Tagged: #cross-border

Presentation on Cross Border IP Protection for U.S. and Canadian Businesses

For those interested in U.S. and Canadian IP protection issues, I will be giving a presentation at the April 2, 2015 King County Bar Association (KCBA) – Intellectual Property Section meeting in Seattle, Washington on U.S. and Canadian cross-border IP protection issues. Particularly, the presentation will cover IP protection issues that U.S. businesses should consider as they expand into Canada, and conversely, IP issues Canadian businesses should consider as they enter the U.S. market.

The April 2nd KCBA IP Section meeting will be held at KCBA’s headquarters at 1200 Fifth Avenue, Suite 700, Seattle, Washington 98101. A webcast of the meeting will be made available to KCBA IP Section members. Further details on the webcast are available here.

Hope you can make it!

Online Copyright and Trademark Enforcement Seminar

Wanted to let you all know that I will be speaking on cross-border online copyright and trademark enforcement at a Washington State Bar Association – International Practice Section seminar on January 20, 2015 at Noon at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP in Seattle, Washington.

Titled Online Copyright and Trademark Enforcement in the U.S. and Abroad, the seminar will cover issues in obtaining cross-border protection for copyrighted works and trademarks, understanding copyright and trademark enforcement systems in the U.S. and other jurisdictions, and using copyright and trademark enforcement measures on major online social media and retail sites such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, Baidu and others.

Further information on attending the seminar can be found here.

Hope you can make it. It should be fun!

Part IV: Enforcing Online Copyright Protection Abroad: North and Central America

I come back to you again with part IV of my plan to cover online copyright enforcement procedures throughout the world—this time North and Central America. Although several Central American countries agreed to adopt notice and takedown procedures under the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA; U.S., Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua), such countries are at varying levels of adopting such provisions.

Determining whether owners or rights holders of a copyright-protected work (collectively, “Rights Holders”) can enforce rights in their work online and abroad depends on multiple factors. This includes: (1) whether a work qualifies for foreign protection (aka national treatment) under the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (Berne Convention) and/or the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS); (2) whether the Internet service provider (ISP) hosting the infringing use of the work is subject to jurisdiction in the country where online enforcement is sought; and (3) what online copyright enforcement procedures are available in the country of enforcement.

Each of these issues have been previously examined here and those with further questions should consult with a qualified attorney.

Below are the current online copyright enforcement procedures in each North and Central American country. However, a couple of preliminary notes:

Classifications: A North and Central American country that maintains legal protocols for a Rights Holder to directly petition an ISP to remove infringing content in order for the ISP to qualify for safe harbor protection from contributory liability for copyright infringement is identified below as a “Notice and Takedown System” country. A country that maintain systems that simply require ISPs to notify infringing subscribers of their allegedly infringing acts without removal requirements for safe harbor protection are identified as a “Notice and Notice System” country. A country that does not provide legal provisions for a Rights Holder to directly enforce their copyright protections through an ISP notification system, and are instead forced to seek copyright enforcement through that country’s judicial system are referred to as a “Judicial System” country.

Notice Limitations: Unfortunately, even if a country listed below maintains a Notice and Takedown System, an ISP may still refuse to disable access to an allegedly infringing website or website content upon receipt of a Rights Holder’s infringement notice. In such instances, a Rights Holder may be forced to seek enforcement through that foreign country’s legal system in order to remove such online content.

Time Sensitivity: As several of the listed countries in this posting are evaluating or are in the process of implementing copyright reforms, either through legislation or judicial action, there is the possibility that the following online copyright enforcement information may soon change.

United States

Enforcement System: Notice and Takedown System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: The Digital Millennium Copyright Act establishes the notice and takedown procedure for a Rights Holder to inform ISPs of infringing content. Once a ISP has received a Rights Holder’s notice, an ISP has to prevent access to such infringing content in order to qualify for safe harbor protection from contributory copyright infringement. The U.S. has pushed for such  requirements to be implemented in a number of countries to whom its has concluded free trade agreements (FTAs) including Australia, Colombia, Peru, DR-CAFTA, and others.

