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Ana-Maria Baciu: At the intersection of intellectual property and consumer protection. Brief considerations.

May 2024

Ana-Maria Baciu has authored an insightful and informative article reflecting her combined expertise in intellectual property and consumer protection. Her passion for these areas of law and her commitment to making the sound of knowledge heard, amplify its consistency and practicality. 

The state, by means provided by law, protects citizens in their capacity as consumers, providing the necessary framework for unhindered access to products and services, as well as complete information about the essential characteristics of such, and defending and ensuring the legitimate rights and interests of individuals against unfair practices, their participation in substantiating and making decisions in their capacity as consumers.

This is the opening paragraph of the oldest national normative act in the field of consumer protection in Romania, Government Ordinance no. 21/1992 on consumer protection (OG 21/1992).

Still in force, the Ordinance creates a direct link between consumer protection and intellectual property protection, by prohibiting the production, import and marketing of falsified or counterfeit products.

This is not the only piece of legislation that protects consumers by banning products that infringe intellectual property. Over time, the Romanian authorities have shown a constant concern for the protection of consumers by preventing infringements of intellectual property rights.

Thus, the so called Consumer Code (Law 296/2004) prohibits, in its turn, the import, manufacture, distribution, as well as the marketing of falsified or counterfeit products […] that may affect the life, health or safety of consumers, while Law 363/2007 on combating unfair practices of traders in relation to consumers and harmonization of regulations with European legislation on protection consumers (Law 363/2007) prohibits, qualifying these actions as misleading practices for consumers, any marketing activity concerning the product, including comparative advertising, creating confusion with another product, trademark, name or other distinctive signs of a competitor.

On the other hand, the National Intellectual Property Strategy for the period 2024 – 2028 (the Strategy), adopted by the Romanian Government by Decision 1272/2023 (GD 1272/2023), creates a bridge with consumer protection from the other direction, expressly aiming to create conditions for a creative and innovative business environment, which increases investor confidence, but also, In the long run, strengthening good practices of economic and creative agents that would stimulate the development of a large audience of responsible consumers.

Through this GD, the Government organized the Interdepartmental Committee for the Coordination of Strategy and Policies in the Field of Intellectual Property, which has among its attributions the monitoring of public opinion information through media campaigns to raise consumer awareness on the negative consequences of infringement of intellectual property rights.

The Strategy pays substantial attention to fighting infringements of intellectual property rights committed in the online environment, as part of the activity of international criminal networks, and/or endangering national security or consumer health.

Moreover, the Strategy lists the National Authority for Consumer Protection among the main institutions with attributions and responsibilities in the field of intellectual property, together with authorities such as the State Office for Inventions and Trademarks (OSIM), the Romanian Copyright Office (ORDA), the Public Ministry (Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice), the Ministry of Internal Affairs (General Inspectorate of Romanian Police and General Inspectorate of the Border Police), the Ministry of Justice or the Romanian Customs Authority.

Evaluating all these elements, we can conclude that now, 30 years after the adoption of the first relevant normative act for this field, consumer protection by protecting against intellectual property infringements continues to be among the concerns of the Romanian state, and the legislation in the field to develop and evolve.

We therefore believe that we have reason to be confident when we look at the present and future of these two areas of practice that are vital for the protection of citizens’ rights – consumer protection law and intellectual property law.

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