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Criminal enforcement is certainly a very delicate item in contemporary lawmaking of intellectual property. Surprisingly, the subject has not caught much of scholars’ attention so far. One could even say that it has been rather neglected. There could be many reasons for this: intellectual property (IP) experts tend to be not very familiar with criminal law and vice versa. Moreover, enforcement issues have sometimes been perceived in the past as being technical, involving rather procedural aspects than fundamental theoretical questions. Anyhow, this relatively little interest from scholars is surprising since criminal enforcement of intellectual property has all the ingredients for being a very ‘hot topic’. First, harmonization of criminal law at international and European level has been very controversial, since criminal law is closely linked to moral and cultural conceptions within a society. Criminal law has always been a tool to protect the public interest, the harm to society being the justification for the existence of a criminal penalty. Of course, these conceptions diverge severely in diff erent parts of the world. Much research therefore needs to be done in order to find common grounds and elaborate rules that would find broad acceptance. Second, the application of criminal penalties to the infringement of intellectual property rights has always been a debated issue. In fact, criminal enforcement provisions diff er significantly in the various national legislations.

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Edited by Christophe Geiger