[JURIST Europe] The European Commission [official website] Wednesday adopted a proposal for a directive [press release] setting EU-wide criminal penalties for counterfeiting and other intellectual property offenses. If adopted in legislation by the European Parliament [official website], the directive requiring the imposition of four-year jail terms and a fine as high as 300,000 (approximately $373,163) would be the first instance of European criminal sentences being set by an institution other than national governments. The directive was made possible by a controversial ruling [text in French, summary in English, PDF] by the European Court of Justice [official website] last September holding that the EC had the right to impose criminal sanctions in order to enforce EU law and policies. Eleven EU states had argued against that holding, and similar opposition to this latest proposal is expected. If adopted by the European Parliament, however, the sanctions would become binding in all EU member states.
European Commissioner for Justice and Home Affairs Franco Frattini [official profile] has stated that the legislation is necessary and if approved will be a viable tool for combating a what he called a 'serious' crime like counterfeiting. The Times has more.
Angela Onikepe is an Associate Editor for JURIST Europe, reporting European legal news from a European perspective. She is based in the UK.