What's new, pussycat?

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 business

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".
You can read his speech in full here. Pinch of salt here.
Michel the pussycat here
What's new, pussycat? What's new, pussycat? Reviewed by Jeremy on Tuesday, March 02, 2010 Rating: 5


  1. Acting for a small enterprise, I am in the thick (literally) of a contract (which runs to about 300 pages) forming part of a competitive dialogue process - and I would love Michel Barnier to do something to simplify public procurement. Meanwhile, pigs appear to be flying past my window.

  2. Services Directive - boo. I have to put more rubbish into my engagement letter, making it even more disengaged from the client.

    A good step would be to abolish all public procurement. Whenever I have tendered to a public procurement professional it has all been about red tape - please provide a copy of your anti-discrimination policy, please tell me what steps you are taking to respect the environment etc (since you ask, we put our tea bags on a compost pile - isn't that useful to know for the purpose of efficient buying of legal services...)

  3. Ok Jeremy, your disrespect of Hershey aside (suspect you have never had my grandmother's cookies with Hershey's kisses on them, hence your lack of respect) Toblerone is not European in the EU sense, as it is of Swiss origin, which you yourself refer rightly to as "foreign" relative to the EU but secondly, Toblerone is owned by the Swiss division of Kraft, that is to say it is essentially like Hershey- gasp-
    American! not surprising as it seems all products are controlled by a select few these days Nestlé, Danone, Unilever, Kraft...

    Additionally, as someone who struggles with grammar daily, I really enjoyed your first grammar related comment.

  4. Jennifer, you are correct to state that Toblerone is owned by Kraft -- but it's made exclusively in the very European jurisdiction of Switzerland, in Bern-Brünnen ...

  5. Barnier is sustaining a push for the European Patent here, isn't he?
    Or better said community patent, for the sake of Art.84 and avoiding the swiss-type objections of the kat, who appears here to switch from interpreting Europe as in European Patent to Europe as in European Union.
    Maybe it is his well hidden past of being an examiner rising to the surface?
    Seriously, I thought the Ipkat was at the end of the day in favour of the Community patent, and would encourage Barnier on that one, but I see more snickering than support in the article.
    I guess it will not be because of the frustration of having to listen to people who are Eurocentralizator, not English-mothertongue speaking, slightly bureaucrat, and dare I say it, French: in short no reasonable people.
    So what will it be?

    A diverted French anonymous.

  6. To anonymous 10:42am:

    "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 ...]." -- the Kat wasn't snickering, he was stating a fact: there are plenty of people who wish the European patent would simply go away. The IPKat is in favour of a European patent, so long as it's the right European patent.

  7. Ahh - European, Eurozone, European Community, European Union, European Patent Convention - so many different jurisdictions can all be covered by the prefix "Euro-", depending on who's speaking...

    It's an "EU Patent" now, not a "Community Patent". The Community became the Union with the passing into force of the Lisbon Treaty. Now doubt once (if?) we finally achieve it, we'll give it some suitably silly name, and some ridiculously titled office will be created to administer it. (Come to think of it - has the CTM been renamed?)

    As for Switzerland - I guess that whether or not they fall into "European" jurisdiction depends on which area of law you're talking about. When it comes to making chocolate bars, I frankly neither know nor care. They never last long enough in my hands for it to make any difference...

  8. [There are many people who hope you are the last who tries, but not for the reason you imagine ...].


    It still bothers me a lot that various governments across Europe still do not properly understand that a centralised and unified pan-European patent - pardon, EU patent, Switzerland is not part of EU - benefits in particular small enterprises and sole inventors in doing international business. Those people have, by doing international business - already overwon the hurdle of foreign languages, so why translate patents in their language?

    It seems certain governments put more value to their prides and egos rather than to the citizens they are to serve.

    Alors bon courage à M. Barnier.


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