France to push design, GI, UPC, and safe harbours reform as president of the Council of the EU

On January 1, France took over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

As the current president, France is responsible for the functioning of the Council of the EU. Among its responsibilities, France will determine the Council’s agenda in discussing the Commission’s draft acts and set priorities in EU policy-making. In that connection, France has recently published its programme for the Presidency [available here in English], which includes several actions on intellectual property.

The Plan provides that during the French Presidency, the Council will start working on the Commission’s proposal on industrial designs. Originally planned for 2021, the Commission’s proposal to review the Design Directive and the Design Regulation is to be unveiled in the second quarter of 2022. Though the preliminary assessment showed that the basic foundations and principles of EU design law are still appropriate, certain shortcomings were identified that will be addressed in the proposed new legal framework. These include lack of coherence in procedural rules, the unresolved issue of spare parts, and the need to fashion design rules to accommodate the development of 3D technologies. Also, it is expected that the proposal will codify the interpretative rulings of the Court of Justice on design law issues, such as the ‘informed user’.

In parallel, France plans to focus on rolling-out a new system for the protection of geographical indications (GIs) [see also a recent post on the European Commission’s views on the matter]. The proposal will potentially include a draft Regulation for an EU-wide system for protecting GIs to non-agricultural products (e.g., handicrafts, such as Calais lace, or Laguiole knifes). With an equivalent national system already in place, France is one of the advocates for introducing an EU-wide right not only for foodstuffs and alcoholic beverages, but also non-agricultural geographical indications.

In the area of patents, France plans to support the establishment of the Unified Patent Court (UPC), which has been delayed, first by the Brexit, and then by the German Constitutional challenge. As GuestKat Frantzeska Papadopoulou reported last November, the UPC’s Preparatory Committee has set out a timeline for the UPC to commence its activities. According to this timeline, the UPC will become operational by mid-2022.

The French Presidency will also seek to prioritise reform regarding digitization, including the adoption of the Digital Services Act (DSA). The DSA was proposed by the Commission in December 2020. The DSA will modify the Electronic Commerce Directive, which currently regulates safe harbours exceptions for Internet intermediaries. The DSA will introduce a new legal framework, which will require major digital platforms, such as Youtube and Facebook, to apply content moderation to prevent IP infringement, hate speech, disinformation and other legally problematic content. In the meantime, the European Parliament has published its suggested amendments to the DSA.
France to push design, GI, UPC, and safe harbours reform as president of the Council of the EU France to push design, GI, UPC, and safe harbours reform as president of the Council of the EU Reviewed by Anastasiia Kyrylenko on Monday, January 10, 2022 Rating: 5

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