Interview With Alberto Bichi, Federation Of The European Sporting Goods Industry 26/11/2014 by Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) The views expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and are not associated with Intellectual Property Watch. IP-Watch expressly disclaims and refuses any responsibility or liability for the content, style or form of any posts made to this forum, which remain solely the responsibility of their authors. Alberto Bichi is secretary-general of the Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry (FESI), based in Brussels. In an interview with Intellectual Property Watch’s Catherine Saez, he describes FESI’s mission, the views of the industry on the importance of intellectual property protection, and the growing issue of counterfeiting. He also talked about the industry’s concern over the current European Union customs regulation on goods in transit, which, according to him is negatively impacting the sector. IP-Watch (IPW): What is FESI, and what is its mission? Alberto Bichi, secretary-general of the Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry (FESI) Alberto Bichi: FESI represents 1800 companies, both directly and indirectly through our 12 national federations and one special grouping (European Outdoor Group). We develop a number of working committees. We currently have nine working committees, each of which deals with specific policy areas in respect to the EU Commission’s political and regulatory work. Working committees include trade and customs, product safety, sustainability, research and innovation, and IP. The mission of the IP committee is to protect as broadly as possible the IP interests of our members and to advocate and lobby both the EU institutions and broader institutions to make sure that the IP rights of our members are duly protected. IPW: How relevant is IP for the sporting goods industry? Alberto Bichi: Intellectual property is of extreme importance for the sporting goods industry. On average there are some 150,000 new articles placed on the market by the sporting goods industry on an annual basis, hence the relevance of IP protection. In Europe, the sports sector represents some 3 percent of the EU GDP, this tells you the relevance of this particular sector. Scientific studies have found that the sport sector equals agriculture, forestry and fishery sectors combined in the EU. The total employment generated by the sports sector is 7.3 million jobs, this amounts to 3.5 percent of total EU employment. IPW: Which kind of IP rights are particularly used in sports? Alberto Bichi: The most two important IP rights in our sector are trademarks and designs. FESI is mainly focusing on those two IP rights, leaving patent issues to the companies themselves. The sporting goods industry includes three main sectors, which are textiles and apparel, such as shorts, tee-shirts, and caps; footwear; and hardware, such as equipment that our members manufacture to perform any physical activity, such as tennis rackets and golf clubs. We also represent 12 national federations, some of which are active in neighbouring sectors such as the infrastructure for stadiums. FESI interacts with EU institutions but also a number of other stakeholders, such as Europol, the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM), and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). We understand the importance of joining forces to reach the common goal. IPW: What are the main IP-related concerns of FESI members? Alberto Bichi: The main concern is counterfeiting in two specific areas: sport shoes, and clothing and apparel. Counterfeiting also touches the hardware sector, and even protective equipments, such as helmets, which ultimately raises the broader issue of product safety. We have numbers on counterfeiting coming from the EU Commission. Over the last four years, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, there has been an astonishing drop in the amount of counterfeit goods seized. In 2010, some 103 million counterfeit goods were seized, in 2011, 115 million were seized, then in 2012 a surprising number of 43 million were seized, to drop further down in 2013 with 36 millions seizures. We have tried to understand the reasons of this major drop and it appears that is follows the European Court of Justice ruling on Nokia-Philips case on goods in transit. This case was one of the reasons of the immense drop in seizures. The finding of this case was that ultimately customs officials were not allowed to seize goods destined for another location than EU. We attribute the drop in seizures to the Nokia-Philips case and we have been trying ever since to change the regulation. The second reason for this spectacular drop can be attributed to the counterfeiters getting smarter and selling counterfeit goods through online channels, with less control. We are trying to lobby to change the EU regulation. Basically, there are different ways and means to lobby the European institutions. The European Commission launched a memorandum of understanding [pdf] (MoU) on sales of counterfeit goods over the internet, between the EU Commission, right holders, and online platforms such as eBay, Amazon and Price Minister. This MoU, signed by FESI, basically says that parties concerned will have to try to make joint efforts to seize and to stop counterfeit goods from being sold online. This was a concrete activity that we pushed for, and we are trying to promote a fruitful and constructive collaboration between different parties in the value chain to make sure that we ultimately have the same goal, which is the fight against counterfeiters. Another important element is that unfortunately transporters and intermediaries are not held responsible for transporting counterfeited goods. We thought it is important to engage them in the value chain and the responsibility chain to make sure that they also bear a certain level of responsibility, like all the others. IPW: In what way is FESI helping to tackle the issue of counterfeiting? Alberto Bichi: In the context of our collaboration with other stakeholders, such as OHIM and Europol, we have organised a conference in March with those two organisations titled, “IP Crimes in Sports.” We are trying to advance the political agenda and trying to make sure that all organisations, institutions and relevant stakeholders are raising awareness on the issue of counterfeiting. FESI has also signed an MoU with the World Customs Organization in relation to large sport events. Counterfeiters are using many avenues and channels to import goods into a specific country and large sport events constitute an attractions for counterfeiters. At the last World Cup in South Africa, in 2010, our members experienced a 500 percent increase in counterfeit products entering the country. For the World Cup in Brazil this year we organised an operation called Goal 14, which had two main pillars. The first one was a two-week educational operation. We wanted to make sure that the customs officials of Brazil and six neighbouring countries would be extremely knowledgeable in understanding what are genuine goods as opposed to counterfeit goods. We gave them all the technical and administrative information so that they are able to recognise and seize counterfeit goods. The second part of the operation took place at the respective duty station of the customs officials who had receive the training. They were supported by WCO officials and went through the goods clearance process with the WCO officials. In particular, they were further trained to be able to identify suspicious containers, for example. We were able to seize 750,000 counterfeit goods just on the week of the WCO operation. IPW: What European legislation are you particularly following? Alberto Bichi: We are being very attentive concerning the small consignment policy and the responsibility of transporters and other intermediaries. We are also following the revision of the EU Trademark legislation, as the currently applicable trademark law specifies that goods in transit cannot infringe EU trademark law (this was clarified by the Nokia/Philips ruling). The European Parliament and Council are now discussing new EU trademark legislation and we believe it is essential that the New EU Trademark Directive & Regulation will make it possible for EU custom officials to seize counterfeit goods in transit. We are not able to solve the issues on our own and it is important to collaborate with other stakeholders. We have to rely on the collaboration with both public and private parties. This is why the interaction is important between organisations all through the value chain. IPW: Thank you. Image Credits: FESI Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related "Interview With Alberto Bichi, Federation Of The European Sporting Goods Industry" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.