On 11 November 2021, the EU Parliament adopted a resolution on the EU Commission’s “Intellectual Property Action Plan for Recovery and Resilience”, with a majority, and put forward a series of recommendations for forthcoming EU initiatives in the field of intellectual property (2021/2007(INI).
As was reported here, on 25 November 2020, the European Commission launched a comprehensive action plan aimed at optimising the EU’s innovative potential with regard to intangible assets, in particular intellectual property rights (COM(2020) 760 final).
The resolution now adopted by the EU Parliament on the above-mentioned action plan of the EU Commission emphasises that the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights are of great importance for the European economy and for the recovery and resilience of the EU, especially in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. It also stresses the particular importance of intellectual property rights for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and micro-enterprises.
- More specifically, the Commission, the European Patent Office and the EUIPO are urged to extend, to all types of IPR, the initiatives taken so far to simplify registration, reduce fees or provide targeted support to SMEs through, for example, IPvouchers, and to take further measures to support SMEs.
- It also recommends closer cooperation between Member States and therelevant institutions to combat counterfeiting and piracy with the support of new technologies such as artificial intelligence and block chain.
- The 25 participating Member States are called upon, firstly, to promptly ratify the Agreement on the Unitary Patent System, if they have not already done so, and secondly, to facilitate the rapid establishment of the planned Patent Arbitration and Mediation Centre.
- With regard to standard essential patents, theresolution praises the value of existing industry-led voluntary initiatives on SEP licensing, inter alia, for the Internet of Things. However, at the same time, it points out that SEP disputes are often brought before a court; Parliament therefore proposes, inter alia, that the Commission examine possible incentives for negotiation in order to avoid such litigation and the associated problems and costs. At the same time, the Commission is required to monitor developments in industry and case law and to provide more clarity on the various aspects of FRAND, for example by designating a competence centre and by increasing transparency as regards the databases of standards development organisations.
- With regard to supplementary protection certificates (SPC), Parliament stresses their great practical importance, but criticises the different handling procedures in the Member States. The Commission is therefore requested to issue guidelines for the Member States on how to standardise the handling of SPCs, including proposals for appropriate legislation. On the other hand, Member States are expected to support the introduction of a unitary SPC, as a logical extension of the unitary patent.
- The design protection system should be revised. The Commission is therefore invited, inter alia, to update the registration procedure so that new design forms can be protected, such as graphic user interfaces, typeface and symbols, as well as virtual and animated designs, and to further harmonise invalidity procedures in the Member States, in particular with regard to spare parts and repair clauses for complex products.
- Also included is the demand for clear criteria for the protection of AI-generated inventions.
The continually increasing awareness and recognition of the importance of effective protection of intellectual property rights by both the EU Commission and the EU Parliament is generally to be welcomed. The implementation of concrete measures through corresponding EU initiatives aimed at strengthening intellectual property rights is eagerly awaited.