Signed on behalf of ICC’s Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy initiative (BASCAP), the MoU sets out a framework for both parties to establish a programme to monitor and deter the sale in counterfeits, and raise awareness among landlords – of both public and private marketplaces of the related damages in their respective markets.
The programme builds on best practices set out in the BASCAP paper Measures to Engage Landlords in the Fight against Counterfeit and Pirated Goods – Best Practices for Landlords, Governments and Enforcement Agencies. The United States Trade Representative (USTR) and European Commission have recognized the serious role that local markets play in selling and distributing fake goods and both governments have recently taken steps to map notorious counterfeit markets globally.
BASCAP and React will work together with the assistance of participating brand owners to: identify notorious marketplaces worldwide including malls, open-air markets, flea markets and market squares; cooperate with landlords of these marketplaces to facilitate the removal of counterfeits either voluntarily or, on failure to cooperate, through legal action; and initiate a dialogue with landlords to prevent the future availability of counterfeits.
React will monitor the relevant markets, collect evidence of the availability of counterfeits, inform landlords of the presence of counterfeit goods on their premises with a request to take action to remove such goods. The programme ultimately hopes to secure commitment from partnering landlords to refrain from engaging directly or indirectly in the trade of counterfeit goods.
As part of the programme, BASCAP will work with landlords, national governments and enforcement bodies to raise awareness of the vital role landlords play in the global supply chain for legitimate commerce and encourage implementing the BASCAP best practices.
“These measures are aimed at implementing clear policies to effectively deny commercial premises to counterfeiters and negatively impact their ability to continue operations. Consistent and enduring application of these practices in markets is the best defence for disrupting trade in counterfeit goods,” said Paola Piccoli, Head of Brand Enforcement EMEA/APAC, Maus Freres and Chair of the BASCAP Landlords Working Group.
The MoU was launched at a conference – organised by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC), INTERPOL and the World Customs Organization (WCO)— called Respect for IP – Growing from the Tip of Africa.Representing BASCAP, Meena Sayal, Director, Global Brand Protection, Unilever said:
“BASCAP and React have a shared commitment in the fight against counterfeit goods. The MoU is another step by BASCAP to actively engage with intermediaries to stop the abuse of the supply chain by counterfeiters. The partnership signals a commitment to work together to make landlords and law enforcement more aware of the risks of criminal networks infiltrating physical premises to manufactures, store, distribute and sell counterfeits goods.”
React is eager to put into effect the favourable European Court of Justice decision it had initiated in 2016 which confirmed the responsibility of landlords to ensure that counterfeit products are wiped out from their markets.
Sander Bakker, Chair of React, said:
“The active intervention of landlords to protect consumers, as well as companies against the sales of counterfeited goods is essential. Counterfeit trade is very difficult to dismantle; the support from intermediaries including landlords is crucial and reasonable.”
The first round of the MoU will focus on European markets. BASCAP and REACT anticipate that more brand owners will participate in the programme as it expands to focus on other regions including Latin America and South East Asia. As a next step, the programme will also explore the promotion of an authenticity label for markets that demonstrate adherence to good practices.