Study: 35% of EU jobs depend on intellectual property rights


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.

"I am convinced that intellectual property rights play a hugely important role in stimulating innovation and creativity, and I welcome the publication of this study. What this study shows us is that the use of intellectual property rights in the economy is ubiquitous: from high-tech industries to manufacturers of sports goods, games, toys and computer games, all are making intensive use of not just one, but often several types of IP rights,” said Internal Markets Commissioner Michel Barnier.

"This report shows that the benefits of patent and other IPRs is not just economic theory. For innovative companies intangible assets have become extremely important. Especially for SMEs, but also research centres and universities, patents often open the door to capital and business partners. In order to remain competitive in the global economy, Europe needs to encourage even further the development and use of new technology and innovations," according to Benoît Battistelli, President of the European Patent Office (EPO).

“This study is the result of a detailed collaboration between experts drawn from different agencies and countries, using a transparent and replicable methodology. It tackles the fundamental question of the extent to which IPR-related industries matter to jobs, GDP and trade in the EU. We now have a clear answer. They do matter, they matter a lot,” said António Campinos, President of the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM).

EU leaders forged a compromise on a common European patent at a summit in June 2012, ending a long-running dispute over the proposal that would make it easier and less costly to register products.

National leaders agreed to divide the functions of the European patent court between the three countries eager to host it – France, Germany and Britain.

2013: EU Commission continuing to examine ways of protecting of trade secrets

European Institutions

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