EU Roadmap for IP Plan

CIPA submitted a response to the EU Commission’s proposed roadmap for its Intellectual Property Action Plan on 14 August 2020.

This EU initiative aims to upgrade the IP system, promote its smarter use, ensure better enforcement and promote fair play globally for IP.

We welcome the Commission’s Roadmap and invitation to provide views on the IP action plan. All areas are of direct interest to the businesses our members represent. We look forward to making more specific comments as more detailed proposals are developed. We particularly welcome the objective of well-calibrated and balanced IP policies. These clearly need to take into account the interests of innovators and owners and also competitors.

Upgrading the system for IP protection, bearing in mind that businesses favour certainty:

  • This should not necessarily mean making IP rights continuously stronger, but providing an appropriate balance for different interests e.g. enabling the Unitary Patent system to offer a “one-stop-shop” for patent protection and enforcement to include, in addition to “patent protection and enforcement”, “and challenge”.
  • There is no reference to the EU trade mark system. Although recently reviewed, there remains the problem, and recent Court of Justice decisions emphasise this, of trade mark cluttering, which means that those with marketing and branding ideas are often inhibited by the trade mark space being cluttered with rights the owners never had any intention to use or which they only had the intention to use in order to threaten or inhibit legitimate branding.
  • We welcome a review of EU legislation on industrial designs. Developing case law has lead to confusion between the boundaries of industrial design protection and copyright protection.

Licensing

CIPA supports the aim of promoting voluntary licensing and sharing of IP. A positive step would be to develop toolkits, including template agreements, for different types of collaboration and licensing arrangements. They could accelerate discussions and negotiation, although the templates should be seen as sensible starting points rather than fully negotiated agreements. The UK’s Intellectual Property Office has a very successful toolkit for collaborations between universities and businesses that is a useful reference for such a project.

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