Customs administrations are in the frontline to enforce intellectual property rights at the EU borders. In order to effectively carry out their task, customs need the active engagement of the right-holders themselves. Co-operation is the most effective weapon: thanks to the information provided by the rights holders, customs may identify more easily goods suspected of infringing intellectual property rights (IPR) and take the necessary action.
As a right holder, you can defend your rights by asking customs to detain goods suspected of infringing IPR.
Where to apply?
In order to do so, you should lodge an application for action (AFA) with the competent customs department requesting them to take action.
Where will the AFA be valid?
The Application For Action (AFA) can be a national or Union application depending on the intellectual property right(s) on which it is based. A Union application for action when granted in one EU Member State has the same legal status in all other Member States, where action was requested for in that application.
How are MS and the Commission exchanging information regarding AFAs and infringement cases?
In accordance with Regulation (EU) No 608/2013 regarding customs enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), the Commission has set up a central database, called COPIS (COunterfeit and anti-Piracy Information System), which is operational since 01/01/2014.
COPIS is set up as an EU customs system to facilitate cooperation and sharing of information in the area of IPR protection. It covers all customs actions related to IPR enforcement at the EU external border, i.e. the central management of the lifecycle of AFAs and the information on identified infringements. COPIS receives the data provided by the MS, stores them at a central level, dispatches the information which can also be used for statistical purposes. It allows the exchange of information in a pre-defined format between the IPR competent customs departments of the MS, the Commission and the European Union Intellectual Property Office, which has put in place the IPEP Trader Portal for COPIS as mentioned here after.
Nota bene: right holders do not submit information directly to the COPIS system.
How to submit the AFA?
As of 13 December 2021, right holders wishing to submit an AFA should connect to the IPEP Trader Portal for COPIS or to the national portal of the following Member States:
The national portal of the Member States (DE, ES, IT) is only for electronic submission of an application to be issued by the competent customs department of that Member State. It can be a national application or a Union application.
The IPEP trader portal for COPIS is a single electronic access point deployed at EU level for submitting an application (national or Union) to any of the 27 Member States’ competent customs department.
The holder of the decision should address any further communication, amendments or requests for extension of the decision granting an application via the same portal as used for the initial application.
Where applications have been filed using the paper-based forms, any further communication or requests for extension of the decision granting an application should be now sent using the IPEP Trader Portal for COPIS or the national portals in the three Member States mentioned above.
How can I access the IPEP Trader Portal?
The access to the IPEP Trader Portal for COPIS is validated and managed through the Uniform User Management and Digital Signature System (UUM&DS) or via an account in IPEP.
Right holders and their representatives need to hold a valid Economic Operators Registration and Identification number (EORI number) and the appropriate roles (cust-executive profile) assigned to access the Intellectual Property Enforcement Portal (IPEP).
In order to obtain an EORI number, applicants and representatives need to contact the competent customs authority for EORI registration in the country where they are established. Persons not established in the customs territory of the Union should request the assignment of the EORI number to the customs authorities of the EU country responsible for the place where they first lodge a declaration or apply for a decision. See also the TAXUD EORI information website
The UUM&DS system implements identity federation between the Commission and all Member States' identity and access management (IAM) systems for the purposes of providing secure authorised access to the EU Customs electronic systems. For further information and material on UUM&DS, follow this link.
Access to IPEP and UUM&DS
To connect with the systems, please use one of the supported internet browsers: Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.
Online addresses to the systems:
- IPEP Trader Portal for COPIS – where the Economic Operators in Member States will register their applications; the authentication being provided by UUM&DS or IPEP
- Central Uniform User Management and Digital Signature System – UUM&DS – where Member States traders may manage authorisation assignments (delegations)
Documentation about the systems:
- IPEP Trader Portal AFA filling user guide
- National Service Desks Contact Points
- Legal notice containing a disclaimer, a copyright notice and rules on both personal data protection and the use of the EU emblem by third parties
AFA forms and user manuals
- For right holders trading with China, a specific User Guide exists
Submission of information on IPR infringing goods
In addition, two forms have been elaborated in close collaboration with industry. The aim is to provide a mechanism to notify the relevant customs administrations swiftly, in a clear structured way about specific information or general trends concerning suspected IPR infringing goods.
These forms should be sent to the relevant contact point
- "Red Alert" form, to be used to notify customs about urgent, specific information
- "New Trends" form to be used to notify customs about new trends
Alerts can also be sent via the EUIPO’s IP Enforcement Portal.
Further information about the use of the alert function in IPEP can also be found in a tutorial called “How to send alerts to enforcement authorities” on YouTube