therefore an infringement of the copyright in that material”;
  5. (If submitted by a copyright owner’s agent) The statement: “I have taken reasonable steps to ensure that the information and statements in this notice are accurate.”;
  6. The copyright owner or their agent’s name, address, e-mail address, telephone number and fax number; and
  7. An attached schedule to the notice including a description of the copyright material and the location of the infringing content.
Brunei Darussalam
Enforcement System Judicial System
Overview and Notes Brunei does not currently maintain any legal means for Authorized Parties to directly petition ISPs to takedown infringing content. However, recent reports have indicated that Bruneian authorities are evaluating copyright reforms, which may include ISP notice and takedown protocols.[6]
Governing Legislation N/A
Notice Requirements N/A

Enforcement System Notice and Notice
Overview and Notes Although Canada considered adopting a notice and takedown protocols in 2006, they opted for a notice and notice system in 2012 in order to balance the interests of copyright owners and Internet users.[7]
Governing Legislation
Section 41.25-41.27, The Copyright Act
Notice Requirements

  1. Must be in writing;
  2. State the claimant’s name, address and other relevant communication information;
  3. Identify the work or other subject-matter to which the claimed infringement relates;
  4. State the claimant’s interest or right with respect to the copyright in the work or other subject-matter;
  5. Specify the location data for the electronic location to which the claimed infringement relates;
  6. Specify the infringement that is claimed;
  7. Specify the date and time of the commission of the claimed infringement; and
  8. Provide any other information or as provided by other regulations.

Enforcement System Judicial System (*notice and takedown variation)
Overview and Notes Chile rejected adopting notice and takedown protocols in both the U.S.-Chile FTA and proposed copyright reforms in 2010.[8] Instead, Chile requires that Authorized Parties submit an expedited judicial petition to evaluate alleged infringement and be granted a takedown.
Governing Legislation
Article 85R, Law No. 20.435 (amending Law No. 17.336 on Intellectual Property
Judicial Petition

  1. The allegedly infringed rights, with a specific indication of the rights and the infringement procedure;
  2. The infringing material; and
  3. The location of the infringing material in the respective ISP network or system.

Enforcement System Notice and Takedown
Overview and Notes Japan’s notice and takedown protocols establishes that allegedly infringing content will be taken down seven days after notice is provided from the ISP to the alleged infringer.
Governing Legislation
Article 3(2)(ii), Act No. 137 0f 2001 (Act on the Limitation of Liability for Damages of Specified Telecommunications Service Providers and the Right to Demand Disclosure of Identification Information of the Senders)
Notice Requirements

  1. Information and location of the particular alleged infringement;
  2. Suggested enforcement actions to be taken by the ISP;
  3. The rights in the work that are allegedly being infringed;
  4. The reasoning why the copyright owner/rights holder believes that an infringement has taken place; and
  5. The copyright owner/rights holder’s contact information.

Enforcement System Notice and Takedown
Overview and Notes Malaysia enacted copyright reforms in 2010 that permit Authorized Parties to submit infringement notices to ISPs that will remove infringing content within 48 hours of notice to the alleged infringer from the ISP. However, The International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) has criticized Malaysia’s notice and takedown protocols for not providing enough details about notice requirements and enforcement procedures.[9]
Governing Legislation
Article 43H, Copyright (Amendment) Act 2010
Notice Requirements As mentioned, Malaysia does not provide specific content requirements for ISP takedown notices.

Enforcement System Judicial System
Overview and Notes Mexico has no legal procedures for Authorized Parties to remove infringing online content short of seeking judicial action. It is also important to note that Mexican telecommunications laws prohibit ISPs from disclosing their customers’ personal information.[10]
Governing Legislation N/A
Notice Requirements N/A

New Zealand
Enforcement System Notice and Takedown-Judicial System Mix (aka Three Strikes)
Overview After enacting notice and takedown protocols in 2008, New Zealand repealed them in February 2010. They were replaced with a Three Strikes System, requiring Authorized Parties to submit multiple notices to an ISP, and a takedown application to the New Zealand Copyright Tribunal in order to obtain the removal of infringing content. The Three Strike System subjects the Authorized Party to fees of NW$25.00 (US$20.00) per notice, and NZ$200.00 (US$208.00) per application.[11]
Governing Legislation
Section 92C and 92D, Copyright Act 1994
Section 4, Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Regulations 2011
Notice Requirements

  1. Copyright owner’s name;
  2. Copyright owner’s contact details (e-mail address, telephone number, physical address, mailing address in New Zealand (if no physical address);
  3. (If a rights owner is acting as an agent for the copyright owner) Evidence of the rights owner’s authority to act as agent for the copyright owner;
  4. Identify the IP address at which the infringements are alleged to have occurred;
  5. The date on which the infringements are alleged to have occurred at that IP address;
  6. For each copyright work in which copyright is alleged to have been infringed: (i) the name of the copyright owner in the work; (ii) the name of the work, along with any unique identifiers by which it can be identified; (iii)
 the type of work it is (in terms of section 14(1) of the Act); (iv) 
the restricted act or acts (in terms of section 16(1) of the Act) by which copyright in the work is alleged to have been infringed; (v) the New Zealand date and time when the alleged infringement occurred or commenced, which must specify the hour, minute, and second; and (vi)  the file sharing application or network used in the alleged infringement; and
  7. A statement that, to the best of the rights owner/copyright owner’s knowledge, the information provided in the notice is true and correct; and that statement must be verified by a signature (physical or digital) of the rights owner/copyright owner or a person authorized to sign on behalf of the rights owner/copyright owner.

Enforcement System Notice and Takedown
Overview and Notes Peru adopted notice and takedown protocols based on a side letter annexed in the U.S-Peru Free Trade Agreement.
Governing Legislation Copyright Law (Legislative Decree No. 822)
Notice Requirements

  1. Statement that the information in the notice is accurate;
  2. Information reasonably sufficient to enable the ISP to identify the copyrighted work(s) appeared to have been infringed;
  3. The identity, address, telephone number and electronic mail address of the complaining party (or its authorized agent);
  4. Statement that the complaining party has a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by copyright owner, its owner, its agent or the law;
  5. Statement with sufficient indicia of reliability (such as a statement under penalty of perjury or equivalent legal sanctions) that the complaining party is the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed or is authorized to act on the owner’s behalf; and
  6. Signature of the person giving notice.
Enforcement System Notice and Takedown
Overview and Notes Singapore adopted its notice and takedown protocols in 2006 based on a side letter agreement annexed in the U.S-Singapore FTA.
Governing Legislation
Section 193C(2)(b) Copyright Act (Chapter 63)
, Copyright (Network Service Provider) Regulations 2005
Notice Requirements

  1. Name and address of the complainant (if acting on the copyright owner’s behalf);
  2. Complainant address for service in Singapore (if a non-Singapore resident);
  3. Complainant’s telephone number, fax number and e-mail address;
  4. Identification of copyright material and location of allegedly infringing content;
  5. A statement that the information in the notice is accurate;
  6. A statement that the complainant is the owner or exclusive licensee of the copyright in the material referred to in complaint or is authorized to act on behalf of the owner or exclusive licensee of the copyright in the material referred to in the notice;
  7. A statement that the complainant requires the network service provider to remove or disable access to the allegedly infringing content;
  8. A statement that the complainant or their agent, in good faith, believes that the electronic copy referred to in the notice is an infringing copy of the protected material content;
  9. A statement that the complainant is the owner, exclusive licensee, or agent thereof of the copyrighted content; and
  10. A statement that the complainant submits to the jurisdiction of the courts in Singapore for the purposes of any proceedings relating to any offense under section 193DD(1) of the Copyright Act or any liability under section 193DD(1)(b) of the Copyright Act.

Enforcement System Judicial System
Overview and Notes Although Vietnam recently adopted Internet liability reforms under the Internet Laws (Decree No. 72/2013), such reforms were silent on online copyright enforcement. The IIPA has criticized Vietnam for failing to adopt effective procedures to address online piracy administrative complaints.[12]
Governing Legislation N/A
Notice Requirements N/A

**Important Note**
: Even if a country maintains notice and takedown protocols, an ISP is generally not obligated to take down infringing content despite legal incentives to do so. Those with further questions about a TPP member state’s online copyright enforcement procedures should seek qualified counsel in that particular country.

[1] Joint Press Statement TPP Ministerial Meeting Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Aug. 2013, available at
[2] See Sean Flynn, Margot Kiminski, Brook Baker and Jimmy Koo, Public Interest Analysis of the US TPP Proposal for an IP Chapter, Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property: American University Washington College of Law, 3, Dec. 6, 2011, available at
[3] Id. at 50.
[4] Copyright Issues in the TPP: Malaysia, Public Citizen, 2012, available at
[5] See id.
[6] See Calls For Brunei To Carry Tougher Copyright Laws, The Brunei Times, Aug. 10, 2013, available at
[7] Paul Chwelos, Assessing the Economic Impacts of Copyright Reform on Internet Service Providers, Industry Canada, Jan. 2006, available at; Bob Taratino, Online Infringement: Canadian “Notice and Notice” vs US “Notice and Takedown”, Heenan Blaikie LLP, Jun. 27, 2012, available at
[8] Chile’s Notice-and-Takedown System for Copyright Protection: An Alternative Approach, Center for Democracy & Technology, Aug. 28, 2012, available at
[9] IIPA 2012 Report: Malaysia, IIPA, 207-08, 2012, available at
[10] IIPA 2013 Report: Mexico, IIPA, 210, 2013, available at
[11] Section 92A Bill Introduced in Parliament Today, Behive.Gov.Nz, Feb. 23, 2010, available at
[12] IIPA 2013 Report: Vietnam, IIPA, 289, 2013, available at

Protecting Your Online Content on Both Sides of the Border

I had the honor to guest blog about cross-border online copyright enforcement for Vancouver Canada’s Kusic and Kusic Blog.  Check out my article at

The Colonel and Hitler: How KFC Could Have Handled Trademark Tarnishment in Thailand

Earlier this summer, several news outlets reported that U.S. fast food conglomerate Yum! Brands, the operator of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), was considering taking legal action against a fast food restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand shockingly called “Hitler.” The Hitler restaurant was selling fast food under a logo similar to KFC’s iconic logo, replacing the face of Colonel Harland Sanders, KFC’s founder with his signature white suit and string tie, with the face of Adolph Hitler, former German Chancellor, warmonger and mass-murderer.

Despite the Hitler restaurant’s subsequent removal of their offensive interpretation of the KFC logo, the incident highlighted legal issues businesses may face in foreign markets beyond the unauthorized use of their marks (aka infringement). I’m talking about foreign trademark tarnishment. Trademark tarnishment is the unauthorized use of a well-known mark that degrades consumers’ positive associations with such mark, thereby harming the mark’s overall reputation.[1]

What does this mean in an international context? Foreign trademark tarnishment can result in reduced foreign demand for a business’ goods or services, and hinder their ability to take advantage of foreign market opportunities. Although protecting against trademark tarnishment is generally difficult, KFC’s recent altercation with the Hitler restaurant shows ways in which foreign businesses can take advantage of foreign national trademark laws to protect their marks against tarnishment—even if such countries do not main specific protections against tarnishment.

Thai trademark law does not providing express protections against tarnishment. However, KFC’s logo likely qualifies for tarnishment-like protections in Thailand because it would qualify as a “well-known mark.” Unlike the U.S. and other common law countries (Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and the United Kingdom, among others), Thailand is a “first to file” country, meaning that a mark can normally only obtain full protection under Thai law through registration with the Thai Department of Intellectual Property (DIP). However, Section 8(10) of the Thai Trademark Act (“Act”) acknowledges rights for unregistered well-known marks.  Since 2005, an unregistered mark can be designated as a well-known mark under Thai trademark law if it meets several evidentiary criteria upon petition to the DIP’s Board of Well-Known Marks.[2]

Similar to most countries, meeting such criteria in Thailand generally requires that a mark possess nationwide recognition. Article 16(2) of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and Article 16bis of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property require that a mark have nationwide recognition among consumers to qualify as a well-known mark.[3] Likewise, Thailand requires that a mark have nationwide consumer recognition, yet this recognition can be established through predominant use of the mark abroad.[4] Once established, a well-known mark is granted protections in all classes of goods and services.[5]

In the case of KFC, it is likely that their logo qualifies as a well-known mark in Thailand based on KFC’s global and national recognition. KFC has more than 450 outlets in Thailand and approximately 15,000 outlets worldwide—not to mention extensive global advertising and promotional campaigns.[6] These facts likely qualify the KFC logo for well-known mark protection in Thailand (upon petition), giving KFC broad protection under the Act for its logo among multiple if not all classes of goods and services.

