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EU Intellectual Property Law and Policy

Catherine Seville

Intellectual property remains not just economically significant, but also of daily importance to most businesses and individuals. The digital age brings many opportunities, but also presents continuing challenges to IP law, and the EU’s programme of harmonisation unfolds in this context. Taking account of numerous changes, the second edition of this accessible book offers a fully updated account of the law as it affects all the major rights, free movement and competition matters, and enforcement. It sets the substantive law in its policy context, and discusses potential reforms to this major area of EU law.
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Catherine Seville

My aim in writing this book is to offer a compact and accessible account of EU intellectual property law and policy. It covers the substantive provisions and procedures which apply throughout the EU, making extensive reference to the case law – the sheer volume of which is utterly daunting for students attempting to explore the area on their own. The book is intended to be manageable in terms of length and ease of understanding. Basic material is rehearsed as appropriate, although it is not intended as an introductory book for those entirely unfamiliar with the subjects of intellectual property or EU law. I hope the book will be used as a work of reference, as well as for wider study, so sections stand on their own, with cross-references offered where these will be helpful. Intellectual property is not isolated from other aspects of EU law and policy; it is regarded as a crucial contributor to economic growth and competitiveness, especially in fields of technology. Aspects of the free movement of goods and services, competition law, customs measures, and anti-counterfeiting efforts are all engaged. This work takes a broad view of these interactions, and their impact on law and policy.

It is also essential to set EU intellectual property law in the wider international context necessary for understanding it, and its application to intellectual property law within the EU member states. The exploitation of intellectual property is increasingly global, bringing corresponding pressures for global harmonisation. Often the harmonisation of intellectual property law at the EU level is only partial, so the broader framework is extremely important. This is particularly true of patent law, where the success of the European Patent Convention and other international initiatives has – until recently – left EU law with only a minimal role. Similarly, the interaction of EU law and national laws may also be very significant. In discussions of this, the book focuses on the harmonised environment. Matters of general application to all member states are discussed, but individual substantive national laws are not. The book is intended to elucidate the framework within which the national intellectual property laws of member states operate. It is thus not tied to any particular national law, although reference is made to national cases where this helps to develop points of interest relevant to the situation within the EU.

Finally, the book also seeks to highlight policy issues and arguments of relevance to the EU, both within the Union, and in its relations with the rest of the world. There is a huge volume of policy material, which may be tricky for the non-specialist to locate and digest; detailed references are given to these sources. There has necessarily been a process of selection, with the focus on offering understanding of the major issues, rather than an exhaustive account of every detail. But the aim has been always to offer guidance and further reading for those wishing to undertake research on particular matters.

Catherine Seville

Newnham College

December 2015