Protection of Intellectual Property key to new industrial policy for Europe

The EPC Report A New Industrial Policy for Europe, authored by Claire Dhéret and Martina Morosi, with a contribution also from the IFRRO CEO in the Toolkit for implementing the Vision chapter, was presented at a conference in Brussels on 12 November, with nearly 300 attendees. The Report was well received by the audience.

The two overall guiding principles advocated in the Report for a future European industrial policy are a more collaborative approach – across sectors, countries, etc., and the optimising of the EU strength. Although the need for IP protection is highlighted as a key element in the regulatory framework for a future industrial policy for Europe, and was emphasised also in the presentation of the Report, focus was, naturally, on other elements proposed to stimulate the development of the European industrial sector.

In his conference opening speech, Antonio Tajani, the European Commission Vice-President responsible for Industry and Entrepreneurship, pointed out its timeliness. There is a new European Commission, and Commission President Juncker has announced that the strengthening of the European industry is a focus point. Tajani also suggested that a more flexible approach to competition issues may be appropriate.

Much emphasis was put on Research and Development (R&D). It was noted that, whilst industrial countries outside Europe, such as the US, Japan and Korea, allocate less than ¼ of their public spending in research towards fundamental research, focusing more on applied research and innovation, the opposite is true for Europe, where 80% of the public spending is in fundamental research. It was alleged that most of the remaining 20% was directed towards societal and not applied studies and research. Equally important, a plea was made for results of European funded research to be first exploited in Europe, and also in this respect follow other industrialised countries.

Studies presented at the conference documented that the comparative advantage of the print and publishing sector has been on a steady and stable increase since 1995. Olav Stokkmo, the IFRRO CEO, commented that this shows that the copyright framework in Europe functions, and that one should be careful to make changes to it. This is also consistent with the OHIM study published last year on the contribution of IP to the European economy and the joint comments of the OHIM and European Patent Office Directors on the EU copyright rules: “European countries have played a major part in shaping a modern and balanced system of IP rights which not only guarantees innovators their due reward but also stimulates a competitive market.”