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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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Chapter 6: Intellectual property, free movement and competition

Catherine Seville


Intellectual property poses a particular challenge for the European Union. The protection of intellectual property is seen as an essential element in the success of the single market: ‘In our increasingly knowledge-based economies, the protection of intellectual property is important for promoting innovation and creativity, developing employment, and improving competitiveness.’1 On the other hand, to create a genuine single market in Europe, barriers to trade and anti-competitive practices must be eliminated or reduced as much as possible, while maintaining an environment favourable to innovation and investment. The difficulty is finding the correct balance between competing demands.

This chapter will cover the history of the various areas in some detail. EU law in this important area has developed very significantly, from comparatively simple beginnings. It is helpful to see how the governing principles evolved, in the context of a wide variety of factual situations which were often new and challenging to EU law.

The outline facts of three illustrative trade mark cases reveal some of the recurring problems which the Community faces in reconciling competing priorities.2 The legal aspects of all three cases will be discussed in more detail in what follows.

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