18 December 2020
Brands update - December 2020 – 1 of 3 Insights
Following the publication of the New EU Industrial Strategy in March 2020, the European Commission has published a new Action Plan on Intellectual Property (IP), alongside proposals for modernising the EU design system and expanding the geographical indication (GI) system.
These ambitious proposals promise a number of regulatory changes in the IP sphere in the coming years. We discuss the key elements of the proposals below.
On 25 November 2020 the European Commission published its Action Plan on IP. The document sets out extensive proposals on improving the protection of IP, boosting the uptake of IP by SMEs, facilitating the sharing of IP, improving IP enforcement and promoting a global level playing field in the EU. It also champions the need to address the technological revolution.
Among the items being considered in the plan are:
The elements of the Plan will be fleshed out in the coming year. Already, the Commission has started to indicate what this might mean for designs and GIs and has published a first draft of the DSA. It bodes for a busy period for those in the IP sphere.
The EU has completed its evaluation of the EU designs system. While it concludes that the system is broadly fit for purpose, it has identified a number of areas in need of modernisation. A proposal to modernise the system will follow. Key findings of the evaluation are:
A GI is a sign used to indicate that a product has a specific geographical origin and possesses a certain reputation or qualities due to that place of origin. Protected GIs can only be used by those from the area which manufacture the product in question in a prescribed way. Champagne is a well-known example of a GI.
For several years, the EU has been considering extending GI protection to non-agricultural products. Currently such protection is only provided for agricultural products and foodstuffs, wines, and spirit drinks. In line with this, the Commission has recently published a proposal for a regulation on GIs for non-agricultural products. The proposal is open for consultation for four weeks – until 28 December 2020 – with adoption of a new regulation planned for the fourth quarter of 2021.
The main policy options under consideration at this stage are:
The stated aims of the new regulation are many-fold including to improve competitiveness and curb unfair competition, retain unique skills, preserve economic activities and skilled jobs in often less-developed rural regions, and provide reliable information on authentic geographically linked products for consumers.
Please get in touch with your usual Taylor Wessing contact if you would like to comment on the proposal. We will be writing on all the above initiatives in more detail in the new year.
by multiple authors