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Taking the EU’s new industrial strategy, adopted on March 10, as a starting point, as well as intellectual and industrial property as a key economic growth driver, on November 25 the Commission published a new intellectual property action plan, intended to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) make the most of their inventions and creations (in reality, only one of the Plan’s measures has been specifically designed to achieve this objective), and ensure that these inventions and creations can benefit the economy and society (the “Action Plan”).
This action plan is based on the idea that intangible assets, such as trademarks, designs, patents and software, are a key component of the current knowledge economy, whose value within companies has increased exponentially since 1975.
In this context, and in the Commission’s view, Europe’s intellectual and industrial property framework should support economic recovery and resilience in key economic areas, so that companies are able to protect their inventions and perform at the highest level while, at the same time, Europe can face the challenges that allow it to compete globally and lead the technology race.
With these objectives in mind, the Action Plan published by the Commission announces measures in the following five areas:
- To improve and update the protection of intellectual and industrial property so that it can be adapted to the digital age. Among the measures, the Action Plan intends to (i) improve supplementary protection certificates (SPCs) for patented medicines and phytosanitary products, (ii) modernize the protection of designs in the EU, (iii) strengthen the protection of agricultural geographical indications, (iv) address the impact of new technologies through industrial dialogue, and (v) accelerate the deployment of the unitary patent system throughout Member States.
- To fight counterfeiting and improve respect for intellectual and industrial property rights. Other proposed measures include creating anti-counterfeiting instruments to promote and facilitate effective cooperation between holders of intellectual and industrial property rights, intermediaries (such as online marketplaces) and law enforcement authorities, and integrating best practices and the use of appropriate tools and new technologies.
- To encourage SMEs to implement intellectual and industrial property mechanisms. To help SMEs (which are innovators and creators) to obtain the maximum performance from their intangible assets, the Action Plan proposes measures aimed at improving information and advice, either through a new system of financial support from European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) funds for the first year, or through participation in EU-funded research and innovation programs based on intangible assets.
- To facilitate the exchange of intellectual and industrial property. The Action Plan also seeks to improve (i) access to critical intangible assets on which the EU’s economy and society depend, (ii) the exchange of information in times of crisis, (iii) transparency and predictability in the granting of essential patent licenses (such as for connected cars), and (iv) copyright infrastructure.
- To promote a level playing field on a global scale. The Commission seeks to develop global intellectual and industrial property standards to strengthen the EU’s position as a world leader, as well as to harden the EU’s response to unfair practices by non-member states.
This plan announces intellectual and intellectual property reforms. Some of these are essential (for example, the need to review design protection). Others, not so much (the accelerated deployment of the unitary patent system). In any case, we will have to wait to see how these measures will be implemented and how they will work in practice.
Authors: Adaya Esteban y Jorge Llevat
This post is also available in: Español