By obtaining trademark protection, a trademark owner can normally prevent others from most forms of unauthorized use of such mark. Yet, you might asking yourself, o.k., while supplanting Adolf Hitler for Colonel Sanders is detestable, isn’t it permitted as free speech? The answer varies from country-to-country and from case-to-case. Several major markets including the U.S., the European Union and India, recognize that unauthorized users of a mark may defend against infringement or tarnishment claims through fair use, namely the ability to use a registered mark for legitimate free speech purposes such as parody. In the U.S., such a defense is upheld sometimes in a confusing way. For example, a U.S. Court found that the unauthorized noncommercial use of marks from a L.L. Bean catalogue can be parodied in an adult magazine, but the unauthorized use of the Dallas Cowboys football cheerleading team’s trademark in a pornographic film did not.[7] In terms of Nazis and terrorists, a U.S. Court did allow an unauthorized user to conjure up Nazi and Al-Qaeda themes in their use of Wal-Mart’s well-known mark when such use was non-commercial.[8]

Fortunately for KFC, Thailand does not appear to afford such a fair use defense. Section 109 of the Act prohibits any person who “imitates” a registered mark to mislead the public as to its true ownership, subjecting such user to fines up to 200,000 Baht (approx. US$ 6,250.00) and/or two years imprisonment. Due to the inherent broadness of “imitates” without any express fair use defenses provided under the Act, Thailand appears to possess little to no trademark fair use exceptions for parody or other recognized fair uses. Based on these facts, KFC would likely be able to seek enforcement of their trademark rights in their logo as a well-known mark against the Hitler restaurant.

What’s the takeaway? The moral of this story is that understanding foreign national IP laws can help businesses to find effective solutions to protect against tarnishment and other unauthorized uses abroad, even if such protections are not expressly provided in foreign national legislation. Although few business maintain as well-known marks as KFC’s logo, most businesses can adopt tailored foreign trademark protection strategies to prevent tarnishment or infringement of their marks. Businesses who have tarnishment issues in a particular market should consult with qualified local counsel to understand what protections can be afforded to their marks.

[1] Britt N. Lovejoy, Tarnishing The Dilution by Tarnishment Cause of Action: Starbucks Corp. v. Wolfe’s Borough Coffee, Inc. and V Secret Catalogue, Inc. v. Moseley, Compared, 26 Berkeley Tech. L. J. 623, 626 (2011) (citing J. Thomas McCarthy, 4 McCarthy On  Trademarks & Unfair Competition § 24:89 (4th ed.)).
[2] See Somboon Earterasarun, Criteria In Determining Well-Known Trademarks in Thailand, Tilleke & Gibbins, (2010), available at
[3] See Keola R. Whittaker, Trademark Dilution in a Global Age, 27 U. Pa. J. Int’l Econ. L. 907, 937 (2006).
[4] Department of Intellectual Property Regulations on Recordal of Well-Known Marks B.E. 2548 (AD 2005), Ch. 7, 11.
[5] Say Sujintaya and Jomjai Jintasuwon, Well-known Trademarks in Thailand – A Bump in the Road, Baker & McKenzie, Mar. 23, 2012, available at
[6] About KFC,, available at; Yum! Brands, Yum! Financial Data, Restaurant Counts (2012), available at
[7] See L.L. Bean, Inc. v. Drake Publishers, Inc., 811 F.2d 26, 34 (1st. Cir. 1987); compare Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, Inc. v. Pussycat Cinema, Ltd., 467 F. Supp. 366, 376 (S.D.N.Y. 1979).
[8] See Smith v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 537 F. Supp. 2d 1302, 1339-40 (N.D. Ga. 2008) (Use of the terms WAL★OCAUST and WAL-QAEDA in referencing Wal-Mart’s trademarks in tee-shirts was held to be protected parodic noncommercial speech).

Understanding Foreign IP Customs Notification Registration Procedures

In recent years, many national customs offices have established notification procedures to allow IP rights holders the ability to alert customs officials of their IP rights in order to assist them in their import inspection activities. Like Internet Service Provider takedown requests on the Internet (more information about these procedures), IP customs office notifications is a tool for IP rights holders to protect their IP rights abroad by reducing the global spread of infringing goods and content by preventing its cross-border transit—and in many cases, assisting in its destruction. However, to utilize such protection measures, an IP rights holder must ask themselves:

  1. Can you submit such a notification in a particular country?
  2. Does the country you wish to enforce your IP rights have an IP customs notification system?
  3. Does such a country’s national IP customs notification system include the type of IP you wish to protect?
  4. What are the particular foreign customs agency’s IP notification requirements?