Governing Legislation: Digital Millennium Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. § 512(c)(3)(A))

Notice Requirements:

-Identification of the copyrighted work(s) claimed to have been infringed;
-Identification of the online 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);
-Information reasonably sufficient to permit the ISP to contact the Rights Holder (address, telephone number, e-mail, etc.);
-A statement that the Rights Holder has a good faith belief that the use of their content in the identified online material is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law;
-A statement that the information provided in the notice is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that the Rights Holder is authorized to act on behalf of the Rights Holder of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed; and
-A Rights Holder’s physical or electronic signature.

Belize

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Belize does not currently provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notice from Rights Holders.

Governing Legislation: Copyright Act – Cap. 252

Notice Requirements: N/A

Canada

Enforcement System: Notice and Notice System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Canada adopted the Copyright Modernization Act in June 2012, which included a formal notice and notice system. Although the adoption of such a system provides some means for Rights Holders to directly enforce rights in their works, the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) had questioned whether Canada’s notice and notice system provides sufficient legal incentives for Canada-based ISPs to removing infringing content upon request, and ultimately whether it is an effective means for Rights Holders to directly enforce rights in their works.

It is important to note that Canada may soon be required to implement notice and takedown provisions if the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is finalized and the U.S. draft chapter is adopted in a final TPP agreement.

Governing Legislation: Section 41.25-41.27, Copyright Modernization ActCopyright Act.

Notice Requirements:

-Must be in writing;
-The Rights Holder’s name, address and other relevant communication information;
-Identify the work or other subject-matter to which the claimed infringement relates;
-State the Rights Holder’s interest or right to the work or other subject-matter;
-Specify the online location where the claimed infringement occurs;
-Specify the claimed infringement;
-Specify the date and time of the claimed infringement; and
-Provide any other information or as provided by other Canadian regulations.

Costa Rica

Enforcement System: Notice and Notice System (Minimal)

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Costa Rica is a DR-CAFTA signatory country, yet it has not fully adopted notice and takedown provisions as provided under Ch. 15, Section 15.11.27(ix) of the agreement. In 2011, Costa Rica adopt notice and notice provisions in Decree No. 36,880 COMEX-JP. However, the IIPA has criticized these legislative reforms as the Decree only mandates that an ISP notify an infringing subscriber of their alleged infringing act upon notice from a Rights Holder, and that such notification only needs to be communicated to the subscriber in question within 45 days of a Rights Holder’s notification to an ISP.

Governing Legislation: Law No. 8863 on Copyright and Related Rights, Decree No. 36,880 COMEX-JP

Notice Requirements (derived from an unofficial translation):

-Expressly and accurately identify the rights allegedly infringed;
-Provide an in-country address or location to receive notifications concerning the notice;
-Identify the infringing material and its online location; and
-Provide other accurate and timely information to enable the ISP to fully identify the subscriber or supplier of the allegedly infringing material.

El Salvador

Enforcement System: Notice and Takedown System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: El Salvador is a DR-CAFTA signatory country, mandating that it adopt notice and takedown provisions detailed under Ch. 15, Section 15.11.27(ix) of the agreement. In 2005, El Salvador passed copyright legislative reforms under Legislative Decree No. 912 that included the adoption of notice and takedown provisions, granting ISPs safe harbor for contributory liability for copyright infringement by acting on a notice of alleged infringement from Rights Holders. However, Decree No. 912 provided no specific notice requirements.

Governing Legislation: Law on the Promotion and Protection of Intellectual Property Rights as amended by Legislative Decree No. 912

Notice Requirements: Unspecified

Guatemala

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Guatemala is a DR-CAFTA signatory country, mandating that it adopt notice and takedown provisions detailed under Ch. 15, Section 15.11.27(ix) of the agreement. However, Guatemala has not passed any legislative reforms to adopt notice and takedown provisions, and it does not currently appear to provide any express legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notification from Rights Holders.

Governing Legislation: Law on Copyright and Related Rights and Regulations Under the Law on Copyrights and Related Rights

Notice Requirements: N/A

Honduras

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Honduras is a DR-CAFTA signatory country, mandating that it adopt notice and takedown provisions detailed under Ch. 15, Section 15.11.27(ix) of the agreement. However, Honduras has not passed any legislative reforms to adopt notice and takedown provisions, and it does not currently appear to provide any express legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notification from Rights Holders.

Governing Legislation: Copyright and Neighboring Rights Law

Notice requirements: N/A

Mexico

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Mexico does not currently appear to provide any legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notification from Rights Holders.

