Research Handbooks in Intellectual Property series
Edited by Paul Torremans
Chapter 6: Cross-border enforcement of intellectual property: The European Union
In the European Union (EU), the concept of ‘cross-border’ enforcement unmistakably brings with it some confusion. To which borders are we, indeed, referring to? In a Single Market of the kind which characterizes the EU, the inter-state frontiers have lost a great deal of their significance: the Member States have dismantled substantially all controls over movement of goods (and, albeit to a lesser extent, services) across their borders with the other Member States, to form a customs union. The EU operates through a scheme of independent supranational institutions, which have developed a standardized system of laws. The twenty-eight Member States have only delegated part of their sovereignty to those institutions, however; subject to some exceptions, they retain full authority over their judicial systems and in criminal matters, for example. In such an internal market, national borders are, obviously, all but artificial. To enforce rights granted in one or more Member States – be it as a result of some legislative instrument adopted at EU level – in others may thus prove challenging. This chapter will, therefore, deal with the enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPRs) not only as between the EU Member States, on the first part, and non-EU countries, on the second part, but also across the EU. The law and practice on the enforcement of intellectual property rights in the EU reflects, in many respects, the complexity and diversity of the EU itself.
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