LAWFUEL – The Law Newswire – From Out-Law.com – A controversial Directive which criminalises intellectual property violations in Europe was approved yesterday by the European Parliament but does not include its most controversial element, the criminalising of patent infringement.
Supporters of the Directive say it is aimed at organised crime, but opponents claim that it could criminalise legitimate activities. The proposed directive is also controversial because if passed it would become the first directive to impose criminal penalties across Europe.
The Second Intellectual Property Rights Directive (IPRED2) was passed by 374 votes to 278 yesterday after a reading at Monday’s plenary session. It now passes to the Council of Ministers.
Backers of the proposal said that it was designed to apply only to commercial-scale IP infringers, and that it was focused on industrial IP infringement, not the acts of individuals.
Much of the opposition to the Directive centred on the fact that it would criminalise patent infringement, which would instantly make a large number of European businesses criminal organisations.
“Until now, large-scale copyright or trademark infringement has been a crime here, while patent infringement has been a matter for civil litigation,” said Ross Anderson of the Foundation for Information Policy Research in its submission to the UK Government’s consultation on the proposal. “The new proposal will force the UK to make patent infringement a crime, and to criminalise incitement to infringement. The criminalisation of patent infringement will damage competition, resulting in higher prices for consumers.”