In a competitive, knowledge-based global economy, innovation is becoming the key factor in progress and growth. For the economy of greater Europe, harnessing innovation provides an opportunity to create new, highvalue-added products and preserve jobs. That being the case, it is essential to ensure that innovation is afforded the optimal level of protection in order to encourage research and development. Protecting innovation is essential if the European economy is to be competitive and also stable in the face of global challenges.
Improving innovation in greater Europe requires a robust European patent system. Despite the fact, however, that the London Agreement relaxing the translation requirements for European patents is due to enter into force on 1 May 2008, attempts to adopt an agreement introducing a system for the settlement of disputes concerning European patents and establishing a European Patent Court have not borne fruit.
At the same time, innovation, competitiveness and development are being undermined by counterfeiting which has assumed alarming proportions and is continuing to spread worldwide. It now extends to all areas of activity and affects virtually all consumer goods. This fake goods industry has numerous damaging implications for our society, whether economic (distorting competition, penalising employment, reducing tax revenues, supporting the black economy, etc.), legal (undermining the rule of law and public order) or security-related (jeopardising the well-being and health of consumers, financing organised crime, etc.), as underlined by the Parliamentary Assembly in its Recommendations 1673 (2004) on counterfeiting: problems and solutions and 1793 (2007) on the need for a Council of Europe convention on the suppression of counterfeiting and trafficking in counterfeit goods, both adopted at the instigation of our former colleague, Bernard Schreiner, on behalf of the Committee on Economic Affairs and Development.
The Assembly, therefore, should propose to all member states a strategy to encourage innovation, strengthen the European patent system, combat counterfeiting and, consequently, better protect consumers.