A report prepared by ten leading European thinkers looking at the challenge of managing intellectual property in the 21st century has suggested that Europe needs to make bolder efforts to overhaul its system for patent, copyright and trademark enforcement if it wants to build its digital economy.
“Europe’s digital economy desperately needs better conditions in which to grow,” said Ian Hargreaves, professor of digital economy at Cardiff University. “There is now a stirring for copyright reform in Europe that can only grow, as a generational shift continues towards those born digital,” said Hargreaves in the foreword to the report – Intellectual property and innovation: A framework for 21st century growth and jobs – that was formally presented at the 2012 Intellectual Property and Innovation Summit.
Echoing earlier comments made by Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda, at the Summit, Hargreaves noted the emergence of Google, Facebook and Apple from Silicon Valley as “globebestriding pioneers in Internet search, content curation, device manufacture and user-generated content”. By contrast, “Europe, with historic strength in creative content, has struggled with the consequent pace and disruption, partly I believe because of the too ready resort to the traditional tool of protection by copyright.”
Hargreaves expressed the hope that heightened political interest in IP, and concern about extracting maximum benefit from the Internet, would lead to a more constructive and balanced IP debate, followed by bolder and timely proposals for change.