The European Commission [official website] on Tuesday announced proposed reforms to modernize the EU's intellectual property rights laws and create more centralized regulation. The EC, the EU's executive arm, said that reforms are necessary [press release] to better protect against Internet piracy and to protect consumers from fake products. The EC said that counterfeiters are going beyond copying luxury goods but that there is also a problem with fake health and hygiene products, car parts and cosmetics. The EC's proposed changes include: creating a unitary-patent protection scheme across the EU, modernizing the trademark system to protect brands and easing access to copyrighted works. Michel Barnier, the EU internal markets commissioner, made a statement [text]:
Ensuring the right level of protection of intellectual property rights in the single market is essential for Europe's economy. Progress depends on new ideas and new knowledge. There will be no investment in innovation if rights are not protected. On the other hand, consumers and users need to have access to cultural content, for example online music, for new business models and cultural diversity to both thrive. Our aim today is to get the balance between these two objectives right for [intellectual property rights] across the board. To make Europe's framework for intellectual property an enabler for companies and citizens and fit for the online world and the global competition for ideas.There are inefficiencies with current EU intellectual property regulation such as music producers having to gain permission [Telegraph report] from each of the 27 EU nations before selling it across the EU.
Online piracy has assumed increasing importance in the eyes of legislators across Europe. In March 2010, a study conducted by the Marsouin Unit [official website, in French] at the University of Rennes [official website] found that in France some forms of online piracy are on the rise [JURIST report] in spite of the recently passed anti-piracy law [legislative materials, in French; JURIST news archive]. Some European countries, including the UK, have considered legislation [BBC report] that reflects the law enacted in France.