From the Commission’s acknowledgment of IPRs to play a key role for the Innovation Union 2020 strategy’s success, it set the path for legislative action for the years to come in its Communication “A single Market for IPRs”, 24th May 2011.
Thus, Unitary Patent Protection and litigation, modernisation of the EU trademark system, creation of a comprehensive framework for copyright in the Digital Single Market, Trade Secrets, enhanced fight against counterfeiting and piracy, the review of the IPR Enforcement Directive, have being guiding legislative efforts both at national and EU level almost over the last 10 years.
The Commission has also dedicated during these years remarkable resources to raise awareness amongst SMEs around the strategic role of IPRs to bring innovative products and services to global markets and closing the gap with global competitors, especially from the US, China and Japan.
Conclusions from different reports (“Options for an EU instrument for patent valorisation”, “IP exploitation for Industrial Innovation”, “report in Patent Aggregation”, Commission staff working document “Towards enhanced patent valorisation for growths and jobs”) have finally lead to the recent Commission ambitious SMEs action support COSME call IP pre-diagnostic and improving access to patent protection for innovative EU SMEs
Taking into account the importance of design for creating added value products, in 2013 the Commission launched the Action Plan for Design-Driven Innovation which planned the need to update the protection of intellectual property rights for designs. As a result, in 2016 a legal review on industrial design protection was conducted.
In relation with trademark protection, on December 2015 the European Parliament approved the trademarks reform package aimed at standardizing trademark registration procedures amongst EU countries.
Aligned with the increasing importance of trade secrets and know-how for business competitiveness, on 8 June 2016 the European Parliament and the Council adopted a Directive that aims also to harmonise trade secrets protection across the European Union.
By November 2017 the Commission announced an IP package aimed at completing the objectives set by the Innovation Union Strategy Communication, in areas such as IP enforcement, infringement and counterfeiting, mediation/arbitration or its guidelines for Creating a fair and balanced system for Standard Essential Patents.
Regarding copyright, last August the European Parliament rejected the proposal for a new directive aimed to adapt this regulation to the challenges of digital platforms and the Internet. Legislation was finally passed on 12 September allowing publishers to demand fees when their contents are linked by on-line companies. In addition, Internet platforms are required to implement mechanisms to avoid uploading copyrighted content.
In relation to the Unitary Patent, one of the main pillars of the Innovation Union strategy, the second half of 2018 will be a key period to confirm whether it finally comes into a reality before the 2020 deadline, which would be a truly remarkable achievement for the EU Commission, the participating member states and the European Patent Office itself, as the Unitary Patent stands over the last 40 years as a symbol of EU’s failure in innovation.
Also, a potential deal –or its lack– between the UK and the European Union before Brexit’s deadline next march 2019, will have an impact on the territorial scope of IPRs originated in the European Union.