Can you submit a IP customs notification? Generally, an IP rights holder can only submit an IP customs notification to a foreign customs office if their IP qualifies for protection in that foreign country. Determining if particular IP qualifies for protection in a country depends on the type of IP the rights holder wishes to protect and to what extent the rights holder has secured foreign legal protections. Here is how it breaks down:

Trademarks. If an IP rights holder wants to submit a foreign customs notification to protect a trademark or service mark in another country, they usually need to have registered that mark in the IP office of that specific country or through a centralized international registration mechanism like the Madrid Protocol (more information about the Madrid Protocol). This is because trademark protection is territorial, meaning that a trademark or service mark registration only grants its owner rights in the mark in the territory of the registering country. So for example, if a U.S. company registers its trademark in the U.S. for particular goods or services and wishes to protect that trademark against infringing imports into New Zealand, it must also register that mark through the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand or the Madrid Protocol in order to submit a trademark notification to the New Zealand Customs Service.

Of course there are some important exceptions to this territoriality requirement to keep in mind. The European Union maintains a community-wide trademark system (Community Trade Mark) allowing one community registration to qualify for customs notification registration in all EU member states (a list of EU member states is available here). The African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI) also maintains a community trademark system where a single OAPI community mark registration is recognized in 16 African nations (a list of EU member states is available here).

Patents. Like trademarks, a patent rights holder must generally have a registered patent in the country to which they wish to register an IP customs notification. Unlike trademarks, however, there are no current community registration exceptions. As a result, patent rights holders must register their patents in the country to which they wish to register their IP customs notifications.

Trade Secrets: Generally, as trade secrets require that their owners keep the content of their secrets confidential in order to maintain its legal protections, any disclosure of such secrets to customs officials likely eliminates such secrets’ protections. Therefore, there does not appear to be any national customs IP notification systems that permit trade secret notification.

Copyright. Unlike trademarks and patents, a work qualifying for copyright protection in one country may qualify for copyright protection in other countries in order to allow foreign customs notification registration. However, depending on the country, foreign copyright authors may need to file a copyright registration in order to submit an IP customs notification. A work qualifies for international copyright protection under the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (Berne Convention) when it becomes attached. Attachment requires that the author of the work be a national of a Berne Convention country (Berne Convention countries), the author is a habitual resident of a Berne Convention country, that the work is first published in a Berne Convention country, or that the work is published in a Berne Convention country within 30 days after an initial publishing in a non-Berne Convention country. If a work is attached through any of these means, it is treated as if the work originated in each Berne Convention country, and is then subject to each Berne Convention country’s copyright protection requirements in order to qualify for copyright protection in that specific country.

If a work qualifies as an attached work under the Berne Convention and the IP rights holder wishes to register their protected work in a foreign Berne Convention country customs office, they will be able to file a customs registration without having authored the work in the foreign Berne Convention country. Yet, as mentioned above, countries differ on national copyright registration requirements for IP customs notifications. Australia, for example, does not require Australian copyright registration prior to submitting a customs notification application to the Australian Customs Service. However, several major markets, such as the U.S., China and India, require that copyrighted works be registered in their country prior to registering an IP customs notification.

Does the country you wish to enforce your IP rights have an IP customs notification system? Not all countries maintain IP customs notification processes. Some substantial and growing markets, such as Brazil, Canada and Chile, do not currently maintain IP custom notification systems. However, many major markets and transshipment countries maintain various types of IP customs notification systems including Argentina, Australia, China, European Union (EU), Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United States and Vietnam, among others.

Does such a country’s national IP customs notification system include the type of IP you wish to protect? Several countries only maintain IP notification systems for particular types of IP. For example, The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) only accepts copyright and trademark notifications, not patent notifications (the CBP only examines imports for patent infringement based on a Section 337 exclusion order from the U.S. International Trade Commission (more information available here)). In contrast, several other countries monitor and detain imports for possible patent and geographical indication infringement. India’s Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) in particular monitors imports for copyright, geographical indication, patent and trademark infringement.

What are the particular foreign customs agency’s IP notification requirements? Once an IP rights holder verifies that their IP qualifies for legal protections in the foreign country they wish to submit an IP customs notification, and that the type of IP they wish to notify customs about can be registered, the IP rights holder’s customs notification must comply with the foreign customs office’s own notification requirements.

Below are the IP customs notification submission requirements for some of the worlds’ major markets.