However, Mexico may soon be required to implement notice and takedown provisions or notice and notice provisions if the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is finalized and it includes such provisions as has been proposed.

Governing Legislation: Federal Law on Copyright

Notice Requirements: N/A

Nicaragua

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Nicaragua is a DR-CAFTA signatory country, obligating that it adopt notice and takedown provisions mandated under Ch. 15, Section 15.11.27(ix) of the agreement. However, Nicaragua has not passed any legislative reforms to adopt notice and takedown provisions, and it does not currently appear to provide any express legal incentives or procedures for ISPs to remove hosted infringing content upon notification from Rights Holders.

Governing Legislation: Law of Copyright and Neighboring Rights, Law on Amendments and Additions to Law of Copyright and Neighboring Rights (Law No. 577 of 2006)

Notice Requirements: N/A

Panama

Enforcement System: Judicial System

Berne Convention Member: Yes

Overview and Notes: Panama ratified a FTA with the U.S. (U.S.-Panama FTA) that mandated under Ch. 15.11, Article 15.11, Section 27(a) of the agreement that Panama adopt “legal incentives for service providers to cooperate with copyright owners in deterring the unauthorized storage and transmission of copyrighted materials.” However, Panama does not appear to have adopted any such “incentives” through a notice and takedown system or a notice and notice system.

Governing Legislation: Law No. 64 on Copyright and Neighboring Rights

Notice Requirements: N/A

Parting Notes: As I have mentioned in previous posts, it is important to note that there are issues to consider after a takedown notice has been submitted. First, an alleged infringer may respond to a Rights Holder notification by submitting a counter notice attesting to their rights in a protected work, even after their online content or website has been blocked or removed. Also, an ISP may refuse to act after a takedown notice has been submitted. If these circumstances arise, one should consider contacting a qualified attorney to discuss further actions. Good luck!

Special thanks to Sara Parker, recent Seattle University School of Law graduate and new member of the Washington State Bar for her assistance.

European Commission Reports on Annual Counterfeit Customs Enforcement; Counterfeits by Mail Being Increasingly Targeted

Check out my post today on The IPKat about the European Commission’s recent annual report on EU counterfeit enforcement efforts and how EU customs authorities and rights holders have recently increased their efforts to stop the flow of counterfeit goods arriving by mail into the EU.

It is available at: http://ipkitten.blogspot.com/2014/08/ec-reports-on-annual-counterfeit.html.

 

 

 

EU Expands Enforcement Protections Against Counterfeit Goods: What IP Rights Holders Should Know

Last month, the European Parliament passed legislation and the European Court of Justice (CJEU) handed down a ruling that expands trade-related intellectual property (IP) protections in the European Union (EU) and beyond. Particularly, the European Parliament passed laws granting EU customs officials the ability to detain trademark counterfeit transshipments transiting the EU, while the CJEU ruled that EU customs authorities can seize counterfeit goods in the EU that were purchased for personal use from sellers outside the EU. Although these are positive developments that provide IP rights holders the ability to stem the flow of infringing goods, and ultimately better enforce their IP rights across borders, they also have important requirements and limitations that need to be understood.

Counterfeit Transshipments. On February 25th, the European Parliament approved amendments to the EU’s main trademark act (Council Regulation (EC) 207/2009) that will permit EU customs authorities to seize suspected trademark counterfeit goods that are being transshipped through the EU. According to reports, these reforms follow previous limitations on customs seizures that were handed down in recent CJEU decisions. Particularly, a joint 2011 CJEU decision (Koninklijke Philips Electronics NV v. Lucheng Meijing Industrial Co. Ltd. (C-446/09) and Nokia Corporation v. HMRC (C-495/09)) held that copyright and trademark counterfeit goods could only be seized by EU customs officials if they were intended for sale in the EU, and not merely transiting through EU territory.

The new Directive (T7-0118/2014) is an attempt to reverse (in part) the 2011 joint CJEU ruling by granting EU trademark owners expanded rights to legal action. According to the legislative text, a EU trademark owner will have the right to prevent others from bringing non-circulated goods into the EU that bear the owner’s trademark without authorization. This includes the “right to request national customs authorities to take action in respect of goods which allegedly infringe the [IP rights holder’s] rights.”

