IPR Enforcement: rapporteur ready for compromise

By EDRi · October 22, 2003

On 4 November there was a heated debate in the Judicial Affairs Committee
(JURI) of the European Parliament about the proposed new directive on the
Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights. According to Social Democrat
Willy Rothley from Germany “the EU Commission aggressively attempts to
exceed its authorities and assume competencies it does not hold.
Senselessly, it deals with lawmaking as though it were a patchwork quilt,
and thus actually destroys the law.”

Other MEPs from the four biggest political groups – Conservatives (PPE),
Social Democrats (PSE), Liberals (ELDR) and Greens alike – joined Mr.
Rothley in his criticism of the Commission which, according to most of
them, just hasn’t done its homework in the drafting of this Directive. In
particular they criticised the scope, which in the Draft includes all
kinds of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) infringements, ranging from
copyright to trademarks to patents, and the inclusion of criminal law
sanctions in a Co-Decision Directive. Members of the committee also
criticised the Directive for being much too prescriptive concerning
judicial procedures, which according to the subsidiarity principle should
be left as much as possible to the Member States.

The next day saw a closed-doors meeting that dealt with a set of
compromise Amendments that the Rapporteur, Janelly Fourtou, had tabled in
order to reduce the number of -by now- 226 Amendments. JURI members will
have to vote on the amendments on the evening of 17 November. While Mrs.
Fourtou had seemed pretty stubborn in the Legal Affairs Committee, where
she refused to join other Parliamentarians in their criticism of the
Commission, she now seemed much more prepared to make substantial
concessions. When even Arlene McCarthy, the PSE shadow rapporteur and
perhaps known to EDRI-gram readers as the rapporteur of the infamous
Software patents Directive, argued in favour of deleting Article 20, which
contains the criminal law provisions, Mrs. Fourtou declared she would not
insist on keeping that Article. Mrs. Fourtou also announced she will not
withdraw her amendment deleting the patent regime from the scope of the
Directive, as she had considered to do during the initial discussion of
the report, and that she would be ready to keep the Commissions limitation
of the scope to commercial infringements of IPR. Her main interest now
seems to be to accelerate the parliamentary procedure in order to pass the
Directive within the present Parliament term, even if it should go into
second reading.

Mrs. Fourtou’s Compromise Amendments

(Contribution by Andreas Dietl, EDRI EU affairs director)