Governing Law

Types of IP Covered



United States 19 C.F.R. 133.1 et seq.
Copyright and Trademark Instructions: Copyright and trademark notification (known as e-Recordation) requires:

-Registering a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office or a copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office

-The trademark or copyright’s U.S. registration number

-The name, address and citizenship of the IP rights owner

-The place(s) of manufacture of goods bearing the trademark or copyright

-The name and address of individuals authorized to use the trademark or copyright

-The identity of a parent company or subsidiary authorized to use the trademark or copyright (if any)

Fees: US $190.00 per copyright and trademark (per class of goods and services).

Effective Duration of Notification: 20 years.

e-Recordation Notification Portal
Copyright Act 1968, Subsection 135(2)

Trade Marks Act 1995, Section 132

Copyright and   Trademark General Notes: Australian IP customs notifications are known as Notices of Objection.To register a copyright or trademark notice with Australian Customs Service, an IP rights holder must submit: (1) a notice of objection form; and (2) a deed of undertaking. Both types of forms as well as further instructions are located in the right column.

Duration of Notification: Four years.


Copyright Notice Instructions

Copyright Notice Form

Copyright Deed of Undertaking


Trademark Notice Instructions

Trademark Notice Form

Trademark Deed of Undertaking

China Decree of the General Administration of Customs, No. 183 Copyright, Patent and Trademark Requirements: To file a IP customs notification with the General Administration of Customs (GAC), an application must include:

-a copy of the IP rights holder’s business registration certificate and a Chinese translation

-a copy of the Chinese registration certificate for the copyright, patent or trademark

-Proof of Power of Attorney (if registered by an agent)

-Registration fee (see below)

-Licensing agreements (if any)

-Pictures of the relevant goods and their packaging

Submission: Forms can be filled online or by mail.

Fees:Approximately US $130.00 (800 RMB).

GAC Online Notification Form (In Chinese)
European Union Council Regulation (EC) No 1383/2003, Article 5.5 Copyright, Geographical Indication, Patent and Trademark The EU refers to IP customs notifications as Applications For Action. Applications require: (1) a completed application form; and (2) a completed Article 6 Declaration. Both forms are located to the right.

Note: Individual EU member states may maintain their own IP customs notification systems (a link to individual EU member state customs agencies is available here).

Community Application For Action

Community Article 6 Declaration

India  Notification no. 47/2007 – Customs (n.t.) Copyright, Geographical Indication, Patent and Trademark Registration: The CBEC requires that copyrighted works be registered with Indian Copyright Office, and geographical indications, patents and trademarks with the Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trade Marks prior to submitting a CBEC customs notification.

Ports of Entry: The CBEC also requires that notifications be submitted to particular ports of entry.

Duration of Notification: Minimum period of one (1) year.

Online Notification Submission Portal

**Note**: The above requirements are meant for comparative educational purposes only. IP rights holders should consult with national customs agencies or qualified attorneys in the jurisdictions they wish to enforce their rights to confirm these and other IP customs notification requirements.

Further Steps. Once an IP rights holder’s IP is registered with a foreign customs office, the foreign customs office will generally notify the rights holder or their representative of any infringing inbound shipments and may detain and potentially destroy infringing imports. However, such detentions may include legal proceedings, as well as additional country-specific enforcement procedures. IP rights holders should obtain qualified local counsel to assist with these enforcement activities.

Understanding International Copyright Protection Through The Grateful Dead

Understanding the complexities of international copyright law can be confusing. There are several factors for determining whether a work qualifies for copyright protection abroad, what countries a work qualifies for foreign protection in, and what foreign protections are afforded to qualifying works. To understand these complexities (and to show my readers, family, friends and co-workers that I am not an IP robot), I’ve decided to explain how international copyright protections can be understood in practice through the music of my favorite band, The Grateful Dead. The Dead were not only meticulous about recording their live concerts, they also allowed their fans to make concert recordings (FYI, a great examination of the Dead’s recording culture is available in Nick Paumgarten’s recent New Yorker article). Unparalleled in the music world, the Dead permitted their fans to non-commercially record and exchange recordings of their concerts despite such practices generally considered to be copyright infringement.

Beyond providing a lifetime of amazing improvisational music, the thousands of live concert recordings available highlight important issues to consider in determining a work’s copyright protection abroad. To examine these issues, I intend to share some of my favorite Dead recordings that are available from the Internet Archive and highlight several main issues to keep in mind when determining what copyright and related-legal protections a work qualifies for abroad. So here it goes…

Qualifying Works (Playing in the Band – May 17, 1974, P.N.E. Coliseum, Vancouver, B.C.): The two year period of 1973 and 1974 was a creative high-water mark for the Dead when some of their most inspirational and exploratory music was created. This 1974 version of Playing in the Band exemplifies this period with solid interplay between the band members that delves into space and jazz-themed improvisation before reprising after nearly 20 solid minutes of exploration.

This recording also highlights the complexity of determining whether a work qualifies for international copyright protection. In international copyright law, recordings such as this 1974 recording potentially provide international copyright protection to the song’s authors (aka songwriters) and/or composers under the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (Berne Convention), and its performers (aka musicians) under the Rome Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations (Rome Convention) and World Intellectual Property Organization Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT).

So not to confuse you too much, in this section I will focus on examining whether this 1974 recording of Playing in the Band qualifies its author and composer, The Grateful Dead’s longtime lyricist Robert Hunter and rhythm guitarist Bob Weir respectively, for international copyright protection under the Berne Convention. For this recording to qualify for potential international copyright protection under the Berne Convention, it must have what is known as “attached.” Attachment requires that either:

  • The author of the work is a national of a Berne Convention member state
  • The author of the work is a habitual resident of a Berne Convention member state
  • The work is first published in a Berne Convention member state or is published in a Berne Convention member state within 30 days after an initial publishing in a non-Berne Convention member state

A list of Berne Convention member states is available here.

Upon attachment and if a qualifying work qualifies for copyright protection under national copyright requirements, it is entitled to protections under that nation’s copyright laws.

Based on these Berne Convention attachment requirements, both Weir and Hunter would likely qualify for international copyright protections in this recording in two ways (*For the sake of analysis, we will assume this 1974 recording was the first publishing of Playing in the Band, although it had been played since 1971). Although this 1974 concert occurred prior to the U.S. becoming a signatory to the Berne Convention and was written/composed by two U.S. nationals, the fact the recording was made in Canada (a Berne Convention member state since 1928) likely means it was first published in a Berne Convention country, qualifying it for attachment under the Berne Convention immediately on May 17, 1974 and potential protections in Berne Convention member states subject to such states’ national copyright protection requirements.

Additionally, the Berne Convention applies retroactively to qualifying works from authors and composers from new member states upon such countries accession to the Convention, subject to national qualifications. This means that once the U.S. became a contracting member of the Berne Convention on March 1, 1989, this recording likely became attached as a qualifying work for protection under the Berne Convention on that date as protections under the Convention began to apply retroactivity to prior published works by U.S. nationals that remain protectable under U.S. copyright terms of protection (see Term of Protections section below for further details). Upon such qualification, Hunter and Weir’s work would then qualify for protection in Berne Convention member states, subject to such countries’ copyright qualifications.

Performers Rights (Fire on the Mountain – October 2, 1977, Paramount Theater, Portland, Oregon): I could have chosen any song to illustrate performers rights, but I chose this recording simply because Fire on The Mountain is one of my favorite Dead songs and this 1977 version from my home state is arguably one of the best ever. Beyond being a first-rate soundboard recording that highlights Keith Godchaux’s rare playing of electric keyboards, it possesses almost psychic interplay between the band members.

This song and its 1977 performance also represent the disparity of copyright protections between authors/composers and performers in a recording. The Berne Convention only extends copyright protections in a work to authors and composers, not performers. Fire on The Mountain was written by Robert Hunter and composed by Dead percussionist Mickey Hart. Despite the entire band’s inspirational playing in this 1977 recording, every band member with the exception of Hart would have little to no international copyright protections in this recording under the Berne Convention based on their non-author/composer status.

However, the Dead members may potentially qualify for international protections in this recording under the Rome Convention or the WPPT. The Rome Convention recognizes performers rights in qualifying performance recordings by providing rights to compensation for broadcasting and reproduction of such recordings, and exclusive rights to prevent unauthorized broadcasting, fixation and reproduction. However, similar to the Berne Convention, recordings must qualify for attachment under the Rome Convention. Such attachment only qualifies for protection for its performers if either:

  • The performance takes place in a Rome Convention member state
  • It is a qualifying recording (first published or recorded in a Rome Convention member state or the producer is a national of a Rome Convention member state)
  • It is a qualifying broadcast (the broadcaster or the transmission was from a Rome Convention member state).

A list of Rome Convention member states is available here.

Unfortunately, the Rome Convention would likely not provide international copyright protections for the band members in this 1977 recording. The U.S. is not a signatory to the Rome Convention (FYI, it is mainly because the U.S. does not recognize a performer’s copyright in a recording). As this 1977 performance was performed in the U.S., by U.S. performers and not broadcasted, it does not qualify as an attached work under the Rome Convention, thereby not requiring any Rome Convention member state to recognize its copyright protection.

It is important to note that even if this recording had qualified for Rome Convention protection, it would have provided less international protections than the Berne Convention. The Rome Convention’s exclusive rights for performers in a work are optional, not required. Additionally, the Rome Convention has fewer signatories than the Berne Convention (91 Rome signatories to 166 Berne signatories). These limitations mean that fewer countries will acknowledge a performer’s rights in a qualifying recording under the Rome Convention than an author’s rights in a qualifying recording under the Berne Convention, and even if countries are Rome Convention member states, they have the ability to limit their recognition of performers’ rights in foreign recordings.

The WPPT (A list of WPPT member states is available here) may provide the band members performance rights in the 1977 recording, yet these international protections are also less comprehensive than those provided under the Berne Convention. The WPPT requires its signatories to extend rights in a recording to performers of other WPPT member states. Provided rights to performers under the WPPT include the right to compensation and exclusive rights including reproduction, distribution and performance, among others. However, like the Rome Convention, the WPPT has a smaller number of signatories (currently 91 countries) than the Berne Convention and member states can withhold implementing the WPPT’s performer rights and protections. The U.S. in particular has elected such limitations. This means all Dead band members do likely qualify for WPPT rights in this 1977 recording as performers, but they only qualify for such protections in the 91 countries, and even in those countries, their rights may be subject to limitations or exclusion, as seen in the U.S.’ non-recognition of the WPPT’s performer rights.

As a result of analyzing protection qualifications in these three treaties, only Hunter and Hart, as an author and composer respectively, qualify for potentially effective international copyright protections in this recording based on their Berne Convention protections. Unfortunately, the other members may only potentially qualify for certain rights in a limited amount of countries under the WPPT.

Term of Protections (Not Fade Away – November 2, 1979, Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, N.Y.): A staple at Dead concerts, Buddy Holly and Norman Petty’s Not Fade Away was a testament to the strength and size of love (“bigger than a Cadillac” for example) and an excellent springboard into some intense jams. Late 70’s versions of Not Fade Away, such as this 1979 recording, are particularly exceptional due to their extended improvisations.

Works such as Not Fade Away also highlight an important issue in international copyright law, namely the duration to which a work is granted copyright protection. Under the Berne Convention, member states must afford copyright protection to qualifying works for the life of the author and for 50 years after their death. Contrastingly, the WPPT grants protection for performers in recordings for 50 years from when the recording was made, while the Rome Convention only affords 20 years of protection for performers from when a recording is made.

As with rights in the Fire on the Mountain recording above, the protection terms given to the authors/composers and performers in this 1979 recording are disproportionate. As widely known, Buddy Holly died in a horrific plane crash in 1959 (which also killed Richie Vallens and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson). Petty died in 1984. Based on the date of their deaths, Holly’s copyright protections as an author of Not Fade Away under the Berne Convention expired in 2009, while Petty’s rights will continue to remain active until 2034. For all of the Dead band members, their protections under the Rome Convention as performers expired in 1999 (FYI, they would not have had any rights under the Rome Convention anyway – see Performers Rights section above) and their rights in this recording under the WPPT are set to expire in 2029.

However, it is important to note that some Berne Convention member states may provide extended copyright protection terms for authors. For example, the U.S. and Australia extend copyright protection rights for the life of the author plus 70 years after their death. If qualifying as protectable works under the Berne Convention and both U.S. and Australian copyright law, Holly and Petty’s copyright protections in Not Fade Away will remain active in the U.S. and Australia until 2029 and 2054 respectively.

Conclusion: Besides providing some spectacular recordings, I hope this short analysis helps to understand some main issues in international copyright law that can assist in determining the extent of foreign protections in a particular work.

What are your favorite Dead shows? What international copyright issues are you facing?

**Important Note**: The legal issues highlighted herein are hypothetical. Additionally, this article is neither approved nor endorsed by The Grateful Dead, Nick Paumgarten, the New Yorker magazine, the Internet Achieve or any related parties.