Beyond giving IP rights holders valuable protection against the flow of counterfeit goods into the EU, the Directive also has IP protection implications beyond Europe. According to the latest statistics available from the World Shipping Council, eight of the 50 largest container ports in the world are located in the EU. The Directive thereby gives IP rights holders the ability to stop counterfeit goods leaving a substantial number of the world’s major transshipment points, thereby limiting the global dissemination of goods infringing their marks.

Although the reforms are a welcomed enhancement of cross-border protections for IP rights holders, there are a few considerations and limitations IP rights holders should be aware of:

Trademarks Only. The Directive only applies to trademarks. Although an IP rights holder can register their EU trademarks, copyright, patents and geographical indications for monitoring by EU customs officials, the Directive’s transshipment protections only apply to trademark counterfeit goods. Similar measures may be soon adopted to prevent transshipments of counterfeit copyright goods through the EU as the European Commission is currently evaluating copyright reforms. Yet, the Directive’s exclusion of copyright counterfeit goods is particularly problematic as copyright counterfeit goods constitute a substantial amount of counterfeit goods being transshipped through the EU and other major markets.

Community Trademark Registration Required. To qualify for transshipment counterfeit protections under the Directive, a trademark owner would likely need to register their mark on a community-wide (EU) level with the Office of Harmonization for the Internal Market (OHIM). Each EU member state maintains their own trademark offices, granting a registered mark exclusive protection in their state respectively. Yet, a trademark owner would likely need a community trademark registration to qualify for the Directive’s transshipment protections as the Directive’s text only identifies “European Union trademarks” as qualifying for such protections. Fortunately, qualifying foreign IP rights holders may be able to more easily (and cheaply) obtain community registration(s) through registering their trademark(s) through the Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks (Madrid Protocol). However, requiring a community trademark registration to qualify for the Directive’s new protections puts EU member state trademark owners at a disadvantage compared to community trademark owners.

Customs Recordation Required. A trademark owner or rights holder would need to record their community trademark registration with EU customs authorities to qualify for the Directive’s new transshipment protections. Although customs recordation is not a specific requirement under the Directive to qualify for the enhanced transshipment protections, it is required to ensure EU customs officials are made aware of a community mark owner’s or right holder’s registration.

Directive Has Yet to be Enacted. Lastly, it is important to note that the Directive has yet to be enacted in EU member states and it remains to be seen how it will be implemented. EU member states have 30 months to implement the new Directive into their national laws, and although they are obligated to adopt the laws effectively and in the spirit of the Directive, the member states’ implementing legislation may have specific divergences.

Counterfeits for Personal Use. On February 6, 2014, CJEU ruled in Blomqvist v. Rolex SA (C‑98/13) that EU customs officials could seize and destroy non-EU originating counterfeit goods in the EU that were purchased by EU citizens for personal use. In Blomqvist, a Danish citizen bought a fake Rolex watch from a Chinese online seller. When the watch entered Denmark, Danish customs reported the suspected counterfeit to Rolex’s IP rights holder, who in turn demanded the destruction of the counterfeit watch. Danish courts found that because the counterfeit watch was purchased from a non-EU seller who was not directly selling or advertising to EU consumers, and because the watch was purchased for personal use, such a purchase did not constitute trademark or copyright infringement by the purchaser under Danish law.

The CJEU in Blomqvist reversed and found that Rolex’s copyright and trademarks were infringed, and that a EU IP rights holder does not have to prove that a non-EU seller was directly trying to sell or advertise counterfeit goods for personal use in the EU in order for EU customs officials to seize imports of the counterfeit goods. Under the EU’s previous customs regulations (Council Regulation 1383/2003), a EU trademark or copyright owner would have to prove that the counterfeit seller was directly trying to market their counterfeit goods to EU consumers in order for the personal purchase to be subject to infringement and seizure. As reported by commentators, the Blomqvist Court differed from the Council Regulation by establishing that an IP rights holder is entitled to protection of their EU trademark or copyright whenever an infringement of the same occurs in EU territory, and that counterfeit goods can be seized whenever such infringing goods enter EU territory.

Although the Blomqvist ruling gives IP rights holders stronger protections against foreign counterfeit sellers, like the Directive, there are considerations and limitations IP rights holders should be aware of:

EU IP Protection and Customs Recordation Required. Like the Directive, a trademark or copyright owner would need to ensure that their IP qualifies for protection in the EU and that they have recorded such IP with EU customs authorities in order to qualify for protections under Blomqvist.

Additional Investigation Suggested. Qualifying IP rights owners will likely need to investigate and track suspected non-EU counterfeit sellers to determine when and to whom they are selling personal counterfeit goods to ensure effective protection under Blomqvist. Rolex was fortunate in Blomqvist that a single counterfeit of their watch was detected by EU customs authorities. Unfortunately, not all brands are as well known as Rolex. A similar counterfeit personal purchase shipment for a lesser known brand may not have been as easily identified by EU customs authorities. These circumstances mean that an IP rights holder may need to perform their own monitoring to effectively detect personal shipments of counterfeit goods entering the EU. Unfortunately, this can be an expensive service that many IP rights owners do not have the resources to obtain.

What’s The Takeaway? These recent EU counterfeit enforcement reforms show that the EU is serious about preventing the cross-border flow of counterfeit goods. IP rights owners who have had problems with IP enforcement in the EU or through transshipments originating in the EU, now (or will soon) have enhanced means to protect their IP against counterfeits. Despite these advancements, IP rights holders should work closely with their counsel to ensure they understand and comply with the requirements and limitations of these recent reforms.

New USTR and IIPA Reports Describe the Current State of IP Protections for U.S. Businesses Abroad

Over the last week, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) released reports on the current state of intellectual property (IP) protections for U.S. businesses abroad. These reports provide updated insights on foreign countries and foreign retail markets (both physical and online) that have recently caused U.S. businesses the most IP protection difficulties.

Here is a summary of the reports:

IIPA 2014 Special 301 Report Submission

On February 8th, the IIPA submitted their 2014 Special 301 Report Submission to the USTR. As one of the largest U.S. lobbying groups for the copyright-based industries, the IIPA’s submission identifies the foreign countries the IIPA believes provides the most ineffective IP legal protections for U.S. businesses. The USTR’s final Special 301 Report (released annually April-May) provides reporting to the U.S. government and the general public on the countries that, according to the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act (19 U.S.C. § 2242(a)), deny “adequate and effective protection of [IP] rights” or “fair and equitable market access to United States persons that rely upon [IP] protection.”

Although the U.S. government rarely imposes trade sanctions based on the Special 301 Report, a country’s listing in the final report often impacts the U.S.’ trade relations with that country and the degree to which the U.S. government initiates trade promotional activities with the same. From both a private sector and practical standpoint, the Report also represents a review of the markets that U.S. businesses have had the most IP protection challenges.

What countries did the IIPA recommend for inclusion in the 2014 Special 301 Report?

Priority Foreign Countries. For a second year in a row, the IIPA has identified Ukraine as being a “Priority Foreign Country.” This is the least favorable designation available under the Special 301 reporting system. Specifically, it identifies that country as one with the “most onerous or egregious acts, policies, or practices” that “have the greatest adverse impact (actual or potential) on the relevant [U.S.] products” without making efforts to ameliorate their status. 19 U.S.C. § 2242(b)(1)). Ukraine’s designation as a Priority Foreign Country was based on a number of factors, most notably the absence of effective online copyright enforcement, and unfair and non-transparent royalty society collections. Shockingly, the classification was also based on reports of widespread software pirating by Ukrainian government agencies.

Priority Watch List and Watch List Countries. The IIPA’s Special 301 Report Submission lists Argentina, Chile, China, Costa Rica, India, Indonesia, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam on the “Priority Watch List,” and Belarus, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Ecuador, Greece, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Mexico, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan as “Watch List” countries. Although not as a severe rating as a Priority Foreign Country, being listed as a country on the Priority Watch List or simply Watch List means that a country has potential IP protection deficiencies that require varying levels of USTR monitoring.

Newly Non-Listed Countries. It is also important to note that the IIPA has recommended removing a number of countries from the final 2014 Special 301 Report due to their improvements in IP protection. These countries include Barbados, Bolivia, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Finland, Guatemala, Jamaica, Lebanon, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela.

Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets

Also, on Wednesday, the USTR released an Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets that identified physical and online markets reported by U.S. businesses and industry organizations as being engaged in substantial IP piracy and counterfeiting. The Review includes particular social media and file transferring sites hosted abroad, including sites hosted in Antigua and Barbuda, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Finland (possibly), Netherlands, Poland, Russian Federation, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Vietnam. Specific physical markets in Argentina, China, Colombia, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Paraguay, Spain, Thailand and Ukraine were also deemed notorious.

What’s The Takeaway? Every foreign market has its own IP protection challenges. U.S. businesses that are exploring expansion into new markets should consider the IIPA’s Special 301 Report Submission (as well as the USTR’s Final Special 301 Report due out later this year), and the USTR’s Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets to help evaluate the IP risks associated with such markets. Doing so can help to ensure that such businesses can better protect their IP assets as they expand.

Don’t Be Scared of Havarti! Geographical Indication Issues Exporting Businesses Should Consider

Late last month, the European Commission approved for publication (pre-registration) a geographical indication (GI) application for the Danish cheese HAVARTI. This raised concern amongst interested industry groups, and should cause concern amongst all export-focused businesses. Similar to trademarks, and particularly certification marks, GIs are legal protection granting producers of a particular type of product from a specific geographical region the exclusive right to use the geographical region’s name (or a regionally-known name) on their products and in related promotions. Being an exclusive right, GIs exclude producers from other regions from labeling and marketing similar or identical products under the same GI name. This means, for example, that a U.S. sparkling wine can never be sold as CHAMPAGNE in the EU, or a Kenyan tea as DARJEELING in India. If registered, the EU HAVARTI GI would exclude non-Danish cheese producers from labeling and promoting their Havarti cheeses in the EU as HAVARTI.

So what’s concerning about the potential EU HAVARTI GI registration for non-dairy businesses? Well, industry groups such as the Consortium for Common Food Names (CCFN) argue that allowing the EU HAVARTI GI application to be registered would contravene international standards by prohibiting non-Danish cheese producers from labeling and promoting their own Havarti cheeses in the EU as HAVARTI, even if they meet recognized international Havarti cheese production standards. From an intellectual property perspective, the registration would arguably expand EU GI protections to common (generic) named products. Commonly named GIs such as DIJON for mustard and CHEDDAR for cheese have traditionally been restricted from GI protection due to their common vernacular usage. HAVARTI is a widely known cheese variety this is arguably as generic as these other excluded food names. By allowing HARVARTI’s potential GI registration, the European Commission could possibly allow other generic named products to be registered as GIs, thereby hindering the promotional efforts, and ultimately success of many foreign goods in the EU.

Although the potential HAVARTI EU GI registration only directly impacts the global dairy industry and the EU market, it does underscore general issues all export-focused businesses should be aware of concerning GIs. Many businesses are unfamiliar with GIs, much less the extent to which GIs can impact their expansion and success in new foreign markets. GIs are granted legal protections in multiple countries for a wide array of goods, and can significantly impact a business’ foreign operations.

Below are some GI issues businesses should consider when entering new foreign markets:

Know the Practical Differences Between GIs and Trademarks. Before understanding what GIs restrictions a business may face in a foreign market, a business needs to recognize how GIs and trademarks differ. Unlike trademarks, GIs do not indicate or represent a individual business or their goods and services. They instead represent protections for the local conditions—natural or human-made (depending on the country)—that give products from a region their qualities and reputation. Based on these localized and natural characteristics, GIs cannot be extended, shared, or transferred to producers outside the region, and cannot be cancelled once registered. Further, in many countries that grant GIs legal protection such as the EU, member state governments, not individual producers or businesses, prosecute GI infringement claims. This means a foreign business can be assured that their unauthorized use of a registered GI in a foreign market will more likely subject them to a greater risk of legal action in that country compared to the threat of a lawsuit from a individual trademark owner.

The bottom line is that GIs prohibit exporting businesses from promoting and selling their goods in a particular country under a registered GI without much recourse.

