Karel De Gucht – Which Course to Take against Counterfeiters?

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Introduction: Trade policy pursues a clear economic goal: more growth & jobs

Since my first day as European Trade Commissioner, I have been developing all my actions as Trade Commissioner in the wider context of a growth, jobs and world affairs agenda. We cannot conduct trade policy in a vacuum. Our trade policy pursues a clear economic goal and it is important that we reach out and explain our approach. This is why I am delighted to be here tonight to present the contribution of the European Commission to better protect Intellectual Property inside and outside the European Union.

Our approach in trade policy is based on open markets within a strong rules-based international system. This approach fosters growth and jobs in the EU, as well as among our partners around the world.

Trade, in both economic and political terms, is part of the way out of the current economic crisis. Trade fosters greater production efficiency, more competition and more consumer choice.

A high standard of intellectual property protection is essential in a knowledge based economy, such as the EU’s, if we want to maintain the conditions necessary for an enabling environment that protects and promotes the essential innovative talent we have in Europe.

The importance of IPR is illustrated by a couple of figures. 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.

IPR Policy within the EU

We need rules that promote, rather than inhibit, innovation within the EU. My colleague, Michel Barnier, has initiated a policy review which led the Commission to adopt a comprehensive communication in May of this year. I’d like to mention just a few key steps of this communication for the next couple of years:

  • Firstly, the long-awaited unitary EU patent, is now close to finalisation.
  • Secondly, proposals to revise both the Community Trade Mark Regulation and the Trade Mark Directive. These proposals will aim at for example simplifying the registration procedure and clarifying the scope of trade mark rights with respect to customs procedures.
  • Thirdly, a review of the 2004 IPR Enforcement Directive to improve IPR enforcement in the digital environment and to address problems caused by diverging implementation of some of its across the EU.
  • I could mention many other IPR initiatives of the Commission, regarding for instance copyright legislation – such as a proposal for a Directive on orphan works, a proposal for multi-territorial copyright licensing, etc.

I mentioned these internal market proposals, not only because they matter to you and to our growth objectives, but also because, in our trade agreements negotiations, we will benefit from a stronger and better harmonised internal market. This creates leverage for us in our negotiations with third countries and allows us to ask for meaningful protection in third countries for EU industry’s intellectual property rights.  Here to read more.

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