Europe needs strong intellectual property rights in order to protect its innovations and remain competitive in the global economy. The Commission's efforts to improve the intellectual property rights system focus on the efficiency of the protection provided, e.g., in the field of rights acquisition and enforcement and the fight against counterfeiting.
The policy context: Innovation Union commitment
The Innovation Union Communication outlining a medium term strategy for innovation in Europe includes an action aiming at improving the economic exploitation of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). Action 22 is formulated as follows:
"By the end of 2011, working closely with Member States and stakeholders, the Commission will make proposals to develop a European knowledge market for patents and licensing. This should build on Member States experience in trading platforms that match supply and demand, marketplaces to enable financial investments in intangible assets, and other ideas for breathing new life into neglected intellectual property, such as patent pools and innovation brokering".
In the Conclusions of its meeting on 4th February 2011 , the European Council invited the Commission to "explore options for setting up an intellectual property rights valorisation instrument at the European level, in particular to ease SMEs' access to the knowledge market, and to report back to the Council by the end of 2011".
NEW! Commission staff working document: Towards enhanced patent valorisation for growth and jobs
European Commission services have produced a Staff Working Document [203 KB] to serve as a basis for future discussions with other EU Institutions and beyond on the need to enhance patent valorisation. The Staff Working Document presents and analyses the major obstacles European companies, mainly SMEs, have to face in valorising existing patents, especially ‘dormant patents’. While describing the current European initiatives aimed at addressing issues in this area, it also outlines short- to medium- and long-term options for making better use of "dormant patents".
The Commission currently explores the possibility of improving the economic exploitation or valorisation of patents.
IPR valorisation, in this context, means exploitation of intellectual property rights (IPR) through selling, licensing and other methods, and its transformation into goods and services.
The underlying policy assumption is that unused patents fail to unlock the innovation potential inherent to the technologies they are meant to protect.
In order to gather the necessary evidence about the current state of play and about possible EU policy responses to improve patent valorisation in the EU, the Commission decided to:
- Commission a study to gather evidence on the challenges and opportunities of creating market mechanisms at EU level for the trading of patents and licenses.
The views expressed in this report are exclusively those of the contractors.
- Ask an expert group to assess the opportunity and feasibility of other (non-exclusive) options, in particular:
- An EU IPR exchange platform, i.e., a website facilitating the contact between the owners of IP rights and potential buyers or licensees;
- An EU patent fund, i.e., a fund acquiring patents, organising them into technological families and licensing them out.
The expert group also had the mandate to identify and look into additional possible options to improve IPR valorisation, e.g., the scaling up at European level of existing national initiatives (see the mandate and composition of the expert group).
The expert group issued a report in which it identified the rationale, the advantages and disadvantages of different options for the creation of instrument to foster the patent valorisation in Europe.
The views expressed in the expert group's report are exclusively those of the experts. The main findings of the study and of the expert group serve as a basis for the Commission to report to the Council and to formulate policy proposals in the field of patent valorisation.