The story so far:
* On 24 August Simon Gentry (Campaign for Creativity) posted a guest blog in which he emphasised the importance of IP rights in Europe today.
* Simon's blog drew vigorous criticism in comments posted by John Cahir and Alex Macfie.
* On 28 August IAM editor Joff Wild responded to John's criticisms, pressing strongly for Europe to adopt a far more pro-IP position if it were to stand a chance of competing realistically with the IP-positive regime of the United States.
* John Cahir delivered a fierce defence of his position in the face of Joff's attack.Today we post Joff's response in full.
Joff says as follows:
The IPKat really appreciates the time that Simon, John, Joff and Alex have spent debating this issue. Thanks, all of you.
Basically, I think we agree on what we have been debating. If we move forwards, however, what I believe needs to be addressed is how to change the situation in which Europe finds itself. It is too easy for the IP fraternity to blame the Commission and politicians in general for the mess that we have on our hands in areas such as the Community patent, the appointment of the president of the EPO and the technology transfer block exemption. When it comes down to it, I believe that IP owners here have to take the lion's share of the responsibility if Europe lags behind the US in creating a world class IP infrastructure. This is because they have failed to make the case for intellectual property. They have failed to demonstrate the link between IP and economic prosperity and they have failed to counter the arguments of those who have an anti-IP agenda. Politicians tend to listen to those who make the biggest noise. That's why Prime Ministers and Presidents discuss European farming and fishing issues, while junior trade ministers and patent and trade mark officers handle IP. Is it any coincidence that the big international IP issue for Europe at the moment seems to be, as you say, more protection for labels of origin?
Until European IP owners decide that they have to invest time and resource into pushing their case - something that their equivalents in the US have been doing for many years (Bayh Dole, for example, got through Congress in the face of huge, high-level opposition and thanks in large part to protracted, time intensive lobbying from university technology officers) - I think it is inconceivable that there will be any meaningful progress towards creating the IP infrastructure we so clearly lack on this side of the Atlantic. Politicians, the media and the public need education. They need a clear understanding of exactly what the issues are and what is at stake, and they need it all in language that is easy to understand. If this does not happen, I think that there is a major risk that exisiting rights will start to roll back as the stage will be open to those who have an anti-IP agenda to make hay. They are being successful already because they have managed to equate IP with big (American) multi-nationals, the type of business that instantly causes many in Europe to recoil with horror. Of course, we know that is ridiculous and that thousands of European SMEs depend on IP for their survival. But who is making that case? This is where I think Simon Gentry has a point and that is why, despite sometimes not necessarily being right in the details, what he is doing deserves publicity. If he got some more support and help, it might allow him to develop more coherent arguments that can stand up to real scrutiny.
Europe is crying out for its own AIPLA or IPO. It needs industry to get much more involved in organisations such as the LES. The current state of affairs suits many - private practice lawyers and attorneys, patent and trade mark office people and, dare I say it, academics - but it is not helping IP owners one little bit.