IP Europe – a coalition of R&D intensive organisations in Europe whose inventions are protected by Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) – has launched policy recommendations calling on European policymakers to prioritise IP protection at the highest political level within the EU and with its trading partners. Additionally, it asks the EU to help create a global level playing field for European IP intensive industries, including for Small and Medium-size Enterprises (SMEs).

Francisco Mingorance, Executive Secretary of IP Europe, said: “Only a strong commitment to IP protection will create sustainable growth opportunities for the innovative companies and SMEs. Without new industrial policies that prioritise IP protection in the global marketplace, IP-intensive industries and European innovation are under threat. This is key if we want Europe to become the world’s leading digital innovation ecosystem.”

IP Europe’s policy recommendations include:

Ensure IP protection becomes a political priority at the highest level:

  • Call on EU trading partners to maintain a reciprocal high level of IP protection consistent with their international commitments.
  • Promote reciprocity so that EU public procurement opportunities remain open to third country companies so long as these countries grant EU companies a similar privilege.
  • Make access to publicly funded R&D to third country companies conditional to European companies having equivalent access to that company’s domestic R&D funding programmes.

Give SMEs a fair chance to grow and compete globally:

  • Promote innovation incentives including R&D tax credits for Europe’s innovators, and the use of patents as collateral for bank loans so that European SMEs remain competitive with their counterparts in other regions.
  • Mobilise up to €150 million per year – €1 billion over 7 years – through the InvestEU budget and corresponding national funding mechanisms, to finance patent generation, advisory services on IP-led growth strategies, and attract more investors that can finance the growth of innovative European businesses.
  • Ensure that IPR enforcement in all jurisdictions remains affordable to SMEs so they can challenge patent infringers who profit from their inventions without a licence. These pro-SME measures should take inspiration from the SME-specific provisions already included in the Unified Patent Court system.

Ruben Bonet, CEO of Fractus, and IP Europe’s SME Chair, said: “A European industrial policy that promotes and protects Intellectual Property will create the virtuous circle of innovation and investment needed for Europe’s research and development-intensive SMEs to become the industrial champions of tomorrow.

“Europe’s SME community needs support to develop the IP-led growth strategies that will give them the security and access to finance to scale-up. Policies that support fair access to justice for SMEs will also help to overcome the threat posed by patent infringers who use patented innovations without paying for them, taking advantage of SMEs’ inability to pay sky high legal fees.”

As well as global leaders in research and development, like Europe’s cellular telecommunications industry, the EU is home to countless SMEs that share the ambition of scaling up and becoming global champions. Their ability to protect their IP – often the result of expensive and lengthy R&D work – as well as to grow and compete, would be greatly enhanced by a coherent pro-IP industrial strategy that supports a virtuous circle of innovation and investment.

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