Product Safety Pledge is positive step for rightsholders
In 2000 the e-commerce Directive (2000/31/EC) was adopted to create a basic legal framework for online services and remove obstacles to cross-border online services in the European Union (EU).
Article 14 of the e-Commerce Directive stated that dangerous product listings must be taken down speedily and efficiently, but did not specify how quickly. However, dialogue facilitated by the European Commission (EC), has seen four major online marketplaces, Alibaba (for AliExpress), Amazon, eBay and Rakuten - France sign a commitment on 25 June 2018, for faster removal of dangerous products listed on their online marketplaces.
This is positive news for rightsholders as this pledge will include counterfeit and IP infringing goods. According to the EC press release, the agreement pertains to tackling all types of illegal content online, and included in its definition of ‘dangerous products’ is terrorist content, incitement to hatred and violence, child sexual abuse material, unsafe products and copyright infringement.
The EUIPO recently identified that €60 billion is lost every year due to counterfeiting in the EU alone, and it is these counterfeit goods that cause a particular concern for safety because they often don’t meet the required safety standards. One particular industry that suffers is the toy industry, which we recently wrote an article about and how we assist Rubik’s Brand to solve their online counterfeit puzzle.
Most online marketplaces are committed to tackling the huge IP infringment issue, but it is still a problematic situation to get under control. This new Product Safety Pledge may be another step closer to managing the situation. The involved marketplaces have agreed to respond to notifications on dangerous products from EU member states within two working days and take action on customer complaints within five working days. The four sites have also pledged - to provide a clear way for customers to notify dangerous product listings, to offer training to sellers on product safety compliance, and to reduce repeat listings of the same prohibited product after the first takedown by having a contact point for the EU authorities and using the information on the EU Rapid Alert System.
Counterfeiting isn’t just limited to the major online marketplace sellers of course. We search over 1,000 sites for IP infringing goods, but it's uncertain whether all online marketplaces will also make the pledge. The EC is however encouraging other sites to follow the good example with Vĕra Jourová, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, saying, "I call also on other online marketplaces to join this initiative, so that the internet becomes a safer place for EU consumers."
It will also be interesting to see whether it will have a global impact and if the U.S. government can agree a similar pledge. Whatever the impact, it is a step in the right direction to address the online marketplace counterfeit problem. Yellow Brand Protection will be keeping an eye on this new EU Product Safety Pledge and keep you up-to-date on any further developments.