The Commission has publicly committed, most recently in its Communication on a strategy for the Digital Single Market, to adopting a “follow the money” approach aiming to cut the revenue flows that drive commercial-scale IPR infringers into their activities. The approach seeks to create a Memorandum of Understanding where signatories put in place mechanisms to minimise the placing of online advertising on websites which infringe IPRs. By removing a revenue stream for IPR infringers, the thinking goes, there is a much lower economic incentive for the infringement of IPR. The approach therefore seeks to target only commercial-scale infringers.

IAB Europe became a signatory to the European Commission’s Memorandum of Understanding on online advertising and IPR (MoU) on 25 June 2018, together with four national IABs and nine IAB Europe corporate members. IAB Europe’s role is to continue promotion of the MoU to member companies, which will mostly consist of informing members about its existence and reporting on meetings. New signatories may only join the MoU after the end of the assessment period (June 2019, 1 year after signature).

At a stakeholder meeting organised by DG GROW on 25 March 2019, some initial figures were revealed to the MoU signatories by WhiteBullet, who has been commissioned to report on the effects of the MoU. The data they collect enables WhiteBullet to determine the types and amount of advertising appearing on websites which infringe intellectual property rights or promote the sale of counterfeit goods on a commercial scale.

Overall, the results show a slight improvement for the Q1 of 2019 as compared to the time before signature of the MoU, which could indicate that the MoU is having a modest positive impact on the issue of ad misplacement on IP infringing sites. The full draft assessment of the MoU’s impact will be made available to signatories preceding the next meeting of signatories on 24 June 2019. While reliant on a successful initial assessment period, it appears that the Commission and current signatories are positive about the MoU’s impact so far. This may lead to further support for the MoU after the initial assessment period, which would include opening it up to new signatories.

Members of IAB Europe interested in more details about the figures presented on 25 March 2019 should get in touch with the IAB Europe team directly.

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