Speaking today at the Business for New Europe lunch, Michel Barnier (the Member of the European Commission responsible for Internal Market and Services, shown here in a photo that calls out for a really wicked caption) had this to say about intellectual property:
"Europe: an attractive place to do businessYou can read his speech in full here. Pinch of salt here.
I don’t want Europe to be a sub-contractor to other great powers. Europe must be at the top table. Leading, not lagging behind. Shaping the global economy. Not being shaped by it. With the best standards and business conditions in the world [And the best verbless sentences. No doubt. Fewer words. Less ink].
But we need to make it easier to do business in the EU – for our companies, and SMEs in particular. We need to keep attracting foreign investment [What's wrong with our own European investment, wonders the IPKat. I think he's talking about money from Switzerland, answers Merpel, that's "foreign" if you're in the EU].
That's why I will, in the first instance, focus my energies on full implementation of the Services Directive. This is a piece of legislation that opens up new possibilities for business across Europe. It means less red tape, it means more trade [ ... except for manufacturers of red tape, if that hasn't already been outsourced].
This is crucial to the UK, where services make up a substantial part of GDP. Across Europe, but especially here, Europe's future growth potential lies in services . We cannot afford to waste it. And there are new challenges: we have a long way to go to make it safe, reliable and easy to buy and sell online.
Innovation is at the heart of growth. But we need to value it more [But we do value it -- that's why people are prepared to pay so much to obtain and defend their patents]. And that's not easy when it still costs ten times more to patent your invention here than it does in the US [Ah, but look at the quality product you get. If, say, a slab of Toblerone costs ten times more than a bar of Hershey's, you don't blame the system].
How can we be competitive when that's the case? [Isn't this nonsense? It's as cheap for European businesses to get US patents as it is for US firms to get US patents, and it's as costly for US enterprises to get EU patents as it is for European ones to get them. So where's the competitiveness problem?]
I can tell you frankly, I really hope I'll be the last Commissioner who tries to finalise a deal on the European patent [There are many people who hope you are the last who tries, but not for the reason you imagine ...].
That's only part of the problem. We also need to get the framework right for intellectual property rights and public procurement [What do innovative pharma companies feel about public procurement, which appears to favour the prudent course of buying generic products where possible?].
Do you know that public procurement represents 17% of EU GDP? We need to make it easier for small businesses to tap into that market on a national or cross-border basis. A truly competitive European public procurement market is even more important [hmm. If it's much more competitive, the chances of getting your hands on that lovely public money diminish rapidly -- and don't forget the cost of applying for it] given the huge increases in public sector deficits due to the crisis".