European Commission steps up protection of European intellectual property

The European Commission published the latest report on protection and enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in third countries. While developments have taken place since the publication of the previous report, concerns persist and a number of areas for improvement and action remain to be addressed. Intellectual property rights infringements worldwide cost European firms billions of euros in lost revenue and put thousands of jobs at risk. Today's report identifies three groups of countries on which the EU will focus its action.

Commissioner for Trade Phil Hogan said: “Protecting intellectual property such as trademarks, patents, or geographical indications is critical for the EU's economic growth and our ability to encourage innovation and stay competitive globally. As much as 82% of all EU exports is generated by sectors which depend on intellectual property. Infringements of intellectual property, including forced technology transfer, intellectual property theft, counterfeiting and piracy threaten hundreds of thousands of jobs in the EU every year.  The information gathered in the report will enable us to become even more efficient in protecting EU firms and workers against intellectual property infringements like counterfeiting or copyright piracy.”

The geographical and thematic priorities for the EU action to protect intellectual property rights are based on the level of economic harm to EU companies. The report will help to further focus and target efforts. The updated list of priority countries in the report remains split in three categories reflecting the scale and persistence of problems: 1) China; 2) India, Indonesia, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine; 3) Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Malaysia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Thailand.

Plant variety rights
The report also puts intellectual property related to plant varieties in the spotlight. Plant breeding can play an important role in increasing productivity and quality in agriculture, whilst minimising the pressure on the environment. The EU wants to encourage investment and research in this area, including in the development of new crops resistant to drought, flood, heat and salinity to better respond to the negative consequences of climate change. Protection of plant varieties becomes therefore one of the Commission priorities in the coming period.

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