Saturday

21st Oct 2017

Opinion

The intellectual property challenge

Europe is the original. Most of the fundamental inventions have shaped and influenced our modern societies were made in Europe. Democracy, modern law, social welfare and more practical things such as cars, the internet, telecommunications, nuclear power, planes, fax-machine and MP3 were all born in Europe.

European countries are still in the lead today when it comes to the number of inventions found and their patenting.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Yet Europe's leadership is under threat. Most European states have already launched sweeping reforms of their education systems to close the gap with the world's elites. But while this key element of Europe's originality seems to be on the right track, two major threats are still lingering over the inventive process in Europe.

If we look at the major inventions, we have to acknowledge that money made with these inventions was or is made mostly or to a large extent outside of Europe.

Cars were invented by the Germans Daimler and Benz but the American firm Ford was the first to gain a big commercial success with his "Model T", the first best selling car.

'

Today Europe's automotive industry is still a backbone of our economies but other world regions like Japan or the USA have more or less reached our standards. The fax or MP3 are some more European inventions exploited mostly outside the EU. And an exhaustive list would be much longer. Why?

Inventive, not innovative

Europe suffers from a structural problem: it is an inventive but not an innovative region.

Europe has thousand ideas but not enough people taking the risk and trying to bring them to the market. Here European politics have to head for a change.

The EU can help with the creation of the structures needed to bring scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs together or by supporting scientists or inventors to head for the market on their own.

The culture of risk capital has to be renewed. After the burst of the "new economy" bubble, investors have become reluctant to the idea of providing risk capital for ideas they do not fully understand or where market chances are not evident at first sight.

But these very attributes might just be the exact prerequisites for major inventions. The new framework programme for competitiveness and innovation (CIP) which was adopted by the European Parliament on 1 June is a step in the right direction.

Promoting entrepreneurship, which should be an aim of the education system already, will be a major task for the member states.

Patents and copies

Another solution might be the funding of patenting. To have a technical invention protected under patent law in many EU countries, the US and Japan can easily cost up to 100,000 euros.

This is a major obstacle for young inventors who would like to become entrepreneurs.

Here institutions like the European Investment Fund (EIF) could help financing the patent and in return receive a share of the profit or a shareholding. If we want to keep Europe's economy going and our current welfare states, we have to be innovative, which means making money out of our inventions.

The second major problem occurs when it comes to robust protection of our "originals".

And with robust I mean not only protection on paper. A patent is the beginning, but it might not be sufficiently binding to deter "copy" countries like China.

Low fines and lukewarm enforcement of intellectual property endangers European manufacturer's success.

The process of reforming the systems abroad has already begun but will take maybe another two decades to be effective. Meanwhile the EU has to act at home.

Free trade was the major contributor to Europe's development and bans and protectionism are not the right answer. Keeping this in mind, origin marking might be a key and easy principle to prevent Europe to be flooded by exact copies.

Dumping

A simple and obligatory stamp "made in..." would help inform the customers and let them decide. Dumping cases must also be addressed more clearly in the future.

Although the European Commission is already very active in this field, anti-dumping measures are not very popular. While the accusations of "social-dumping" might just be genuine comparative cost advantage in a different perspective, VAT exemptions and energy for free are definitively unfair trade practices and not acceptable.

Finally one conclusion can be drawn: Europe has to change its climate for innovation if it wants to be an innovative region. Support for and protection of innovation form together with high education and research standards the pillars on which an innovative Europe can be built further.

The author is German liberal MEP (ALDE/DE), Member of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and rapporteur of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme. jorgo.chatzimarkakis@europarl.europa.eu

Ukraine language law does not harm minorities

Some European politicians keep spreading fictitious arguments on Ukraine's language law as being an impediment to minority rights, Ukraine's education minister says.

News in Brief

  1. Rajoy to trigger Article 155 on Saturday in Catalan crisis
  2. EU conducts unannounced inspection of German car firm
  3. Lithuania calls for new EU energy laws
  4. EU leaders aim for December for defence cooperation
  5. Juncker says hands tied on Russia pipeline
  6. Czechs set to elect billionaire Andrej Babis
  7. Italian regions hold referendums on more autonomy
  8. EU leaders refuse to mediate Catalonia conflict

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Jinping Proposes Stronger Global Security Governance at Interpol Assembly
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaEU Engagement Could Contribute to Lasting Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
  3. UNICEFViolence in Myanmar Driving 12,000 Rohingya Refugee Children Into Bangladesh Every Week
  4. European Jewish CongressBulgaria Applauded for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  5. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  6. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  8. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  9. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  10. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  11. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  12. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!

Latest News

  1. The mysterious German behind Orban's Russian deals
  2. Mogherini urged to do more on Russian propaganda
  3. Turkey funding cuts signal EU mood shift
  4. Posted workers top EU agenda This Week
  5. Leaders lobby to host EU agencies at summit's margins
  6. Legal tweak could extend EU control on Russia pipeline
  7. Ukraine language law does not harm minorities
  8. EU begins preparations for Brexit trade talks

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People
  2. EU2017EEEHealth: A Tool for More Equal Health
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism a Key Driver for Job Creation and Enhanced Competitiveness
  4. CECENon-Harmonised Homologation of Mobile Machinery Costs € 90 Million per Year
  5. ILGA-EuropeMass Detention of Azeri LGBTI People - the LGBTI Community Urgently Needs Your Support
  6. European Free AllianceCatalans Have Won the Right to Have an Independent State
  7. ECR GroupBrexit: Delaying the Start of Negotiations Is Not a Solution
  8. EU2017EEPM Ratas in Poland: "We Enjoy the Fruits of European Cooperation Thanks to Solidarity"
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina and UK Discuss Deepening of Global Comprehensive Strategic Partnership
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceEHLA Joins Commissioners Navracsics, Andriukaitis and Hogan at EU Week of Sport
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Representative Office Opens in Brussels to Foster Better Cooperation
  12. UNICEFSocial Protection in the Contexts of Fragility & Forced Displacement