The Innovation Policy of the European Union

The Innovation Policy of the European Union

From Government to Governance

Susana Borrás

Adopting a strong interdisciplinary approach, the author skilfully examines the politics and economics of the new innovation policy of the EU, addressing such diverse topics as research and knowledge production, the changing regime of intellectual property rights, building the information society, standard setting, risk assessment and the social sustainability of innovation. The conclusions pose many theoretical questions which will require further research, most notably the extent to which EU innovation policy underpins a European system of innovation.

Chapter 3: The Changing Regime of Intellectual Property Rights

Susana Borrás

Subjects: innovation and technology, innovation policy, politics and public policy, european politics and policy


Money’s only paper only ink We’ll destroy ourselves if we can’t agree How the world turns Who made the sun Who owns the sea. (Tracy Chapman, ‘Paper and ink’, 2000) INTRODUCTION The regulation of patents, and more generally of intellectual property rights, is a ubiquitous key element of public action towards fostering innovation. The possibility for an innovator to acquire special rights in the form of a patent, a copyright, a trademark or an industrial design, and the way in which these rights are used, defined, enforced and protected have several functions in an innovation system. One of the most important is the creation of incentives to innovate, as the innovator can exclusively enjoy, for a period of time, the fruits of his or her knowledge production. Yet, above all, these rights have a very direct effect on everyday practices, and for many innovative firms the management of their intellectual property rights portfolio is almost invariably a core business issue. Several studies show that in the last couple of decades, the intellectual capital component of firm assets has been soaring both in absolute as well as in relative terms, and that we live in a ‘pro-patent era’ (Kortum and Lerner 1999; Arundel 2001a) or in an ‘intellectual capitalism’ (Granstrand 1999). The EU’s political awareness of the issues of competitiveness and growth in the 1990s has given a boost to the idea of common European regulations in the area of intellectual property rights (IPRs). It is as if the attention paid...

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