[Ip-health] EC: Commission sets out "blueprint" for Intellectual Property Rights to boost creativity and innovation

Joanna Keenan joanna.l.keenan at gmail.com
Tue May 24 07:06:06 PDT 2011

European Commission's press release today.

Commission sets out "blueprint" for Intellectual Property Rights to boost
creativity and innovation

Brussels, 24 May 2011

Commission sets out "blueprint" for Intellectual Property Rights to boost
creativity and innovation

Intellectual property rights (IPR), which comprise patents, trademarks,
designs and geographical indications, as well as copyright (authors' rights)
and rights related to copyright (for performers, producers and
broadcasters), have been around for centuries. Often, without our even
realising, they affect our daily lives: they protect the technology we use
(cars, mobile phones, trains), the food we eat and the music we listen to or
the films we watch. But in the last few years, technological change and, in
particular, the growing importance of online activities, have completely
changed the world in which IPR operate. The existing mix of European and
national rules are no longer adapted and need to be modernised. That is why
the Commission has adopted today a comprehensive strategy to revamp the
legal framework in which IPR operate. Our objective is to enable inventors,
creators, users and consumers to adapt to the new circumstances and to
enhance new business opportunities. The new rules will strike the right
balance between promoting creation and innovation, in part by ensuring
reward and investment for creators and, on the other hand, promoting the
widest possible access to goods and services protected by IPR. Getting this
balance right will make a real difference to businesses (from the individual
artist working alone to the big pharmaceutical companies) by encouraging
investment in innovation. This will benefit the EU's growth and
competitiveness which is delivered through the single market. Consumers will
benefit from wider and easier access to information and cultural content,
for example online music. The strategy deals with many issues to ensure IPR
are covered comprehensively - from the patent a business needs to protect an
invention to tackling the misuse of such inventions via a proposal also
adopted today which will strengthen action on counterfeiting and piracy.
Among the first deliverables of this IPR overall strategy are today's
proposals for an easier licensing system for so-called "orphan works" that
will allow many cultural works to be accessible online, and for a new
regulation to reinforce customs actions in fighting trade of IPR infringing

"Ensuring the right level of protection of intellectual property rights in
the single market is essential for Europe's economy. Progress depends on new
ideas and new knowledge," said Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier.
"There will be no investment in innovation if rights are not protected. On
the other hand, consumers and users need to have access to cultural content,
for example online music, for new business models and cultural diversity to
both thrive. Our aim today is to get the balance between these two
objectives right for IPR across the board. To make Europe's framework for
intellectual property an enabler for companies and citizens and fit for the
online world and the global competition for ideas."

Algirdas ?emeta, Commissioner responsible for Customs said: "Customs are
ideally placed at the border, to protect citizens and legitimate businesses
and their contribution is highly valuable in fighting counterfeiting and
piracy". He added: "I am convinced that a robust system of intellectual
property rights is essential for the whole EU economy. With today's
proposal, customs will be able to provide greater protection for IPR and to
better tackle the trade in IPR infringing goods."

The IPR Strategy sets out a series of short- and long-term key policy
actions in various areas which include:

