EU to launch sanctions against Israeli IP infringement

The EU will apply bilateral and multilateral sanctions against "priority countries".

The European Commission has adopted a strategy for the enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR) in third countries, including Israel. The EU states that Israel's intellectual property protection is inadequate.

EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy said: "Piracy and counterfeiting continue to grow every year and have become industries, increasingly run by criminal organizations. This is a serious problem for us but also for third countries whose companies are also suffering the consequences of violation of their own intellectual property rights. Some of these fakes, like pharmaceuticals and foodstuffs constitute an outright danger to the public, while others undermine the survival of EU’s most innovative sectors, confronted with the misappropriation of their creations. Adopting new legislation on intellectual property is one thing. But devising the right tools to enforce it is another. This is now our priority".

The EU action plan will focus on implementing existing intellectual property protection laws and monitoring "priority countries" that consistently infringe intellectual property and which must tighten intellectual property enforcement. The European Commission will apply pressure on these "priority countries", including applying bilateral and multilateral sanctions.

The EU will open political dialogue, incentives and technical cooperation: ensuring that technical assistance provided to third countries focuses on intellectual property enforcement, especially in priority countries; exchanging ideas and information with other key providers of technical cooperation, like the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), the US or Japan, with the aim of avoiding duplication of efforts and sharing of best-practices.

The EU announcement did not explicitly refer to intellectual property in pharmaceuticals. Until now, the US has led the lobbying effort for Israel to tighten its laws in this area. EU economic attaches in Israel recently met to discuss increasing EU involvement in the matter.

US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick is due to meet Minister of Industry Trade and Labor Ehud Olmert to resolve outstanding bilateral issues regarding Israel's information exclusivity law.

The US government is representing the powerful US pharmaceutical lobby, which is battling Israeli generic drug makers, especially Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (Nasdaq:TEVA; TASE:TEVA).

Published by Globes [online] - www.globes.co.il - on November 15, 2004

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