IP/IT News – February 2024

⭐ [ Best of ] Read the February top news about intellectual property, technology and data protection.

Counterfeiting / Justice: Europol led Operation SHIELD IV, a global initiative involving 30 countries on 3 continents to combat the trafficking of counterfeit medicines and doping substances. The operation was supported by various agencies, including Europol, OLAF, and WADA. It led to the seizure of counterfeit medicines worth 64 million euros. The results include the indictment of 1,284 individuals, the dismantling of 52 organised criminal groups, and the closure of 92 illegal websites (Press Release, February 13, 2024, Europol).

AI / Regulation: The European Commission has established the European Office of Artificial Intelligence to monitor the progress of AI models and ensure compliance with legislation. Its responsibilities include evaluating models, monitoring their implementation, managing risks, and investigating potential violations. The decision will come into effect on February 21, 2024 (Commission Decision, January 24, 2024).

Disinformation / Regulation: TikTok is implementing measures to combat disinformation ahead of the European elections, including “election centers” within its application and a moderation team of 6,000 people. The platform is also collaborating with fact-checking entities and investing in media literacy education. Verified accounts are encouraged to ensure access to reliable information (Irish Referendum Centre).

DSA / Legislation: The Digital Services Act (DSA), in effect since August 25, 2023, will now apply to all online platforms operating within the European Union as of February 17, 2024, aiming to better protect users against illicit content. The regulation imposes obligations such as combating disinformation, protecting minors from targeted advertising, and cooperating with judicial authorities. Very large platforms are particularly targeted and may face fines of up to 6% of their global turnover for non-compliance with the rules. (Press Release, February 13, 2024).

Counterfeiting / Justice: Amazon and BMW have won a lawsuit in Spain against four fraudsters for selling counterfeit products. Amazon detected suspicious activity, suspended the fraudsters’ accounts, and removed counterfeit listings. Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit played a crucial role in this case. In 2022, Amazon halted over 800,000 attempts to open new selling accounts by malicious actors (Press Release, February 8, 2024).

Counterfeiting / Legislation: In Italy, the Law No. 206 of December 27, 2023, which came into effect on January 11, 2024, aims to strengthen the protection of “Made in Italy” against counterfeiting. It expands the scope of the offense of selling industrial products bearing misleading signs, authorises undercover operations in cases of counterfeiting of geographical indications or designations of origin of agri-food products, and modifies the provisions on the destruction of seized goods. Additionally, it holds criminally liable those who possess products with the intention to sell them (Press Release, February 8, 2024).

Piracy / Justice: beIN Sports achieved a significant legal victory by obtaining the blocking of 56 pirate sites illegally streaming the Africa Cup of Nations in France. This action, stemming from an order of the Paris Judicial Court, aims to counter the financial losses caused by piracy, estimated at 500 million euros per year for channels like beIN Sports (Press Release, January 23, 2024).

Trademark / Justice: The CJEU has affirmed that an automobile manufacturer can prohibit a third party from marketing spare parts reproducing its trademark. Indeed, in a dispute between Audi and a Polish trader, the Court ruled that the marketing of such parts could infringe upon the manufacturer’s trademark, under the regulation on the European Union trademark (CJEU, January 25, 2024, C-334/22).

Registration Data / Regulation: ICANN published the first report on RDRS usage metrics (RDRS Usage Metrics Report, January 17, 2024).

DSA / Justice: Meta and TikTok are challenging in court the new tax introduced by the European Union’s Digital Services Act, deeming it unfair and disproportionate for funding social media moderation (Press release on February 8, 2024).

Counterfeiting / Justice: eBay has agreed to pay $59 million to settle allegations of violating the Controlled Substances Act regarding the sale of pill presses on its website. These machines can be used to manufacture illegal drugs. eBay’s failure to comply with the law’s requirements contributed to the proliferation of counterfeit pills. In addition to the financial settlement, eBay must enhance its compliance program. (Press Release, January 31, 2024, Office of Public Affairs, U.S. Department of Justice).

AI / Regulation: Ambassadors from the 27 countries of the European Union unanimously approved the world’s first comprehensive regulation on artificial intelligence, thereby confirming the December political agreement (Press release on February 2, 2024).

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