Determine if an Export Market Recognize GIs—and to What Degree. After understanding the important differences between GIs and trademarks, businesses need to then evaluate whether the markets they wish to export to have GI protections and the extent of such protections. Nearly all countries recognize GIs for wines and alcoholic beverages through their World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments. Under Articles 22 and 23 of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), WTO member states are required to extend specific GI protections for wines and alcoholic beverages, and to a reduced degree other agricultural and natural products. Most common law jurisdictions (U.S., Australia, and Japan, etc.) generally only extend GI protections to wines and alcohol beverages based on their WTO commitments. Yet, many countries, including several substantial markets, have gone beyond TRIPS’ minimum standards by providing enhanced GI protections to non-wine and alcohol agricultural products, and even non-agricultural products. The EU, China, India, and Russia, among others, extend the same level of legal protection to all agricultural and natural product GIs. Brazil, China, India, Russia, and Switzerland even extend GI protections to human made goods such as handcrafts and textiles.

Determine if There are Existing GI Registrations for Your Goods. Once a business determines whether the market(s) they wish to export their goods possess GI protections, they must evaluate whether the names of the goods they wish to use on their goods and related promotions are registered GIs. To do so, businesses must examine national GI registers in such export market(s).

Below are GI registers for some of the world’s major GI jurisdictions.

Country

Governing Agency

National GI Register

Brazil

National Institute of Industrial Property (Instituto Nacional da Propriedade Industrial -INPI)

INPI GI Registry

China

General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine

GI Product List

European Union

European Commission

Database of Origin and Registration (DOOR) Database

India

The Controller General of Patents, Designs, and Trade Marks

GI Registry

Russia

Federal Institute of Industrial Property

Register of Appellation of Origin of Goods

What’s the Takeaway? As the nature of GI protections are evolving in many of the world’s major markets such as the EU, businesses need to be even more aware of GIs and how they impact their operations in foreign markets. Due to the significant implications GIs have on the labeling and marketing of exported goods, businesses should work with qualified counsel to ensure that they comply with existing GI registrations to ultimately take advantage of foreign markets opportunities.

A Look Back Over The IP Exporter’s First Year

Photo courtesy of Abdallah Iskandarani.

Earlier this month, I received a message from WordPress notifying me of the one year anniversary of The IP Exporter. As blogging on cross-border and trade-related IP issues over the past year has had results that I never imagined, I thought I would take this opportunity to take a look back at some of my impressions over the past year.

The outpouring of support and feedback I have received from other legal practitioners and those with an interest in the ever-changing world of cross-border IP protection has been the most remarkable aspect of blogging for The IP Exporter. Attorneys and IP specialists from all over the world have not only read my blog (which is a shock in itself!) and shared it with friends and colleagues, but they actually commented on it and told me that it helped in their research and the actual legal issues they were facing. As a relatively young attorney, I have been heartened by this positive feedback. Also, such communication has led to a number of guest writing and professional legal opportunities that I would not have had without blogging.

Another amazing thing I have found about blogging for the The IP Exporter has been seeing which cross-border IP issues have struck accord with my readers. Each time I blog, I am unsure whether an issue I think is interesting is relevant or important to my readers. Some postings I have made on issues that I think are not earth shattering, such as whether to register a trademark in India under the Madrid Protocol or directly through India’s trademark office (The Controller General of Patents Designs and Trademarks), have been the most read postings I have written.

Lastly, the ability to connect with people throughout the world has made blogging an amazing experience. I never thought people from so many different countries would read The IP Exporter. To date, readers from over 90 countries have read The IP Exporter, and much of my readership comes from places I never expected, such as India, Malaysia and Russia. I am also continually amazed about what I blog or tweet about, much of which takes place in countries on the other side of the globe, have resulted in direct feedback from those in such countries. For instance, when I tweeted in July this year about a story on how a hair salon in Dubai, United Arab Emirates was using promotional materials that were alleged to be confusingly similar to Facebook’s protected branding, I received the above photo soon thereafter by a local resident who found it on his car. Although, it is not a complete surprise that I would receive such feedback in this globalized age, I still find it remarkable.

What’s The Takeaway? Blogging over the past year has been an amazing experience. It has made me grow as a writer and as a legal practitioner. More than personal and professional growth, it has made me realize how large a need there is for people to know more about cross-border and trade-related IP issues. The culmination of these experiences has energized me and my efforts to blog on these topics.

What cross-border or trade-related IP issues are you facing?

