[Ip-health] EU Member States agree to include enforcement of EU trademarks on goods in-transit in new trademarks legislation

Helle aagaard helle.r.aagaard at gmail.com
Thu Jul 24 08:32:46 PDT 2014

*EU Trademark reform: agreement on common Council position *

For the past year the European Union has been working on a review of
existing European trademark legislation. The review proposal from the
European Commission introduced enforcement of the European trademark on
goods in transit through the EU to other markets as a new tool for rights
holders to combat counterfeiting.

Despite intense advocacy by several NGOs warning of potential negative
public health impacts, including MSF, the European Parliament adopted a
position of supporting in-transit enforcement earlier this year. Yesterday
EU Member States decided to support this approach also in spite of the
in-transit provisions being highly controversial among several Member
States who confidentially expressed clear opposition.

The final legislative text will still need to be negotiated between the
European Parliament and the Council, however, with both legislative
chambers supporting in-transit provisions the chance of having it removed
from the text is very small at this point.

Instituting such enforcement policies without meaningful safeguards against
over-enforcement and abuse by rights holders will lead to barriers to
movement of generic medicines  en route to patients in developing
countries. Wrongful seizure and detention of generic medicines in transit
can lead to harmful delays for people who need access to life-saving
medicines. In addition, the detention and risk of destruction of medicines
in transit can have a chilling effect on trade in generic medicines, and
increase costs for generic manufacturers and suppliers or treatment
providers such as MSF, which are required to take costly steps to avoid
running afoul of overzealous IP enforcement.

MSF has been advocating strongly for the removal if the in-transit
enforcement provisions from the legalisation and we are therefore very
disappointed to see that both the European Parliament and the EU Member
States have chosen to maintain these provisions in the legislation. This
will make the general IP enforcement climate in the EU disproportionately
favour the interests of European rights holders, while ignoring public
health interests of patients in developing countries. We also believe that
the legislation, because of the threat to free movement of legitimate
generic medicines, may be inconsistent with WTO rules and subject to
dispute resolution. This concern has also been raised by some Member States
over the last couple of months.

In September the European Council and the European Parliament will
negotiate the final text, although there is little opportunity that the
most harmful provisions will be removed from the final text.

For additional info on the agreement reached yesterday please follow this

For MSFs response to the Parliament position adoption in February:

If you any questions please don't hesitate to get in contact.

*Helle Aagaard*
*EU Policy and Advocacy Advisor *
*Médecins Sans Frontières - Access Campaign*
*Mobile: +32.4.768.632.54*
*Office: **+32.2.474.75.24*
*Email: Helle.aagaard at msf.org <Helle.aagaard at msf.org>*
*www.msfaccess.org* <http://www.msfaccess.org/>

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