In our increasingly knowledge-based economies, the protection of intellectual property is important for promoting innovation and creativity, developing employment, and improving competitiveness. The European Commission works to harmonise laws relating to industrial property rights in EU countries to avoid barriers to trade and to create efficient EU-wide systems for the protection of such rights. It fights against piracy and counterfeiting and aims to help businesses, especially small businesses, access and use intellectual property rights more effectively.
Intellectual property rights (IPR) protect a firm's intangible assets, allowing enterprises to profit from their creative and broadly innovative activities. Intangible assets account for more than half the value of companies and their importance is growing. In a world where EU companies compete more on innovation, creativity and quality than on price, intellectual property is a powerful tool for EU enterprises to become more competitive. The Commission has designed a legal framework and intellectual property system that offer incentives for EU companies to invest in the provision of goods and services with high standards of quality, innovation, design and creativity.
Under the EU’s flagship initiative, Innovation Union, the Commission undertakes to create an innovation-friendly environment. Within this framework, it adopted a comprehensive IPR strategy in a 2011 Communication to ensure that the Single Market for intellectual property functions smoothly. In a quickly changing technological environment, the strategy seeks to revamp the legal framework in which intellectual property rights operate. The new rules aim to strike a balance between promoting creation and innovation, in part by ensuring reward and investment for creators, and promoting the widest possible access to goods and services protected by IPR.
The Commission aims to empower businesses to access and use intellectual property rights more effectively. It: