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Memorandum of Understanding on online advertising and intellectual property to continue

Published on 21 January 2020

What steps is the advertising industry taking to minimise the placement of advertising on IPR- infringing websites?

The key takeaway

The signatory businesses and associations to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) have agreed that the MoU has contributed to the minimisation of placement of advertising on IPR-infringing websites and mobile applications that infringe copyright or disseminate counterfeit goods. It will continue in effect, with new signatories joining the initiative. 

The background

The MoU came into effect on 25 July 2018. It included commitments not only to minimise the placement of advertising on infringing sites and apps, but also to remove advertising if the advertiser (or those who place advertising for others) became aware that it is on such a site or app.

A variety of parties signed up to the MoU which included advertisers, advertising agencies, trading desks, advertising platforms, advertising networks, advertising exchanges for publishers, sales houses, publishers and intellectual property owners, as well as representatives and associations of these groups.

The signatories that are directly involved in buying, selling or brokering the sale or purchase of advertising space also agreed to include provisions in their contracts with advertisers and other media buyers to ensure that ads were not placed on inappropriate sites and apps.

Why is this important?

At the end of a 12-month assessment period, the parties evaluated the effectiveness of the MoU under four headings: 
  • strengthening intellectual property rights protection;
  • reducing the harm caused by intellectual property rights infringement;
  • upholding fundamental rights; and
  • ensuring fair competition. 
The MoU was found to have contributed to minimising the placement of advertising on intellectual property-infringing websites and mobile applications. The parties agreed that they will continue to exchange and promote good practice, and develop further new initiatives (eg on technology and tools) and actions to be taken under the “follow the money” approach to intellectual property rights enforcement.

Any practical tips?

Consider bringing your business into line with the MoU by seeking to keep to a minimum any advertising on websites and mobile phone applications that infringe copyright or disseminate counterfeit goods.

The MoU is also now open for new signatories and companies, and trade associations involved in the digital advertising supply chain are strongly encouraged to join the MoU.