EU backs criminalising policy

12 July 2007

The European Parliament has approved in principle a directive criminalising the counterfeiting and pirating of goods across the European Union, a serious problem regarding leather products. MEPs, however, excluded patent rights abuse from its scope and also decided its minimum criminal punishments should apply only to deliberate and commercial counterfeiting. A parliament spokesman explained: 'Piracy committed by private users for personal, non-profit purposes is therefore excluded.' Nonetheless, the agreement in principle is one of two major hurdles to be cleared before the directive comes into force; the other is approval by EU ministers. The proposed directive says serious counterfeiting crimes committed by a criminal organisation should incur maximum penalties of €300,000 and/or four years' imprisonment. Today, maximum fines for violating EU intellectual property rights range from £586 in Greece to £67,000 in the Netherlands; maximum prison sentences from three months in Greece to ten years in Britain.

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