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Enforcement of IPRs in Belgium

Belgium

Enforcement of IPRs
The online presence of infringers makes counterfeits more accessible to the public. Other than that, many of these goods enter the European Union through the major harbour of Antwerp (the second large sea harbour in Europe by size).
Toys, childcare articles, and clothing are the goods that most often face counterfeiting and piracy in Belgium.
Yes
They are as follows:
1. Patent – Title 1 (Patents) of Book XI (Intellectual Property and Trade Secrets) of the Code of Economic Law
2. Copyright – Title 5 (Copyrights and Neighbouring Rights) of Book XI (Intellectual Property and Trade Secrets) of the Code of Economic Law
3. Software – Title 6 (Computer Programs.) of Book XI (Intellectual Property and Trade Secrets) of the Code of Economic Law
4. Database rights – Title 7 (Databases) and Title 5 (Copyrights and Neighbouring Rights) of Book XI (Intellectual Property and Trade Secrets) of the Code of Economic Law
5. Semiconductors – Title 8 (Topographies of Semiconductor Products) of Book XI (Intellectual Property and Trade Secrets) of the Code of Economic Law
6. Trademarks – Benelux Convention on Intellectual Property of February 25, 2005, as amended by the Protocol of December 11, 2017
7. Designs – Benelux Convention on Intellectual Property of February 25, 2005, as amended by the Protocol of December 11, 2017
Copyright and related rights, patents, trademarks, designs, utility models, and plant breeder’s rights are the different types of IPRs protected by IPR enforcement in Belgium.
For ensuring that the case is investigated, the trademark owner must file its criminal complaint before the investigation judge with a formal civil claim. In such a case in Belgium, the trademark owner will have to pay a deposit to cover the costs of the investigation.
Any interested party and even the public prosecutor (ex officio) can file a trademark infringement action; therefore, a local counsel is not required.
Gathering of evidence at an early stage may prove to be beneficial since the rights holder may also request the court to authorize the actual seizure of all goods suspected to be counterfeited or to prohibit the seized party from moving, altering, or disposing of such allegedly infringing goods. The same requires a higher threshold of proving that the goods are infringing in nature.
Yes. A claim is time-barred after 05 or 10 years, depending on the infringement in question (contractual or extra-contractual).
A) Government Authorities - Yes
B) Police Officials - Yes
C) Judiciary - Yes
D) Customs - Yes
Yes
Yes
A) Injunctions - Yes
B) Monetary Compensation - Yes
C) Raids - Yes
D) Seizures - Yes
E) Destruction - Yes
No
Proceedings on the merits may take around 18-24 months to obtain a ruling at first instance. An appeal must be lodged within 01 month of the date of serving the judgment to the other party. The typical timeframe for an appeal proceeding is at least 01 to 02 years, but can be longer in some jurisdictions or where an expert opinion is required.
Civil litigation in Belgium is time-consuming.
Yes
Yes
A) Responsible Authority – Criminal courts
B) Imprisonment Term - Malicious or fraudulent infringement of IP rights is penalised with imprisonment of 01 to 05 years
C) Monetary Fine - Malicious or fraudulent infringement of IP rights is penalised with a fine between €500 and €100,000
Other criminal remedies include total or partial closure of the establishment operated by the convicted person and temporary or permanent disqualification from commercial activities.
The injured party may claim damages during the criminal proceedings or may initiate separate civil proceedings seeking damages. To claim damages, the same principles apply as in civil cases on the merits (see below). The injured party must prove its loss or damage and if the damage cannot be quantified, the criminal courts can decide ex aequo et bono on the amount of the damage. In addition, the party claiming damages may request the seized materials used in the creation or manufacture of the infringing goods, as well as samples of the infringing goods.
The centralization of IP litigation aims to enhance the specialisation of the judges, but it has so far not proven very successful because of the significant judicial backlog in Brussels. Therefore, decisions may be very time-taking.
Arbitration is possible, but in practice, it is mainly resorted to in disputes between licensors and licensees or in other contractual disputes.
Yes
Yes
Remedies available under border control measures (customs) include destruction of goods or donating the same to charitable institutions.
The applicant must bear the costs of customs intervention during enforcement.
Court proceedings
No