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14.06.2008 | French Forge Ahead on Intellectual Property Protection…Will the EU Follow Their Lead?
The French are only days away from taking the helm of the EU Presidency and they seem more than ready to make protection of intellectual property a banner issue. And why shouldn’t they? France (to the French at least) is the culture capital of the world. On top of that, according to Eurostat, the region Île de France itself boasts the highest proportion of science and technology employees in high tech sectors in the EU (54%). These jobs depend on companies being able to reap the rewards of the millions of euros spent on R&D and protect their ‘intellectual assets’. One of the key French initiatives is the new French ‘agreement for the development and protection of cultural works and programs on new networks’ — the so-called ‘3 strikes rule’. Not to get too down in the weeds, but the 3 strikes rule is a rather controversial voluntary agreement between the French internet service providers, the recording and film industry, and the French government to crack down on Internet piracy. It would allow for Internet service interruption if a consumer was caught using their Internet connection for illegal downloads or illegal file sharing. They would get 2 warnings and the 3rd time, lose their service—hence ‘3 strikes’. But, while gathering momentum in France, the 3 strikes rule was recently bashed heartily in the European Parliament.

In May, French Health Minister Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin, went head to head with the Brazilians charging that Brazil’s moves to break patents [one compulsory license and threats of more] is not simply a health policy but part of an industrial strategy to favor local firms. While this is an opinion held by many developed countries, give the French credit for saying it out loud.

Earlier this month, a French court in Reims, found eBay France complicit in the sale of counterfeit goods, namely two fake handbags bearing the Hermès trade mark. eBay was held jointly liable with the seller of the goods, for € 3,000 -worth of sales, and ordered to pay € 20,000 in damages. Look closely the next time you think your getting a good deal on eBay…it might just be too good of a deal.France (and French companies) aren’t the only ones in Europe which intellectual assets to protect. In fact, the Eurostat data mentioned above, shows that Stockholm (Sweden), Brabant Wallon province (Belgium), Inner London (UK) and Utrecht (Netherlands) had the largest proportions (around 28%) of people employed in all science and technology occupations in their regional workforces. So, despite waffling in the European Parliament, and competition among various European Commission directorates; will the EU make protecting intellectual property a Europe-wide banner issue? In the meantime, Vive la France!



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