December 14, 2006

EP Civil Liberties committee criminalises business conflicts

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Brussels, 14 December 2006 — At the Monday’s 11 December late vote on the “IPR Enforcement Directive” (IPRED2, 2005/0127 (COD)), the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs committee (LIBE) failed to exclude common business conflicts from the directive. And while the committee did remove patents from the scope, it left in infringements on substantially unexamined design rights and unexamined utility model rights. The end result was approved with a vote of 22 to 17.

The text as adopted by the Committee does not limit offences to 1:1 piracy and counterfeiting but includes all commercial scale infringements, and even disagreements over the extent of protection of intellectual property rights. It also leaves the scope open, which means that any other right, including patents, can afterwards still be easily added by the Commission.

Two weeks ago the EP Industry Committee (ITRE) limited the scope to wilful trademark infringement and copyright piracy. The FFII is concerned about LIBE’s proposal to expand the scope of the directive again. FFII analyst Ante Wessels: “Businesses can be prosecuted on extremely shaky grounds. By the time bogus ‘rights’ titles have been invalidated in court the harm will be done. Weak rights will gain a great threat potential.”

“Criminal law needs precise definitions of the offences and a precise scope. The ‘to be sure, let’s include everything’ approach the LIBE committee took is fundamentally wrong”, he adds.

Background Information

In the legislative procedure, the EP’s Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) is next to present its report and will probably vote by end-January. JURI members will vote on all amendments approved by the ITRE and LIBE Committees, but they have also tabled additional amendments themselves. The amendments they vote through will be automatically tabled for the plenary vote.

The EP’s plenary will finalise the text shortly thereafter, after which it’s the Council’s turn to handle the directive in its first reading.

Contact information

Ante Wessels
FFII analyst
+31-6-100 99 063
ante at ffii.org
(Dutch/English)

Jonas Maebe
FFII analyst
jmaebe at ffii.org
(Dutch/English)

Benjamin Henrion
FFII Brussels
+32-2-414 84 03
bhenrion at ffii.org
(French/English)

About the FFII

The FFII is a not-for-profit association registered in twenty European countries, dedicated to the development of information goods for the public benefit, based on copyright, free competition, open standards. More than 850 members, 3,500 companies and 100,000 supporters have entrusted the FFII to act as their voice in public policy questions concerning exclusion rights (intellectual property) in data processing.