The Europol Intellectual Property Crime Conference 2020 took place on 23 November in partnership with the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition.
The annual conference brings together experts in intellectual property crime (IP) and addresses the most recent innovations in enforcement strategies of intellectual property rights. The conference offered law enforcement and the private sector views on top intellectual property enforcement issues in Europe, including the importance of IP enforcement during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The conference also covered recommendations and potential resources for public and private stakeholders to fight IP crime. Held as a virtual event for the first time, leading professionals from law enforcement, the private sector and academia attended the conference.
Europol's Executive Director Catherine De Bolle, the Executive Director of the European Union Intellectual Property Office, Christian Archambeau, the US IP Enforcement Coordinator, Vishal Amin, and the Chair of the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition, Dawn Atlas opened the virtual conference.
Catherine De Bolle, Executive Director Europol:
Looking back at the last eight months, we can trace how criminals have used uncertainty and change to identify and exploit opportunities targeting individuals, businesses and the public sector. Counterfeit goods sold during the corona crisis do not meet the required quality standards and pose a real threat to public health and safety. In addition, intellectual property crime is linked to other forms of criminality, including money laundering, document fraud, cybercrime, fraud, drug production and trafficking and terrorism.
Christian Archambeau, Executive Director of the European Union Intellectual Property Office said:
The shocking examples of fake medicines and personal protective equipment circulating during the current pandemic show that IP crime is not a victimless crime. Counterfeiters exploit every vulnerability they can find, no matter what the cost to consumers, and – as our research has shown – use increasingly complex trade routes, with many intermediary points. This makes our joint cooperation even more important.
"My congratulations to the esteemed speakers, organizers and attendees of the first virtual EUROPOL IP Crime Conference," said Bob Barchiesi, IACC President. "We are operating in difficult times that require even bolder leadership, more innovative partnerships and collective action to protect legitimate businesses and consumer safety from criminal counterfeiters. We thank our government and industry partners for their continued commitment and look forward to advancing our joint effort to fight fakes."
Europol identified the trade in counterfeit and substandard goods as one of the areas with the immediate impact of the COVID-19 crisis. With the onset of the pandemic, the demand for healthcare and sanitary products (masks, gloves, cleaning products, hand sanitizers) and personal protective equipment increased significantly. The organised crime groups involved in illicit activities related to counterfeit and substandard goods have proven to be highly adaptable in adjusting their business model by shifting product focus and marketing. In 2020, Europol's Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition (IPC3) experienced an increase of 10% of the contributions received compared to 2019.
In 2021, the Italian Finance Corps (Guardia di Finanza), the Italian law enforcement agency under the authority of the Minister of Economy and Finance, will host the fifth edition of this conference, which will take place in Rome.