EDRI-member FIPR (the Foundation for Information Policy Research) has published a strong analysis of the proposed new EU intellectual property enforcement directive. According to FIPR, the proposed new directive is pushed by the UK Presidency, but will undermine basic freedoms. It will force all EU member states to criminalise incitement to infringe patents or copyrights. The directive is promoted by big drug companies and the music industry.
FIPR writes: “If passed, the police will have more powers against copyright infringers than they have against terrorists. At present, the EU cannot freeze assets if a suspected terrorist financier is a European citizen. Yet the Government wants to empower IP lawyers to seize the assets of EU citizens accused of aiding and abetting infringement — such as the parents of children who might have downloaded music files.”
FIPR also points to a danger for the innovation climate in Europe, especially because of the different treatment of patent infringements in the US and the EU. If a technology entrepreneur unknowingly infringes on a patent, for example because it has not been acknowledged yet, in the future he will be treated as a criminal in Europe. In the US on the other hand, it will remain a civil matter, allowing the entrepreneur the time to develop the business and fight the case in court.
FIPR analysis of the IPR enforcement directive (04.10.2005)
EDRI-gram 3.14, New Commission directive proposal on IPR (14.07.2005)