The importance of protection of Industrial Property rights (in particular the protection of inventions, industrial design and trade marks) for innovation, employment, competition and thus economic growth, cannot be underestimated.
The Commission focuses in particular on these “knowledge-based” aspects of the Single Market. Its work is partly concerned with traditional instruments regulating the market, such as harmonising the laws of the Member States relating to industrial property rights to avoid barriers to trade.
The aim is also to create unitary systems for the protection of such rights with Community-wide effect through the filing of one single application for protection (Community trade marks, designs and patents). The Commission is also increasingly concerned with ensuring that the Single Market functions properly in the Information Society and the fight against Counterfeiting.
A fundamental discussion on the principle of Community exhaustion of trade mark rights and its economic effects on innovation, employment and prices are also handled by the Commission, as well as the discussions on Enlargement.