19 April 2012
Question for written answer
to the Council
Marietje Schaake (ALDE)
Subject: Recent G-8 ‘Non-paper on intellectual property rights protection’
Judging from the recently leaked ‘Non-paper on intellectual property rights protection’(1), the G‑8 intergovernmental forum appears to be laying the groundwork for a new international legal response to counterfeiting and piracy, which would include an integrated warning system and a pledge by the G-8 countries to strengthen their legal and regulatory regimes. Several EU Member States (France, Germany, Italy and the UK) participate in the G-8 forum. The document raises several issues:
1. how does the Council view this draft G-8 initiative, and is there any EU‑wide coordinated strategy regarding participation in such multilateral forums, and in particular in the preparation of the Non-paper on intellectual property rights protection?
2. can the Council confirm whether the Commission is involved, in particular in connection with the common commercial policy, in the aforementioned large Member States’ preparations for, and participation in, the G‑8 forum?
3. does the Council agree that the governments of the Member States involved should instead opt to tackle counterfeited products by means of a sector-specific approach? If not, why does it consider a sector-specific approach to be less effective?
4. can the Council explain what the governments of those Member States consider to be ‘appropriate action against unlawful websites’? What type of website is unlawful? What type of action is appropriate?
5. does the Council agree that, by using online payment services to cripple those producing or trading in counterfeit products, the governments involved would be outsourcing law enforcement to private parties? If so, can the Council comment on whether it considers this approach to be in line with current EU legislation?
6. does the Council agree that the outsourcing of law enforcement could (a) encourage risk-aversion by payment processors, thereby potentially cutting off cash flow to legitimate traders, (b) lead to the imposition of excessive fines by companies, cases of which have already been reported(2), and (c) result in (mainly American) multinational companies acting as non-judicial enforcement agencies? If the Council does not agree that each of the abovementioned points is a possible outcome, why not?
7. does the Council agree that if potential infringers can be traced via online payment services, they should be investigated and arrested by public enforcement authorities rather than being financially crippled? If not, why not?