Intellectual property rights have been at the centre of the European agenda for decades and continue to be subject to intense legislative and judicial scrutiny. Recent long-waited achievements include the unitary patent and the unified patent court, the completion of the EU trade mark reform package, and the approval of the highly contentious directive on copyright in the digital single market. These developments are usually accompanied by great expectations as to their effects on the European information society and economy. Indeed, intellectual property rights seem to be perceived as the key legislative instrument to stimulate innovation and creativity, to foster fairness and equity in the markets, to promote consumer welfare and wellbeing, and to fuel economic growth in all the many areas of the internal market. But are these expectations justified in today’s information- and knowledge-based economy? Or do we invest intellectual property rights with goals that they do not and cannot accomplish? – namely, goals that may be better achieved by different legal instruments, or by means other than law, or even by leaving market forces, business practices and wider cultural practices to operate without interference? Is it possible that today’s information society and economy present problems to which intellectual property rights are neither the better nor the only solution?
The Symposium addresses these questions from the angles of the many interests and rights addressed by European intellectual property.