EU criminalises breaches of IP rights

The infringement of IP rights is set to become a criminal offence after the European Parliament’s legal affairs committee backed a directive to harmonise EU criminal laws.

MEPs went further, agreeing that such national criminal offences should also be punished by tough and dissuasive penalties.

Regarding serious organised crime such as industrial-scale piracy, the directive as agreed by MEPs says penalties must be at least E300,000 (£204,000) in fines and/or four years’ imprisonment. The same would apply where the crimes involved health or safety risks.

For less serious infringements, maximum fines would be E100,000 (£68,000).

Proposing the directive, Italian socialist MEP Nicola Zingaretti said: “We’re turning a new page: this is the first directive where criminal law is included.”