Intellectual property - Priorities for the next institutional cycle
Intellectual property (IP) is a powerful tool to drive innovation, growth, competitiveness and job creation in Europe. IP helps European businesses thrive and unlock new sources of revenue. IP rights that are adequately protected and effectively used provide a substantial competitive advantage on the marketplace.
BusinessEurope proposes a comprehensive EU strategy on IP for the coming legislature which defines the main priorities – general and with respect to each IP right and knowledge-shared asset – later complemented by concrete ideas for action and key recommendations to help IP deliver its well-recognised benefits to companies, citizens and the society at large.
The EU should include IP among general EU industrial policy goals, as well as underline the positive impact of IP on various policy areas, e.g. the internal market, innovation, digital economy, health, energy, competition and trade matters. IP should be part of any industrial policy discussion, also covering innovation and competitiveness in Europe.
Raising awareness of the benefits of IP should also be a priority. Europe needs to develop an “IP literacy” intended to foster education on IP matters. The use of IP and knowledge-based assets (e.g. trade secrets) should be better promoted as a major business opportunity through international, EU and national projects.
EU businesses are facing intense competition from third-country competitors and need a level playing field, i.e. the same IP standards worldwide to apply. To ensure that this competition is fair, the EU should maintain a strong, high-quality and coherent IP strategy when it comes to discussing any bilateral trade agreements, as well as possible revisions of WTO rules. Strong and harmonised IP standards should be guaranteed in any attempts to reform bilateral and multilateral trade agreements. In addition, the fundamental principles laid down in the TRIPs agreement must remain a priority and the EU should be engaged in promoting TRIPs implementation and benefits in new emerging economies.
The acceleration of technological progress and digital revolution both create new challenges in the IP environment and open up new opportunities. New technologies such as 3D printing, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and data managing should be part of any policy discussion in the context of IP. The EU must ensure continuous efforts to achieve a good balance between strong IP protection, on the one hand, and legal certainty to encourage new technologies, on the other hand.
It is fundamental that EU upholds and strengthens its commitment to fighting counterfeiting, unlawful transfer of technology and other unlawful practices, which ultimately would deprive IP holders of their legitimate rights.