The European Commission has published the latest report on protection and enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in third countries. While developments have taken place since the publication of the previous report, concerns persist and a number of areas for improvement and action remain to be addressed. Intellectual property rights infringements worldwide cost European firms billions of euros in lost revenue and put thousands of jobs at risk. The report identifies three groups of countries on which the EU will focus its action.
“Protecting intellectual property such as trademarks, patents, or geographical indications is critical for the EU’s economic growth and our ability to encourage innovation and stay competitive globally,” declared Commissioner for Trade Phil Hogan. “As much as 82 per cent of all EU exports is generated by sectors which depend on intellectual property. Infringements of intellectual property, including forced technology transfer, intellectual property theft, counterfeiting and piracy threaten hundreds of thousands of jobs in the EU every year. The information gathered in the report will enable us to become even more efficient in protecting EU firms and workers against intellectual property infringements like counterfeiting or copyright piracy.”
The geographical and thematic priorities for the EU action to protect intellectual property rights are based on the level of economic harm to EU companies. The report will help to further focus and target efforts. The updated list of priority countries in the report remains split in three categories reflecting the scale and persistence of problems: 1) China; 2) India, Indonesia, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine; 3) Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Malaysia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Thailand.
China is at the origin of a dominant share of counterfeit and pirated goods arriving in the EU, in terms of both value and volume. More than 80 per cent of counterfeit and pirated goods seized by EU customs authorities come from China and Hong Kong.
A high level of intellectual property protection is a standard element of all EU trade agreements. The Commission also engages in dialogues, working groups and technical programmes with key countries and regions, such as China, Latin America, Southeast Asia or Africa. Specific actions in the past two years included:
The Commission is also an active contributor to intellectual property rights protection and enforcement at multilateral levels such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
According to the EC, efficient, well-designed and balanced Intellectual Property (IP) systems are key in promoting investments, innovation, growth and the global business activities of its companies. In this context, the Commission is actively involved in strengthening the protection and enforcement IP rights, including through its trade agenda, in third countries.
Industries that use intellectual property intensively accounted for some 84 million European jobs and 45 per cent of the total EU GDP in the period 2014-2016. Eighty-two per cent of EU exports were generated by the industries intensively using intellectual property. In these sectors, the EU has a trade surplus of around €182 billion. Also, an estimated €121 billion or 6.8 per cent of all imports into the EU, are counterfeit or pirated.