The objective of “Twinning”
Twinning is a close partnership between the administrations of an EU Candidate Country and one or more EU Member States. Twinning projects aim at assisting Candidate Countries, during the accession process, to harmonise their procedures to European standards best practice.
This Twinning project
The objective of this Twinning Project is to improve the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR) in Serbia and to align the Serbian IPR protection and enforcement approach to European standards.
The lead partners in this project are the Serbian Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications – Market Inspection Sector and the Danish Patent and Trademark Office (DKPTO), in collaboration with the Deutsche Stiftung für Internationale Rechtliche Zusammenarbeit e.V. (IRZ) from Germany that are engaged as junior partner in the project.
Other institutions from Serbia participating in the Project are: Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development – Intellectual Property Office, Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Finance – Customs Administration and Tax Administration, Ministry of Health – Medicines and Medical Devices Inspectorate, and the Republic Public Prosecutor’s Office.
Budget and time frame
The Project will focus on institution building, legal and regulatory alignment, capacity building and awareness raising. The total Project budget is 1.5 million €. Implementation of the project started on the 1st of February 2019 and will be finalised December 2021.
Brief overview of Twinning project – Protection and enforcement of IPR in Serbia – Achievements and activities
Component 1 – Legislation for efficient administrative enforcement of IPR was prepared in an inclusive and evidence-based process
During the project, the MS experts assessed several regulations and laws related to enforcement of IPR.
The Serbian Criminal Code related to IPR criminal offences was analysed and recommendations to add paragraph or subsections to add formal links to definitions of IPR laws. The project assessed the revised Serbian Law on Trademarks and compared the law to the provisions in the EU TM Directive 2015/2436 of 16 December 2015. Based on the analysis a table of concordance was developed and recommendations to simplify and shorten the Serbian Trademark law or to harmonise the structure laid out in the EU directive. Conduct gap analysis and provide amendments on the revised draft law on electronic commerce in relation to IP enforcement. A comprehensive table of concordance containing recommendations were drafted. The main result of the assessment concluded the revised draft was in general concordance with the EU e-Commerce Directive. Minor amendments were recommended. As a follow up to the implemented e-Commerce law, a seminar for judges and prosecutors was organized. The seminar focused on several topics such as governance of the Internet, Consumer Protection, and Data Protection in E-commerce, Civil Enforcement Measures Online and criminal Enforcement Online
Component 2 – Intelligence capacity on IPR enforcement enhanced IT system
A substantial component in the project was development of systems to support the beneficiaries in becoming more efficient and provide additional services to IP right holders to ease the protection of their rights.
To improve the corporation and the prepare a more detailed basis of information, an Information Exchange Platform has been developed allowing the IPR relevant enforcement institution to gather various information about IP related incidents and improve the statistical data. Having uniform and clear data supports the IPR relevant institutions in targeting awareness areas and provide the opportunity to do more accurate trend analysis of areas where enforcement should be increased.
An interface for receiving electronic request for protection of specific IP rights – referred to as an Application for Action requests (AfA) – was developed in corporation with the Market Inspectorate Sector and private rights holders. The AfA system will provide a speedier and more efficient way for IP rights holders to communicate with the Market Inspectorate and ensure protection of their IP rights.
Component 3 – Enhanced capacity related to investigations on the internet
The sale of products on the Internet – luxury items, everyday household products but also lifestyle drugs and medicine are booming these years. The traditional outlets have moved from the markets and shops to internet leaving supervision of sale of fake and unsafe products a challenge. Introduction of stronger E-commerce legislation have been introduced allowing stronger enforcement.
During the project, several Market Inspectors have been introduced to how to do investigations in an online environment. The training focused on recognizing IT criminality and securing evidence to support the judicial process of limiting and removing social media pages and internet sites advertising fake or unsafe goods.
To ensure sustainability a e-learning module for new inspectors was developed along with a comprehensive handbook providing basic online investigation methods.
To inform consumers how to detect and avoid buying unsafe or fake goods on the internet, a short guideline was developed.
Component 4 – Enhanced capacity in identifying and dealing with dangerous and low quality counterfeit products
Dangerous and unsafe counterfeited goods are posing a bigger and bigger threat the society and to the authorities dealing with them.
During the project several procedures relating the inspection of products infringing trademark and safety was developed. To assist Market Inspection a handbook containing all relevant criminal law were drafted and disseminated to the Market Inspectors.
Component 5 – Calculation methods established
To demonstrate the value of IP to the Serbian economy a methodology to calculate scope, scale and financial impact of counterfeiting and piracy in Serbia was developed. The methodology is based on the proven EUIPO/OECD methodology and adapted to the Serbian context and available data.
Preliminary calculations based on statistical information from 2019 was done and showed that Serbia ranks more or less equal to many of the EU countries.
The calculation will assist Serbian policy makers obtain a comprehensive picture of the cost of IPR infringements to the Serbian economy and enable them to allocate the appropriate resources to reduce counterfeiting and piracy in Serbia
Component 6 – Guide for IPR enforcers developed
When the Covid-19 pandemic became the new reality and personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks etc. were introduced, a new market offering protective face masks popped up. To ensure that market inspectors had the qualifications to identify products are according to the regulations a handbook to enforce IPR about enforcement of IPR in the context of Covid-19 was drafted.
The handbook and supporting checklists combines the relevant elements of IP Rights and Market Inspector enforcement work and laws in one useful guide. The guide enables market inspectors with knowledge of either IPR or product safety inspection to combat the threat posed by counterfeit, non-compliant and potentially unsafe protective products in the marketplace.
The guide includes checklists for PPE, Medical Devices, Certificates and Declarations of Conformity, to assist inspectors carry out their checks to identify non-compliant products and remove them from the marketplace
To ensure information and knowledge several training courses for more than 322 Market Inspectors and other relevant inspectors were carried out during the project.
Component 7 – Public awareness regarding IPR enhanced
A key element in enforcement and protection of intellectual property rights is public awareness. During the project, several activities raising public awareness were implemented.
A website and a supporting Facebook page for Market Inspectorate for protection of IPR was created providing relevant information to businesses and consumers.
Six awareness publication and a strategy wasdeveloped to raise awareness about the dangers of buying or manufacturing fake/unsafe products and how the target audience of each publication could identify potential fake/unsafe products.
To target future awareness initiatives a perception study of the public knowledge was carried out to explore the attitudes on IPR and to provide an updated survey to compare the development of the perspective from the previous survey carried out in 2015. The updated perception study is intended to be used as a recurring tool for the Serbian Coordination Body to plan future awareness initiatives.
Component 8 – Functional structure of the coordination body is established
The Serbian Coordination Body on enforcement of Intellectual Property rights was established in 2014 and is chaired by the Intellectual Property Office.
During the project, the Coordination Body organized a High-Level meeting in corporation with the Danish Ministerial Network against IPR Infringements emphasizing the importance of the requirements from the EU Action plan for Serbia. As an outcome of the high level meeting two working groups was established; the Expert working group and Operational working group and the project shared EU best practices and knowledge about creating synergies and optimising resources; Improvement of communication between agencies and identifying gaps in enforcement programmes and activities with the working groups.