Intellectual property matters are considered essential by the European Commission to promote innovation and creativity, develop employment and improve competitiveness. A FICPI delegation visited three of the EC’s Directorate-Generals recently to cement relationships, put forward submissions and share member concerns. 

A team led by FICPI President, Julian Crump, visited IP-related units in three of the Directorate-Generals of the European Commission on 11 and 12 November 2019.

Julian was accompanied by Daniel Alge (President of EUCOF - FICPI’s EU members’ committee), Robert Watson (Vice-President of CET, Study & Work Group) and Eleni Kokkini (Chair of CET1, the Trade Mark group).

The team visited three of the Directorate-Generals (the departments) of the European Commission: DG GROW, DG TRADE, DG RESEARCH.

Each of these DGs have at least one unit concerned with intellectual property, although each has a very distinct character.

DG GROW (the DG for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, responsible for EU policy on the single market, industry, entrepreneurship and small business). This DG controls the EU’s internal IP Policy and thus works closely with the EUIPO (the office that examines and grants EU trade marks and Registered Community Designs).  

Our discussions with them focused around the progress being made by the European Commission on the review of European Design Law, which FICPI made a submission on.  

We also covered other ongoing issues, such as implementation of the EU Trade Mark Directive, the EU Directive on Trade Secrets and topics relating to Supplementary Protection Certificates.  Further to the discussions in FICPI’s previous visit, we again reminded them about our interest in IP litigation insurance.

DG TRADE (the DG responsible for EU policy on trade with countries beyond the EU’s borders). It has a clear focus on trade agreements.  

We were fortunate to meet the whole IP team headed by Peter Kovacs, and to hear updates on the various trade agreements and relationships that are in progress. A general point was the encouragement that the IP profession engages with governments over the IP chapters of trade agreements, so these chapters reflects the needs of the local IP system. 

We took the opportunity to raise awareness within the Commission on the thorny issues of patent eligibility in the US, and followed up with by sending them a copy of FICPI’s letter of July last year to Chairman Tillis and Ranking Member Coons of the US Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property which is working on a Draft Bill Text to Reform Section 101 of the US Patent Act. .

DG RESEARCH (the DG for Research and Innovation which is responsible for EU policy on research, science and innovation). This DG has two new units dealing with intellectual property, from different angles.  

Our meeting was wide-ranging, and included explaining the work of IP attorneys and the relationships we have with our clients and discussing access to justice with the likely implementation of the Unified Patent Court (UPC).

Each meeting had a distinct character, but those we met appeared to appreciate the practical, hands-on experience which FICPI can relay and encouraged FICPI to come forward with issues as they arise and not wait for our annual meeting.

FICPI’s view and involvement 

Such delegations are an important part of FICPI’s work and help to create and foster relationships with key bodies active in the field of IP, such as the European Commissionand Patent Offices. This affords FICPI the opportunity to put forward its members’ views on policies before they become enshrined in law or to bring a new perspective to discussions. 

FICPI members who are involved in committees and delegations freely give their time and gain the opportunity to meet key officials and participate in meetings outside their reach as individuals, broadening their own perspective of the world’s IP laws.

Next steps 

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