About IP Enforcement Portal
The IP Enforcement Portal (IPEP), previously known as the Enforcement Database (EDB), is a free, interactive, multilingual and secure tool for IPR enforcement matters supported by the EUIPO and the European Commission. IPEP has recently become a single electronic access point deployed at EU level for submitting customs applications to any of the 27 Member States’ competent customs departments.
The tool can be used by right holders of trade marks, designs, geographical indications, patents, copyright, plant variety rights and other IPRs. IPEP is currently used by approximately thousand right holders, of which about fifty percent use the tool actively for filing AFAs and for sharing product information with enforcement authorities, and by approximately seventy enforcement authorities across the EU, which includes customs authorities, police, anti-fraud and market surveillance authorities. However, these numbers are steadily increasing as the tool continues to develop and further improve.
How can you use the IP Enforcement Portal?
Right holders can use IPEP either directly or through their representatives to protect their products against counterfeiting by sharing relevant information with enforcement authorities. IPEP can be used, among others, for the following purposes, including newly for the electronic filing of AFAs:
- To file AFAs electronically, which includes both AFAs covering the EU (Union AFAs) and AFAs covering one or more EU member states (national AFAs).
- To extend the period of validity of AFAs (in other words, to renew, AFAs), including those not created through the tool.
- To view information in relation to right holder’s past AFAs stored in COPIS, the central EU database for customs authorities, including those not created through the tool. This will allow right holders to assess whether the intelligence related to their products has been properly processed or whether it should be resubmitted through IPEP.
- To share and exchange information with enforcement authorities, including police (as AFAs are only shared with customs), regarding products and their authenticity.
- To send alerts to customs and police to alert them of new trends or infringement cases, including online infringement alerts for webpages selling fake products.
- To communicate with enforcement authorities about detentions. In fact, some authorities, such as Cyprus customs, Luxembourg customs and Spanish police, already started to use the tool as their official notification system for detentions, while others are testing the tool for this purpose.
What has changed or is going to change?
IPEP has been subject to constant developments and significant improvements over the time. The main recent and upcoming changes of IPEP include:
- Introduction of electronic AFAs and integration with COPIS: As of 13 December 2021, central electronic filing system for AFAs through IPEP has been introduced and IPEP has been integrated with COPIS, the central EU database for customs authorities containing all AFA related information. As a result, all AFAs should be filed and managed electronically and directly integrated to the COPIS system.
IPEP has thus become the EU portal for electronic submissions of AFAs (e-AFAs) in all EU Member States, the single e-filing portal for AFAs in 24 EU Member States and the alternative portal to national portals for AFAs in 3 EU Member States, namely Germany, Spain and Italy.
- Introduction of paperless AFAs: In spring 2022, digital signature system for e-AFAs should be introduced, which will allow for AFAs to become completely paperless and avoid that right holders still need to send the signed AFA to the responsible customs authority of the submission country by post.
- Full management of AFAs not filed through IPEP: By the end of 2022, it should also become possible to amend (and not just renew without any changes) AFAs that were not filed directly through IPEP. Accordingly, by the end of 2022, right holders should be able to fully manage online all their AFAs filed in the EU through IPEP.
The integration with COPIS already makes it possible to retrieve all right holder’s AFAs as they were stored in COPIS and to view them in IPEP. This in turn allows right holders to assess the quality of the information stored and used by customs for risk profiling. Old AFAs could be resubmitted through IPEP, with the advantage that the relevant information arrives in the customs COPIS database in a structured manner, is searchable and is available in the different languages.
Now that all customs applications for action in the EU should be filed and managed electronically and that this should preferably be done through IPEP, we would be happy to assist you to set up and manage your IPEP account. We would also be happy to review your existing AFAs in the portal and to resubmit them through IPEP if appropriate, to make sure the relevant information is shared with customs in the most effective manner. If you have any questions about IPEP, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Authored by Sarka Petivlasova.