Brussels, 16 July 2008
Communication on an Industrial Property
Rights Strategy for Europe – Frequently Asked Questions (see
1. What are industrial property rights?
rights refer to the rights associated with creations of the mind like
inventions, literary and artistic works, symbols, and designs. Intellectual
property is usually divided into two categories: copyright and industrial
property. Copyright includes literary and artistic creations like novels, poems,
paintings, music and photographs. Industrial property rights include patents for
inventions, trade marks, industrial designs, plant variety rights, and
2. Why are industrial property rights important for
Protection of intellectual (and industrial) property is a key
framework condition for innovation, stimulating R&D investment and transfer
of knowledge from the laboratory to the marketplace. For example patents give an
incentive to innovate by awarding an exclusive right to use a new invention for
a limited period. European businesses need strong industrial property rights to
maintain their competitive advantage in the global economy through
3. Why do we need action at EU level?
Protection for most
industrial property rights exists at EU level. A coherent policy is therefore
necessary for European businesses to benefit fully from opportunities within the
Single Market. The Communication mentions where action is more appropriate at
Member State level.
4. Why does the Communication focus on industrial property rights, what
The Communication is part of a package on intellectual
property rights adopted by the Commission at the same time. The other elements
are a proposal to extend the term of copyright on sound recordings and a Green
Paper on copyright in the knowledge-economy, which intends to launch a
consultation process. However, the Communication does include copyright in order
to present a coherent picture on the fight against counterfeiting and piracy,
where issues concerned by industrial property and copyright are interlinked.
5. What subjects does the Communication cover?
sets out a coherent framework for different categories of industrial property
rights. Subjects covered include the quality of industrial property rights,
support for small and medium-sized enterprises, and the fight against
counterfeiting and piracy. These are covered with relation to action in the EU
and the international dimension with third countries.
6. What are the main actions in the Communication?
Communication proposes studies, consultations and other non-legislative
initiatives. Examples include improved cooperation within and between Member
States to fight against counterfeiting and piracy, a study on patent quality in
Europe, and assessment of the potential for continued and expanded support for
SMEs in third countries.
7. How does this all relate to the Community patent?
Last year, the
Commission launched a Communication "Enhancing the patent system in Europe"
This has revitalised the discussion on the Community patent and jurisdiction
system towards finding solutions on patents. This Communication on industrial
property rights is a wider reflection on future initiatives. It does not deal
with the Community patent and jurisdiction, but nevertheless stresses the
importance of an urgent adoption of the Community patent for EU
8. Why is the Commission launching this Communication now?
and balanced IPR system is a driving force for promoting innovation and
improving competitiveness. In the 2008-2010 cycle of the renewed Lisbon strategy
for growth and jobs, the investment in knowledge and innovation is one of the
four priority areas for focused actions. In order for Europe to respond to the
challenges of the global economy, a strategy on industrial property rights is
needed to ensure a high-quality, affordable, consistent and balanced
9. What consultation has taken place in formulating the
On patents, the Commission conducted a consultation on the
future of patent system in Europe in 2006. The Communication is a general
strategy covering the full range of industrial property rights. Further
stakeholder consultation will take place on the specific individual actions
proposed in the strategy, such as on geographical indications.
More information on Industrial Property is available at: