Many consumers take advantage of the benefits that online shopping has to offer, this being a quick and convenient way to access thousands of brands from across the globe, including through e-commerce marketplaces, such as Amazon or Etsy. In fact, a 2022 Eurostat study found that 68% of surveyed people in the European Union had purchased goods or services online within a 12-month period preceding the survey.

However, whilst the benefits of online shopping are clear to consumers, and brand owner's alike, e-commerce platforms also provide counterfeiters' ample opportunity to infringe on brand owners intellectual property rights ("IPRs") by advertising counterfeit goods for sale on these platforms. Whilst many e-commerce marketplaces will have their own IPR protection initiative or programme in place, the administration of joining these initiatives can get complicated for brand owners to navigate.

With a recent update to their Intellectual Property Enforcement Portal (IPEP), the EU IPO can now facilitate this joining process by granting e-commerce marketplaces limited access to a brand owner's customs information for authentication, verification and communication purposes.

Whilst any action against infringing advertisements will still need to be handled with the e-commerce marketplace directly in line with their own IP protection policies, the new feature is intended to ease the initial joining process by allowing marketplaces to validate a brand owner's IPRs and send them electronic communications, such as verification codes, directly through the IPEP portal.

The feature will also allow brand owners to nominate and share the details of specific contacts with e-commerce marketplaces and give access to any supporting documentation they wish to do so.

This new feature is an exciting add-on to recent collaboration efforts within the anti-counterfeiting industry, such as Amazon's recent Anti-Counterfeiting Exchange (ACX) initiative discussed by my colleague Megan Rannard here.

With a dedicated anti-counterfeiting team, our leading professionals are well-placed to provide you with assistance in the online administration and enforcement of your intellectual property rights both at IPEP and with e-commerce marketplaces directly.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.