Feeds

EC proposes overhaul of patents and industrial rights

Wants to get biz involved in rights protection

The essential guide to IT transformation

The European Commission has proposed creating a single strategy for the protection of industrial property rights in Europe. The Commission wants to integrate its strategy for industrial property rights and encourage smaller businesses to protect rights.

Patents and trade marks are the most well-known industrial property rights, but the category also includes protections for industrial designs, geographical indications and plant variety rights.

"What all these rights have in common is that they enable holders to prevent unauthorised use of an intangible asset of potential commercial value, whether this is an idea behind an innovative product or process, or an indication to the consumer of origin," said the Commission's communication.

The most radical part of the Commission's plan is the previously announced desire to create a Europe-wide patents system. Internal markets commissioner Charlie McCreevy last year proposed uniting elements of the European Patent Office, which operates outside of EU government structures, and the Commission's own cross-border patent proposals.

"Europe requires strong industrial property rights to protect its innovations and remain competitive in the global knowledge-based economy," said the Communication adopted by the Commission. "In the EU, protection at Community level exists for most of the registered industrial property rights. However, pending an agreement on the Community patent, businesses do not have this possibility in patents … the Commission considers that progress in this matter is vital and reaffirms its intention to seek agreement as a question of priority on these proposals."

"Having now established momentum towards finding solutions on patents, this Communication turns towards developing a horizontal and integrated strategy across the spectrum of industrial property rights," it said.

The Commission has announced that it will conduct research into the quality of patents, trade marks and agricultural products and conduct a feasibility study into the application of geographical protection mechanisms to non-agricultural products.

The Commission said that its aim was to improve the protection of industrial property rights, and therefore the quality of the material that is protected.

"A high-quality system of industrial property rights should achieve the acknowledged objectives of encouraging innovation and diffusion of new technology and knowledge," it said. "High-quality rights only offering rewards to inventions that meet the legal requirements are essential to a well-functioning system, along with user-friendly access of information on these rights to businesses and society."

The Communication identifies that there is a possiblity that strong industrial rights protection could fall foul of competition law, but that such instances are likely to be rare.

"Only in exceptional circumstances may the "exercise" of a right constitute an infringement of EC competition rules, in particular if the company is dominant and its behaviour is likely to lead to elimination of competition in a relevant market," it said.

The Commission also said that it was harder for smaller companies to exploit any rights they had because of the high costs of doing so. It said that this was "undesirable and highlights the need for prompt policy actions".

The Commission said that it would investigate the best way to ensure that small and medium sized companies participate in rights protection, looking at subsidies for the first 10 patent applications, lowering all costs for those companies, offering targeted subsidies or decreasing taxation from income earned by the rights.

Copyright © 2008, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
GCHQ protesters stick it to British spooks ... by drinking urine
Activists told NOT to snap pics of staff at the concrete doughnut
Britain's housing crisis: What are we going to do about it?
Rent control: Better than bombs at destroying housing
What do you mean, I have to POST a PHYSICAL CHEQUE to get my gun licence?
Stop bitching about firearms fees - we need computerisation
Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media
Rise of Twitter etc creates 'enormous challenges'
Redmond resists order to hand over overseas email
Court wanted peek as related to US investigation
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
NZ Justice Minister scalped as hacker leaks emails
Grab your popcorn: Subterfuge and slur disrupts election run up
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.