World Intellectual Property Organization

Enforcement - Whose Initiative?

The burden of enforcing IP rights is mainly on the holder of such rights. It is up to your SME as an IP right holder to identify any infringement/counterfeiting of its IP rights and to decide what measures should be taken. Whereas in most cases you would initiate civil proceedings, in the case of counterfeiting and piracy you may consider initiating criminal procedures, if that option is available. 

However, it is the responsibility  of the national or state governments to establish institutions which facilitate the enforcement of intellectual property rights. The judiciary and, in some cases, the administrative bodies like intellectual property offices or customs authorities are government institutions which may have to deal with infringement or counterfeiting cases. Where border measures are available to prevent the importation of counterfeit trademark goods or pirated copyright goods, customs authorities have a major role to play when it comes to IP enforcement at the international border(s) of your country. According to the provisions of the applicable legislation, the customs authorities have to take action at their own initiative, on request of the right holder, or execute court orders. Furthermore, in some countries, there are industry associations which assist their members in enforcing their IP rights (see http://www.bsa.org or http://www.riaa.com/index.cfm).

In addition, there is also the option to seek enforcement between parties by a private arbitration or mediation  where your contract provides for a dispute to be settled by that means.

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