Promote a competitive global level playing field and international respect for Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

Background: risks

IP protection needs to be an integral part of any forward-looking EU industrial policy. Europe’s competitiveness and the success of its future digital infrastructures—including 5G and IoT—has to be underpinned by new and strengthened ways for European innovators to retain control over and gain value from their technology and IPR.

As digitalisation is a global mega-trend, policymakers have to consider the impact of every policy initiative on the competitiveness of Europe’s innovators alongside their overarching aim of completing the Digital Single Market (DSM). This will mean dealing with long-identified trade issues that include ensuring reciprocity of treatment for EU companies, forced tech transfers imposed in certain jurisdictions, and widespread IPR infringement in some markets.

The global digital economy is evolving into a landscape where “the winner takes all”. In digital technologies manufacturing is moving away from the EU, which is increasingly dependent upon its research and development expertise. The EU needs to take every opportunity to support and strengthen IPR as one of the few tools that European innovators, large and small, can leverage in commercial discussions with global digital players.

The EU needs to fund and support research and innovation across the Digital Single Market. As President Macron wrote in his March 2019 manifesto ‘For European renewal’, “Europe needs to look ahead to create jobs. This is why it needs not only to regulate the digital giants by putting in place European supervision of the major platforms (prompt penalties for unfair competition, transparent algorithms, etc.), but also to finance innovation by giving the new European Innovation Council a budget on a par with the US in order to spearhead new technological breakthroughs such as artificial intelligence.”[1]

What EU institutions need to do:

Drive international respect for IP; build a global level playing field; ensure reciprocity so that non-European companies do not have an unfair advantage.

  1. Make IP protection a priority at the highest political level

    Ensure IP protection in third countries is taken up as a political priority at the highest levels by EU policy-makers.
  2. Open up international public procurement markets

    EU public procurement opportunities should be open to third country companies so long as these countries grant EU companies a similar privilege. [2]
  3. Gain reciprocal access to public funds for R&D

    Access to publicl fundsfor R&D is must be reciprocal, to enable global fair competition: provision of EU public R&D funding to a non-EU company should be conditional to European companies having equivalent access to that company’s national funding programmes.
  4. Oppose ‘efficient infringement’ business models

    More actively oppose the ‘efficient infringement’ business model in which global companies deliberately infringe patents because defending litigation is cheaper than actually licensing protected tech, or because they know that SMEs cannot afford the prohibitive costs of enforcement.
  5. Support international dispute resolution

    Support efficient enforcement of IPRs in global licensing transactions through arbitration and other international dispute resolution mechanisms.
  6. Call for reciprocal international IP protection

    Call on EU trading partners to maintain a reciprocal high level of IP protection consistent with their international commitments and oppose foreign policies that seek to advantage national champions, such as rules on forced technology transfer.