More than a third (35%) of European jobs rely on intellectual property rights (IPR) such as patents, trademarks and design rights according to a new pan-European study, which the EU executive will use to boost policymaking.
According to the analysis – produced jointly by the Munich-based European Patent Office and the Office for the Harmonization of the Internal Market based in Alicante, Spain – 39% of all European economic activity, worth €4.7 trillion, arises annually from IPR.
The study, called “IPR intensive industries: contribution to economic performance and employment in Europe” defined such business where IPR formed an intrinsic part of the industry’s activity.
Patents, trademarks, designs, copyrights and geographical indications were all included, with the report concluding that about half of all EU industries are IP-intensive. Leading industries included engineering, real estate, financial and insurance activities, manufacture of motor vehicles, retail, computers and pharmaceuticals.
Findings to be used for industrial strategy
Presenting the findings, Internal Markets Commissioner Michel Barnier said that the report “will help us to further underpin our evidence-based policy making”. He cited the Commission’s ongoing development of a new industrial strategy and its attempts to develop tools to protect trade secrets as concrete examples.
The research follows on the heels of a similar study carried out in 2012 by the US Patent and Trademark Office together with the Economics and Statistics Administration, which resulted in comparable findings for the US economy.
Barnier pointed out that the share of employment and GDP in IPR-intensive industries is even higher in Europe than in the US, according to both reports.
The European report's findings are likely to be used in the negotiations between the US and EU over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), where IPR will form a major sector of the talks. The European report found that that IP-intensive industries account for approximately 90% of the EU's trade with the rest of the world.
Report comparable to US study
Although both blocs have strong IPR traditions, they vary in the application. For example, US patents are subject to many more litigious challenges than are their European counterparts'.
“I believe that the US and the EU have very strong IP protection and TTIP creates an opportunity for us to work together to ensure that those types of standards are respected around the world as well,” US Trade Representative Michael Fromann told journalists in Brussels yesterday.
The study is also likely to be used as a tool to enable the European Patent Office – which will start to issue unified patents next year – as a means of monitoring the new patent’s competitiveness in world markets.
In February this year, the EU formally signed-off on a new unitary patent for 24 participating member states.
The extant system had made patent registrations up to 60 times more expensive in Europe than in China – since patents had to be registered separately in individual EU countries – and will now be binned in favour of a one-size-fits-all pan-European process.