Canada Considers Tougher Counterfeit Protections; Foreign Rights Owners to Benefit

The Canadian Parliament reintroduced proposed legislation late last month that will dramatically impact how foreign copyright and trademark owners can protect their rights in Canada, and ultimately around the world. Reported to be enacted by the end of this year, the Combatting Counterfeit Products Act (Bill C-56; CCPA) proposes specific amendments to Canada’s Copyright Act and the Trade-marks Act that will allow foreign rights owners to better control the cross-border flow of counterfeit goods in Canada. The CCPA provides several notable reforms, including the expansion of registerable trademarks and new claims of recovery for trademark counterfeit goods. However, I believe its most important proposed reform is the establishment of a system allowing rights owners to register their copyrighted works and trademarks with Canadian authorities—while gaining help in detaining counterfeit shipments entering and leaving Canada.

The CCPA’s proposed request and detention system is an expansion of legal protections against counterfeit goods under current Canadian law because it introduces non-judicial measures rights owners can use to prevent the import and export of counterfeit goods in Canada. Currently, rights owners must obtain a Canadian court order to halt infringing imports and exports of counterfeit goods in and out of Canada. The CCPA addresses these limitations by allowing copyright and trademark owners to file a request for assistance with the Ministry of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness (Ministry). This allows Canada’s border authority, the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA), to monitor inbound and outbound shipments of counterfeit products for a two-year period, and temporarily detain counterfeit good shipments to allow further investigation.

Although rights owners will be required to provide a security deposit and fees for a detention, the request and detention system will provide a more expedient, inexpensive and overall more effective means for foreign rights owners to prevent the dissemination of counterfeit products, both in Canada and beyond. Filing a request for assistance with the Ministry is a faster and relatively less expensive procedure that seeking a court order. It also allows the CBSA to assist in policing shipments, complementing any monitoring activities conducted by foreign rights owners, and ultimately improving a foreign right owner’s overall global IP enforcement efforts.

Despite these benefits, the proposed request and detention system also has limitations:

Goods for Personal Use: The CCPA’s system does not cover counterfeit goods for personal use, such as those in personal baggage.

Parallel Importation: The system excludes copyright grey goods, namely copies of copyright-protected works made in a country outside of Canada where the copies were authorized to be made.

Transshipment: The CCPA’s system does not apply to transshipments. This means that foreign rights owners’ requests to the Ministry will not assist in detaining shipments of counterfeit goods that are only intermediately transiting Canada.

National Treatment: A foreign rights owner’s access to the request and detention system may also be limited depending on the type of IP they wish to enforce. A foreign copyright rights owner can likely access the system regardless if they are Canadian or if their work was created in Canada due to the legal protections provided in the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (Berne Convention). The Berne Convention allows a work from a Berne Convention country (Berne Convention countries) to qualify for protection in another Berne Convention country when it becomes attached. Attachment requires that the author of the work be a national of a Berne Convention country, 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. This means that if a foreign work becomes attached, and qualifies for protection under Canada’s Copyright Act, a copyright rights owner will have copyright protection for their work in Canada and may utilize the CCPA’s request and detention procedures once the CCPA is enacted.

Trademark rights owners will not be as easily able to utilize the CCPA’s system. Unlike copyrights, trademarks are generally territorial, meaning that a trademark or service mark registration only grants its owner rights in the mark in the territory of the registering country. This means that a trademark owner must generally have registered their mark in Canada in order for them to utilize the CCPA’s trademark request and detention system. Further, as Canada is not a member to the Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks (aka the Madrid Protocol), foreign trademark owners need to obtain a Canadian trademark attorney to register their marks in Canada.

What’s The Takeaway?: The CCPA will give foreign copyright and trademark owners more effective and less expensive tools to protect their copyrighted works and trademarks in Canada and beyond. Its request and detention system does this by not only restricting imports of counterfeit goods, but also limiting their dissemination from Canada to other countries. Yet, the CCPA underscores the vigilance that foreign rights owners must have to ensure that they register and re-register requests for assistance for their works and marks. Only copyright and trademark owners (not authorized parties, e.g. licensees) can file requests with the Ministry to utilize the system’s full protections.

Further, the CCPA shows that foreign trademark owners who are serious about protecting their brands in Canada, and ultimately throughout the world, need to consider registering their marks in Canada in order to effectively utilize the CCPA’s request and detention system once it is enacted.  Upon doing so, such owners can better insure protection for their marks in Canada and beyond.