Karel De Gucht, EU Commissioner for Trade, gave a speech on September 7 at the “Conference on Intellectual Property Captured – Which Course to Take against Counterfeiters?” The speech stressed the actions the EU is taking to strengthen IP and fight piracy, including “finalization of the EU patent,” proposals to “revise both the Community Trade Mark Regulation and the Trade Mark Directive,” and “a review of the 2004 IPR Enforcement Directive to improve IPR enforcement in the digital environment and to address problems caused by diverging implementation of some of its across the EU.”
De Gucht discussed a number of European efforts to increase intellectual property enforcement outside of the EU, particularly in emerging markets. These include bilateral and plurilateral trade agreements, efforts to work through the multilateral framework established by the TRIPS Council, and “more informal activities” such as “IP Dialogues” and “technical assistance.”
He noted that “the development dimension is particularly challenging,” but still advocates strong IP in developing countries:
while some developing countries do face important challenges in putting in place appropriate IP regimes and will need time and assistance I do not subscribe to the view that weak IP protection in developing countries is inherently in their interest, as these regimes should also enable them to leverage the value of their own intangible assets, such as local culture and local agricultural products (which can be protected as plant varieties or as geographical indications) and to avoid them becoming a target of infringers.
He concluded his talk by stressing the overall benefits of strong IPR, and asking the audience to do more to help move the debate over IP towards increasing IP:
I would like to call upon you to support our efforts to improve and implement IPR regimes in a more active manner. The European Commission defends your interests by promoting the development of effective IP systems, within the EU and also in third countries. However, we are increasingly faced with loud voices that come out against IP for many different reasons, often unfounded. We need you to help us to help you by enlarging the debate.