   - Patents: the Commission already launched proposals in April for a
   unitary patent protection under enhanced cooperation (see IP/11/470).
   Meanwhile, work will continue on proposals relating to the creation of a
   unified and specialised patent court for the classical European patents and
   the future European patents with unitary effect. This would considerably
   reduce litigation costs and the time it takes to resolve patent disputes. It
   would also increase legal certainty for business.
   - Trade marks: while trade mark registration in the EU has been
   harmonised in Member States for almost 20 years and the Community trade mark
   was established 15 years ago, there is an increasing demand for more
   streamlined, effective and consistent registration systems. The Commission
   intends to present proposals in 2011 to modernise the trade mark system both
   at EU and national levels and adapt it to the Internet era.
   - Geographical indications (GIs): GIs secure a link between a product's
   quality and its geographical origin. However, there is currently no such
   system available at EU level for the protection of non-agricultural products
   such as Carrara marble or Solingen knives. This leads to an unlevel playing
   field in the Single Market. The Commission will therefore carry out an
   in-depth analysis of the existing legal framework in the Member States as
   well as the potential economic impact of protection for non-agricultural GIs
   in 2011 and 2012. Depending on the outcome of an impact assessment, these
   could eventually be followed up by legislative proposals.
   - Multi-territorial copyright licensing: While the substantive scope of
   copyright has been largely harmonised, rights are still licensed on a
   national basis. In view of the digital Single Market, streamlining copyright
   licensing and revenue distribution is one of the most important challenges
   that must be addressed. In the 2nd half of 2011, the Commission will submit
   a proposal to create a legal framework for the efficient multi-territorial
   collective management of copyright, in particular in the music sector. It
   will also establish common rules on the transparent governance and revenue
   distribution. In the second half of 2011, the Commission will also launch a
   consultation on the various issues related to the online distribution of
   audiovisual works.
   - Digital libraries: The creation of European digital libraries that
   preserve and disseminate Europe's rich cultural and intellectual heritage is
   key to the development of the knowledge economy. To facilitate this, the
   Commission is also tabling today a legislative proposal that will enable the
   digitisation and online availability of so-called "orphan works" (works like
   books and newspaper or magazine articles that are still protected by
   copyright but where the right holders are not known or cannot be located to
   obtain copyright permissions) – see MEMO/11/333. Concurrently, the
   Commission looks forward to concluding a Memorandum of Understanding amongst
   libraries, publishers, authors and collecting societies to facilitate
   licensing solutions to digitise and make available out-of-commerce books.
   - IPR violations: Counterfeiting and piracy are a growing threat for the
   economy. Between 2005 and 2009, the number of registered cases at the EU
   borders of goods suspected of infringing IPR increased from 26 704 to
   43 572. Meanwhile, the creative industry estimates that piracy has cost the
   European music, movie, TV and software industry €10 billion and more than
   185 000 jobs in 2008 alone. The Commission is set to intensify its efforts
   in this area. Firstly, the Commission has tabled a regulation today that is
   to reinforce the European Observatory on Counterfeiting and Piracy, which it
   launched in 2009, by entrusting its tasks to the Office for Harmonisation in
   the Internal Market (OHIM). This will allow the Observatory to benefit from
   OHIM's intellectual property expertise and strong record of delivery in
   trade marks and designs. The Regulation now passes to the European
   Parliament and the Council for consideration. Secondly, in Spring 2012, the
   Commission will propose to revise the IPR Enforcement Directive (see
   IP/04/540). The Directive provides for civil law measures allowing right
   holders to enforce their intellectual property rights but should be adapted,
   in particular to meet the specific challenges of the digital environment.
   - IPR enforcement by customs: Customs supervise all trade crossing EU
   external borders: they carry out controls for many purposes and have an
   essential role in fighting the trade in IPR infringing goods. In 2009 only,
   customs intercepted over 40 000 suspect shipments involving 118 million
   articles. Whilst the majority of goods intercepted are counterfeit or
   pirated, customs' unique position at the border allows for the enforcement
   of a wide range of intellectual property rights. As part of today's overall
   IPR strategy, the Commission also proposes a new customs regulation, to
   further reinforce the legal framework for customs' actions. The proposal
   also aims to tackle the trade in small consignments of counterfeit goods
   sent by post as the overwhelming majority of these goods results from
   internet sales.


IPR is a cornerstone of the EU economy and a key driver for its further
growth. In 2009, the value of the top 10 brands in EU countries amounted to
almost 9% of GDP on average. Copyright-based creative industries such as
software, book and newspaper publishing, music and film, contributed 3.3% to
EU GDP in 2006 and account for approximately 1.4 million SMEs, representing
8.5 million jobs. Employment in "knowledge-economy" industries increased by
24% between 1996 and 2006 compared to 6% for other industries.

For more information on Intellectual Property Rights:


See MEMO/11/332 and MEMO/11/333

For more information on the customs policy:


For more information on the new IPR customs regulation:

See MEMO/11/327


Joanna Keenan
Press Officer
Medecins Sans Frontieres
Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines

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