The European Commission’s Intellectual Property action plan will seek to promote the increased sharing of intellectual property-protected data, a draft of the strategy obtained by EURACTIV reveals.
The plan, set to be made public this Wednesday (25 November), lays out a series of ambitions in the EU’s intellectual property framework, including fostering the future sharing of protected data assets, such as trade secrets or databases.
“Between 2018 and 2025, the value of the EU data economy will almost triple, in 2025 reaching EUR 829 billion and representing 5.8% of EU GDP,” the text states, highlighting the EU executive’s February data strategy, which promoted the increased sharing of industrial data on the bloc.
“Given that some data can be protected by IP rights or as trade secrets, the Commission is currently evaluating the IP framework to ensure a balance between the need to foster data sharing (e.g. to facilitate access and use of data by SMEs, to facilitate repairs) and the need to be able to safeguard legitimate interests.”
In this vein, the Commission plans a ‘clarification’ on the provisions laid out in the EU’s Trade Secrets Directive, particularly the scope of which type of data or datasets are able to qualify as ‘trade secrets’ and therefore protected as a form of intellectual property.
Moreover, the EU’s Database Directive, which provides protection for databases under the understanding that such forms of content constitute an author’s original creation, will be potentially revised as a means to increase future access and use of such material.
“Following up on the European Strategy for Data, the Commission will therefore review the directive, notably to facilitate the sharing of and trading in machine-generated data and data generated in the context of rolling out the IoT,” the draft action plan states.
Digital Services Act to target new IP infringements
The Commission’s text also gestures towards new forms of IP infringements that have arisen on the internet, including the cyber theft of trade secrets and forms of illegal streaming.
In terms of liability, the action plan states that the EU’s upcoming Digital Services Act, to be presented on December 9, will “remove disincentives for their voluntary actions to address illegal content, goods or services they intermediate.”
Meanwhile, following a high-profile standoff between the automotive industry and telecommunications firms over recent years, the Commission is seeking to mediate the continuing dispute between both parties.
Last year, four automotive firms – Daimler, Bury technologies, Continental, and Valeo – all issued complaints against telecommunications outfit Nokia, after the firm’s refusal to issue Standard Essential Patents (SEPs) for vital wireless components inside vehicles.
SEPs are forms of protection for technologies that are essential to a particular standard in the operation of that technology, such as WiFi or Bluetooth functionalities in a device.
The automotive industry believes that Nokia’s refusal to grant such patents could hinder their ability to offer new products and services related to next-generation connected cars.
For their part, the Commission appears to err on the side of the carmakers in the debate, if the Intellectual Property action plan is anything to go by, staying that it will “will engage with the automotive sector, where the needs are the most acute, to explore the possibility to come to effective licensing solutions.”
IP in the age of COVID-19
More broadly, the leaked text also highlights how the current coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the bloc’s dependence on ‘critical innovations and technologies, particularly in the health sector.’
“The COVID-19 crisis illustrated our dependence on critical innovations and technologies, particularly in the health sector. The EU has too limited tools to make such innovations and technologies available,” the document notes, highlighting how the executive plans to introduce better to share ‘critical IP’ in times of crisis.
“Access to existing technologies that are critical, such as IP related to existing medicines or protective gear, for instance, should be granted when this is needed to secure supplies and cope with shortages,” the document notes.
The final version of the Commission’s action plan on intellectual property is set to be adopted by the college later this week, ahead of its publication on Wednesday (25 November).