19 March 2015Big Pharma

ITMA spring conference: IP has ‘dirty’ connotations, says GSK

Intellectual property is still seen as a “dirty term” in the EU, the assistant general counsel of pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline has claimed.

Sarah Jeffery was speaking to delegates at the Institute of Trademark Attorneys’ (ITMA) spring conference in London.

She said there was still a perception of IP being bad among law makers in the EU. Part of this, she said, may be due to the collapse of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) after opposition from Members of the European Parliament.

The parliament rejected the proposal in 2012 and participating nations have yet to reach an agreement on it.

In 2010, the parliament had passed a resolution demanding greater transparency in public affairs and asked the European Commission to make public all documents relating to ACTA, due to several documents related to the negotiations being kept under wraps.

Jeffery added that, in terms of combating fakes, there needs to be more dialogue between the European Enforcement Database, managed by the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM), and the World Customs Organization (WCO).

Specifically she referred to a “lack of dialogue” between the WCO’s Interface Public-Members service, which allows right owners to communicate with officials, and the Enforcement Database.

She added that a memorandum of understanding had been signed by OHIM and the WCO, with a proposed implementation date of 2017.

Jeffery added: “I think there is a perception that stopping goods in transit is a way of stopping generic or cheaper medicines from travelling round the world, but it’s not. It’s about stopping counterfeits.”

She was speaking alongside Mark Bearfoot, brand protection manager at motorcycle brand Harley Davidson. Both were discussing how companies could improve enforcement strategies and spot fakes.

Bearfoot provided guidance on how best to spot counterfeit products. He showed attendees a picture of the packaging on the company’s products. Bearfoot said any items caught that were not in brown packaging with a red binding were likely to be fake.

The  ITMA spring conference runs from March 19 to 20.

This story was first reported on  WIPR.

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