Bloomberg News

Europe Must Be Bold on Intellectual Property, Report Says

September 10, 2012

Europe needs to make bolder efforts to overhaul its system for patent, copyright and trademark enforcement if it wants to build its digital economy, according to a report.

“Europe’s digital economy desperately needs better conditions in which to grow,” 10 specialists in intellectual- property law and the Internet said in a report on how to make Europe’s IP system cheaper and easier to use given to the European Commission this week.

As part of a 2011 strategy to boost the European technology industry’s competitiveness by overhauling its IP system, the EU’s executive agency in July proposed changes to ease licensing rules that have prevented Internet music stores, including Apple Inc. (AAPL:US)’s iTunes, from selling digital music across the 27-nation bloc.

“There is now a stirring for copyright reform in Europe that can only grow, as a generational shift continues towards those born digital,” Ian Hargreaves, author of a 2011 independent report on IP reform for the U.K. government, said in the foreword to the publication that was handed over to the EU regulator yesterday.

A campaign to convince the European Parliament to reject the global anti-piracy treaty, known as ACTA, “is indicative of this mood,” said Hargreaves. ACTA was intended to set global rules for cracking down on the pirating of copyrighted materials, including illegal file sharing on the Internet.

With Google Inc. (GOOG:US), Facebook Inc. (FB:US) and Apple emerging as “pioneers in Internet research, content curation, device manufacture and user-generated content,” Europe “has struggled with the consequent pace and disruption,” Hargreaves said.

Growing political interest in IP and the benefits the Internet provides should be seized as opportunities to come forward with “bolder and timely proposals for change,” Hargreaves said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephanie Bodoni in Luxembourg at sbodoni@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net


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