Friday, 27 May 2011

Euro-Hargreaves? The Commission's IP Blueprint

There's a lot of blueprinting going on at present. I hope that the Hargreaves Review and the Commission talked to each other, because both have come up with comprehensive reviews within a few days of each other. On 24 May the Commission stuck its oar in, and several recommendations overlap or are identical with those of the Hargreaves Review - which might be an indication of the futility of trying to deal with intellectual property policy at the national level ... Commissioner Barnier said:
IP is the key to innovation – and the word property is the key for an inventor to have the incentive and get the funding for innovation.
Hmm. That could cause controversy, in itself. Property? Is there no alternative? And is there a suggestion of the "means and ends" problem here?

The Commission recommends (in the words of its press release (IP/11/630) - I am under pressure of time, but will return to this and deal with it in greater detail another time):

  • 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 violationsCounterfeiting 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.
I like the parallel with the engineering process of blueprinting - though I don't think the verb meaning was intended by the Commission, or anyone else who uses the word in this context:
Dismantling engine and reassembling it to exact specifications and tolerances. This process may help to improve engine performance, smoothness, and reliability. (Dictionary of Automotive Terms.)
The intellectual property system (if I may be forgiven for using such a loose expression) would certainly benefit from this. However, Wikipedia sounds a cautionary note:
Ideally, blueprinting is performed on components removed from the production line before normal balancing and finishing. If finished components are blueprinted, there is the risk that the further removal of material will weaken the component.
Perhaps, then, we're too late. Or maybe the important point is that no-one is suggesting the removal of material from it ...

No comments:


blogger templates | Make Money Online