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Brussels, 25 April 2014
Statement by Michel Barnier, EU Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, to mark World Intellectual Property Day 2014 (26 April)
"Intellectual Property, a cornerstone in strengthening the EU economy”
Intellectual property has never been as important as it is today. Following one of the worst economic crises the world has seen, the EU is on its way to recovery. In doing so, the EU needs to be able to count on one of its main strengths: its intellectual capital and human resources, people who are highly skilled and educated. In today’s global knowledge-based economy, we need superior technical skill and innovation, which in practice relies on a well-functioning intellectual property (IP) infrastructure.
A recent study found that 39% of total economic activity in the EU (worth some €4.7 trillion annually) is generated by IPR-intensive industries, and approximately 35% of all employment in the EU is provided directly or indirectly by these industries.1
From registration to enforcement, efficient IP protection is essential if the EU is to attract and invest further in the creative and innovative talent that can create more growth and sustainable employment. From creating ideas to translating them into knowledge and inventions to promote innovation and economic growth, intellectual property rights (IPRs) help stimulate innovation, encourage investment and disseminate technology and other knowledge in socially beneficial ways.
We have worked hard to improve and develop the European single market’s IP infrastructure to provide the right tools, protection and incentives to creators and inventors, so that they are able to attract funding and continue to innovate in the interest of everyone in the EU.
The Commission’s aim is to remove obstacles to the functioning of the single market for companies’ whole business cycle. This has led to a number of recent initiatives , such as the creation of the unitary patent, which will allow companies to have unitary patent protection for 25 Member States; the ongoing trademark reform; the directive on collective rights management and multi-territorial licensing of rights in musical works for online use; the "Licences for Europe" dialogue, where industry pledged solutions to bring more online content to all Europeans; a proposal on the protection against misappropriation of trade secrets; and the ongoing work on Memoranda of Understanding to prevent commercial-scale IP infringements on the internet, applying the “Follow the Money” principle.
The Commission is also committed to an ongoing review of the EU copyright legal framework, to make sure it remains fit for the digital age and the single market. Right holders need to be able to rely on the necessary incentives to continue creating, while the fruits of innovation and creation must be accessible to the widest number of people.
The Commission is addressing the challenges posed by the changing digital landscape, and will continue to do so, so that the next generation can benefit from the transformational potential of innovation and intellectual property within our industry and society, and hence seize the opportunities of the digital age.