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[FYI] Frits Bolkestein on EU IP Policy


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Frits Bolkestein European Commissioner in charge of the Internal 
Market and Taxation The Protection of Industrial Property in Europe 
and its place in the world Opening Conference of the Trade Mark 
Office Alicante, 29 May 2000  

 DN: SPEECH/00/194     Date: 2000-05-29

     TXT: EN
     PDF: EN
     Word Processed: EN


Frits Bolkestein 

European Commissioner in charge of the Internal Market and Taxation 

The Protection of Industrial Property in Europe and its place in the 

Opening Conference of the Trade Mark Office 

Alicante, 29 May 2000

As Commissioner for the Internal Market I take a keen interest in 
adapting the single market to the new economy. The key to
success is the creation of an open and competitive Europe, which 
delivers choice for the consumer and new markets for
business. To achieve this we need to create an environment which 
nurtures dynamism and creativity, built upon the foundations
of a secure legal environment. We need to encourage as much 
innovation as possible and thereby make it attractive for industry
to invest in Europe. In this context, it is particularly important to 
put more emphasises on the protection of intellectual property
rights. It must become possible to obtain Community-wide protection 
of intellectual property rights through a simple application
system, with legal certainty and at a reasonable price. Some progress 
in the field of intellectual property right has already been
made but a lot remains to be done at the European level. Important 
legislative improvements in this field are therefore planned
for 2000. 

Before I give further details of needed legislative improvements in 
the field of industrial property rights and Patents and Designs
in particular, I should like to comment first on an already existing 
important tool of industrial property protection, the
Community trademark system. The Community trademark system is based 
upon the Regulation on the Community Trade Mark
and the Directive for the Harmonisation of National Legislation. 


In order to provide industry with a third tool of industrial property 
protection at a Community level, the Commission intends this year to 
present a proposal for a unitary Community patent system.  

This idea has been particularly welcomed by the Lisbon summit, which 
stated that innovations should be adequately rewarded within the new 
knowledge-based economy, in particular through patent protection, 
whereby an explicit reference was made to the future Community 

The Community Patent will have the same unitary features as the 
Community Trademark and the Community Design. The Community Patent 
must be affordable. It is also crucial that the Community Patent 
system should guarantee legal certainty. In this context the 
Commission has in its contribution to the Intergovernmental 
Conference on institutional reforms proposed the creation of a 
single, centralised Community jurisdiction to deal with certain 
aspects of patent litigation, such as infringement and validity, in 
first instance and at the level of appeal.  

Having today so often referred to the Alicante Office, I must in this 
context point out that due to its long and high-level experience with 
the European Patent, it is desirable that the European Patent Office 
should become the technical operator for the future Community 

The Commission is not only active in the field of industrial property 
but also proposes new legal instruments in the field of copyright.  

I should in particular like to mention the Commission proposal for a 
Directive on the artist's resale right (droit de suite). [Resale 
right is the right whereby the author, or after his death, his heirs 
or other beneficiaries, receives a percentage of the resale price of 
a work in the field of visual arts each time it is resold.] The 
discussion in Council has been controversial.  

Nevertheless, political agreement on a Common Position was reached on 
15 March albeit with the Commission reserving its position because of 
an exceptionally long transition period of 15 years, which was 
granted to some countries notably the UK. The second reading still 
has to take place in Parliament and depending on it, final adoption 
might be achieved by the end of this year.  

On the basis of work carried out in the framework of WIPO the 
Commission presented also a proposal for a Directive on Copyright and 
Related Rights in the Information Society. Negotiations in the 
Council have almost been concluded and final adoption should be 
possible by the end of this year.  

The interests of EU industry are of course not only linked to 
internal EU matters but also strongly connected also internationally. 
The internationalisation and globalisation of trade has led the 
Commission to be highly active in the external intellectual property 

The Commission, on behalf of the Community, is playing a leading role 
within the World Trade Organisation. The Commission is also very much 
engaged in the work within the World Intellectual Property 
Organisation, the traditional forum for negotiating international 
treaties dealing with intellectual property.  

This prolific activity is due to the need, clearly felt nowadays, to 
provide European firms doing business in non-Community countries with 
an adequate legal framework within which to enjoy effective, genuine 
protection of know-how and innovations. The improvement of protection 
in third countries also makes it possible to combat imports of 
counterfeit goods into the Community more effectively. In fact, the 
Commission's general objectives at international level are to 
stimulate international trade and to create a fruitful climate for 
cross- border investment.  

For the sake of completeness, I should like to point out that in the 
context of the aforementioned Intergovernmental Conference, the 
Commission is also proposing a change of the procedural rules of Art 
133 of the EU Treaty (ex Art. 113) in order to strengthen the 
possibilities to take action against Member States of the WTO, which 
do not respect the provisions of the Agreement. Such a change is 
necessary in order to strengthen further the role of the Community at 
an international level.  

A good example of the Commission's engagement on behalf of the 
Community in international work is its participation in the 
negotiation of the WIPO Treaties on the international registration of 
Trademarks and Designs (Madrid Protocol and the Hague Agreement) and 
the two new Treaties which were adopted on the protection of authors 
("WCT") and on the protection of performers and phonogram producers 

These two copyright Treaties significantly update the international 
protection for intellectual property and improve the means to fight 
piracy world-wide. At the same time they provide for the appropriate 
international response to the challenges facing intellectual property 
in the digital age.  

The Commission's proposal for the Directive on Copyright and Related 
Rights in the Information Society implements the main obligations in 
substance of these Treaties at European Community level.  

In parallel with this implementation in substance the Commission 
proposes a Council decision on the ratification of the WIPO Copyright 
Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT) 
on behalf of the Community.  

The need for protection of industrial property rights for innovation 
and employment and its impact on competition is crucial. My short 
presentation of what the Commission has already achieved and of the 
on-going activities clearly shows the importance the Commission 
attaches to the protection of Intellectual Property Rights within the 
EU and at a global level. I am convinced that the importance of 
intellectual property rights will continue to grow in the coming 
years, thereby continuing the trend which was set at the end of the 
"nineties". With the expertise and commitment available in the key 
organisations in this field - WTO, WIPO, OHIM and EPO - I am 
convinced that together we shall be able to meet the challenges 

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