In 2020, when the current European Commission presented its Industrial Strategy, the Intellectual Property Action Plan was one of the key elements. Since then, there have also been several proposals on how to adapt legislation to better meet the needs of the knowledge economy.
The Patent Package, presented in late April, contains a number of proposals. However, it appears that European Commission lacks an overall strategy. Different proposals point in different directions, something that is also apparent when it comes to the various elements of the Patent Package.
On the one hand, the Commission stresses the importance of intellectual property rights. The first sentence of recommendation 23/499 states that: “Efficient intellectual assets management is key to accelerate the uptake of innovative solutions and to develop new technologies, products and services to address the most pressing societal challenges such as ensuring fair green and digital transitions in line with the objective of the New European Innovation Agenda”. This can be read alongside the description on why there is a proposal on compulsory licensing: “Intangible assets such as inventions, trade secrets and knowhow are the cornerstone of the EU economy and competitiveness”.
On the other hand, meanwhile, the Commission does its very best to undermine such protections through its various proposals. We have already seen how proposals for digital product passports and the Data Act undermine protection of business secrets. With the patent package in particular, the proposal on compulsory licensing can be used by the Commission as a tool for undermining the patent system in its entirety, as it provides it with a tool to “adopt an activation measure granting a compulsory license”.
What is really required are proposals that focus on the competitiveness of European companies, yet what we have seen in the field of patents over recent decades is that this competitiveness is being undermined in a range of ways. There is nothing in the Patent Package to address the reality that Europe lags behind when it comes to patent applications in an international context. In 1990, three European countries were in the top five in international patent applications; now Germany is the only European country in top five, and now there are three Asian countries there.
The Patent Package contains proposals that focusing on various aspects of patents; however, on the whole, the proposals risk further undermining the opportunities for European companies in their home market. Is that really where we want to go?The IP Policy of The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise