Ads sometimes appear on sites that advertisers may not have chosen as they could be detrimental to their brand (for example gambling, adult sites or sites that infringe intellectual property rights). In some countries, the online advertising industry has been developing initiatives aimed at tackling the issue of online ad misplacement by establishing good practice in a business perspective. Other initiatives have been developed specifically in the context of intellectual property rights (IPR) enforcement. These initiatives are based on a “follow the money” approach, which are aimed at removing advertising revenue flows from IPR infringing sites to dissuade these activities in collaboration with local authorities.
On 1 July 2014, the European Commission published a Communication on the Action Plan ‘Towards a renewed consensus on the enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights’ in which it paved the way towards a “follow the money approach”, seeking to deprive commercial scale infringers of the revenue flows that drive them into their activities. To do so, the Commission would facilitate the development of voluntary Memoranda of Understanding to reduce the profits of commercial-scale intellectual property infringements in the online environment, following Stakeholder Dialogues involving advertising service providers, payment services and shippers.
Since the publication of the Commission’s Action Plan, IAB Europe has been actively involved in the Commission’s initiative and providing both the Commission and the Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property rights with intelligence on existing industry initiatives to combat IPR infringement.
In its Communication on a Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe published on 6th May, the Commission announced its intention to make legislative proposals in 2016 to modernise enforcement of IPR, focusing on commercial-scale infringements (the “follow the money” approach) as well as its cross-border applicability.