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The role of the IP Enforcement Portal in the fight against coronavirus-related fake protection goods

26 juin 2020

Due to enforcement authorities being confronted with so many counterfeits of goods related to the prevention and care of COVID-19, the IP Enforcement Portal was put at the disposal of rights holders and enforcers in an attempt to lessen such activity.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the whole world, with serious consequences for our health and safety. The demand for goods related to the prevention and care of the disease rose exponentially in the first few weeks following the outbreak, and infringers have wasted no time in offering counterfeit, substandard and dangerous items related to the pandemic to the public, such as masks, medical devices, disinfectants, sanitisers and test kits.

Due to enforcement authorities being confronted with so many counterfeits of this nature, the IP Enforcement Portal was put at the disposal of rights holders and enforcers in an attempt to lessen such activity. Rights holders with goods related to the COVID-19 pandemic have been invited to update their contact and product information and to use the ‘Alerts’ function to inform enforcers of any possible trafficking. These actions, initiated in collaboration with the TIC Council (an international association representing independent testing, inspection and certification companies) and, in particular, with its member, the certification service TÜV SÜD, aimed for a smooth and secure communication between rights holders and enforcement authorities and the quick and easy identification of counterfeits at EU borders and within the single market.

Many rights holders have responded: updating their profiles, contacting enforcers and creating alerts on fake COVID-19-related goods. A good example is LACOSTE, who used their account to send alerts warning officers of fake face masks on several social media platforms.

As well as facilitating the exchange of accurate and concrete information between rights holders and enforcers to fight IP crime, at EU level the IP Enforcement Portal has been made available to the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), thereby serving as a secure communication tool from which to pass information to the police and market surveillance authorities.

This collaboration has already contributed successfully to several enforcement activities, which have resulted in numerous detentions of counterfeit goods related to the COVID-19 pandemic.