In summary, the current position is that IP rights owners are not prohibited from protecting and enforcing their IP rights in Iran and Syria, under the existing EU and US sanctions.
However, difficulties remain and businesses should ensure that any company or individual with which they conduct business in Iran and Syria (including licensees, distributors, customers and professional advisors) are not listed on the designated persons registers maintained by the national governments in the EU and by the US government.
IP rights owners with a presence in the EU or the US, or with employees who are nationals from the EU or the US, will be required to comply with all applicable sanctions. It is therefore important that businesses with interests in sanctioned countries conduct regular assessments in order to avoid a breach of EU or US sanctions and the serious penalties that would then apply.
We set out below a more detailed review of the EU and US sanction regulations, together with some suggested action points for IP rights owners with interests in Iran and Syria:
EU sanctions against Syria and Iran
The EU has implemented economic and trade sanctions against Iran and Syria, and specific entities and individuals in these countries.
The EU sanctions apply to any person in the EU, entities which are incorporated in the EU and nationals of EU countries, as well as to any business carried out within the EU. The EU sanctions effectively restrict certain activities in relation to:
Iran under Regulation 267/2012 (as amended); and Syria under Regulation 36/2012 (as amended), (collectively the EU Regulations).
There are two key restrictions under the EU Regulations:
1.1 "Identity Based" restrictions
These restrictions prohibit those persons subject to the EU Regulation from engaging in any economic activity with certain designated persons. The relevant factor is whom the person is trading with (as opposed to which activity is being undertaken).
Specifically, persons subject to the EU Regulations have to freeze funds and economic resources of designated persons, and so are restricted from dealing with them, whether directly or indirectly through a third party.
Accordingly, it is important to check the lists of designated persons (which are maintained and updated by the national governments in the EU) to ensure that business partners and customers do not appear on these lists.
1.2 "Activity Based" restrictions
The EU Regulations also prohibit certain...