Europe's inventors to be protected - Conference in Denmark on European patent insurance

October 25, 2002

Copenhagen, 24 Oct 2002

Few thieves get away with stealing in broad daylight and then publicly reap the rewards from their ill-gotten gains. However, in cases of theft of good ideas, this grotesque scenario is by no means rare. Entrepreneurs and inventors, who need much time and much money to create a new product, can never feel secure, even though they have patent protection in all of the EU.

"The problem is that even though the inventor holds a patent that is supposed to protect him from blatant theft of the idea, it is in many cases extremely difficult and costly to prosecute the enterprise that violates the patent. This keeps many small and medium-sized enterprises from pursuing their case, and therefore they do not reap the full benefit of their investment in innovation," says Henrik Dahl Sørensen, Deputy Director General of the Danish Patent and Trademark Office.

In order to prevent such injustice, Denmark has taken the initiative to explore the possibilities for a European patent insurance scheme. The idea is that companies should be able to obtain insurance, so that they may be certain to have the funds for legal action in a foreign country if the need should arise. At a conference in Aalborg on 28 and 29 October, which will be opened by Minister for Economic and Business Affairs Bendt Bendtsen, this idea is to be discussed further, among other things on the basis of a survey carried out by the EU Commission and a concrete model drafted by a group of experts.

One of the prerequisites of the insurance scheme is that it should be implemented at European level. The individual EU Member States have not got a sufficient number of patents to make insurers interested in offering insurance cover, and if they were to do so, the insurance premiums would be exceedingly high. At European level, by contrast, such a scheme would be realistic, and its mere existence would have preventive effect on theft of intellectual property.

"As things are today, there are presumably a number of companies which consciously calculate that they can avoid prosecution for patent violations. A European patent insurance scheme would function like a burglar alarm. If the intellectual property thieves know that they will be prosecuted for infringing competitors' patents, they are more likely to resist the temptation," says Henrik Dahl Sørensen.

At the same time, he emphasises that it is also in the interest of the Community that Europe's enterprises can be certain that large investments in research and development of a product will not be wasted through other companies' copycat products. Europe needs entrepreneurs and innovation to ensure future growth. Therefore the name "Growth, Prosperity and Patents" is a good choice for the conference in Aalborg, at which the participants will also have the opportunity to discuss a number of other current issues relating to European intellectual property rights policy.

Danish Presidency Website http://www.eu2002.dk/main/

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