Sunday, 15 June 2008

EU TFEU European intellectual property rights

In the best case the substance of the Treaty of Lisbon can form the initial basis for the new European Union established between most of the present member states. In the worst case, the ideas for and the history of treaty reform are not going to disappear, and anyway the current treaty provisions are laid out.

The Lisbon Treaty posts continue in the usual manner.



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Article 118 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) is found in the consolidated version of the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, published in the Official Journal of the European Union, OJ 9.5.2008 C 115/96:

Part Three Union policies and internal actions

Title VII Common rules on competition, taxation and approximation of laws

Chapter 3 Approximation of laws

Article 118 TFEU

In the context of the establishment and functioning of the internal market, the European Parliament and the Council, acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, shall establish measures for the creation of European intellectual property rights to provide uniform protection of intellectual property rights throughout the Union and for the setting up of centralised Union-wide authorisation, coordination and supervision arrangements.

The Council, acting in accordance with a special legislative procedure, shall by means of regulations establish language arrangements for the European intellectual property rights. The Council shall act unanimously after consulting the European Parliament.

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In Article 2, point 84 of the Treaty of Lisbon (ToL) the IGC 2007 inserted a new Article 97a on intellectual property rights into the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (ToL) (OJ 17.12.2007 C 306/70).

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The TFEU table of equivalences confirms that the new Article 97a TFEU (ToL) in the original Treaty of Lisbon was later renumbered Article 118 TFEU in the consolidated version (OJ 17.12.2007 C 306/211).

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Consequently, there is no corresponding Article in the current treaties.

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We have to look further back to see if the Article has antecedents.

First, we turn to the European Convention, the closest thing to a constituent assembly EU citizens have had. The Article in question is located in Part III ‘The policies and functioning of the Union’, Title III ‘Internal policies and action’, Chapter I ‘Internal market’, Section 7 ‘Approximation of legislation’.

Article III-68 of the draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe proposed a legal base for the introduction of European instruments to provide intellectual-property rights. See OJ 18.7.2003 C 169/39.

Article III-68 Draft Constitution

In establishing an internal market, measures for the introduction of European instruments to provide uniform intellectual-property rights protection throughout the Union and for the setting up of centralised Union-wide authorisation, coordination and supervision arrangements shall be established in European laws or framework laws.

A European law of the Council of Ministers shall establish language arrangements for the European instruments. The Council of Ministers shall act unanimously after consulting the European Parliament.

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The differences between the draft Constitution and the TFEU seem to concern choices of wording and treaty terminology only. The substance was already in place.

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In the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, ‘ratified’ by 18 member states, the provisions on approximation (harmonisation) were located in Part III ‘The policies and functioning of the Union’, Title III ‘Internal policies and action’, Chapter I ‘Internal market’, Section 7 ‘Common provisions’.

The IGC 2004 adopted the substance of the draft Constitution, while applying some touches to the words and terminology.

Article III-176 is found in OJ 16.12.2004 C 310/75:

Article III-176 Constitution

In the context of the establishment and functioning of the internal market, European laws or framework laws shall establish measures for the creation of European intellectual property rights to provide uniform intellectual property rights protection throughout the Union and for the setting up of centralised Union‑wide authorisation, coordination and supervision arrangements.

A European law of the Council shall establish language arrangements for the European intellectual property rights. The Council shall act unanimously after consulting the European Parliament.

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We can see that the Treaty of Lisbon text is essentially the same as that of the Constitutional Treaty. The main differences concern the legislative procedures, while the rest are small.

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What has been said about Article 118 TFEU?


United Kingdom

Professor Steve Peers covered the Treaty of Lisbon in a number of Statewatch Analyses. ‘EU Reform Treaty Analysis no. 3.3: Revised text of Part Three, Titles I to VI of the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC): Internal Market and competition’ (Version 2, 23 October 2007) includes the current Title VI Common rules on competition, taxation and approximation of laws.

Peers presented the text and numbering of Article 97a TFEU (ToL), to be renumbered Article 118 TFEU in the consolidated version, with the following comment (pages 31–32):

“This is a new legal base providing for the adoption of legislation concerning EU-wide intellectual property rights. This legal base would largely be subject to QMV and co-decision, with an exception for language arrangements (consultation of the EP and unanimity in the Council). At present, such legislation (in particular concerning the Community trademark and Community design right) is adopted by using the ‘residual powers’ clause of Article 308 TEC (consultation of the EP and unanimity in the Council).

It should be noted that EC legislation harmonising national laws relating to intellectual property, as distinct from legislation establishing EC-wide intellectual property rights, is currently adopted using the ‘legal base’ of Article 95 TEC (QMV and co-decision). This would not change. Such legislation has already harmonised, in particular, significant aspects of trademark law, copyright and related rights and design rights, along with limited aspects of patent law as well as procedural aspects of IP law.”

The analysis 3.3 and other useful Statewatch analyses are available through:

http://www.statewatch.org/euconstitution.htm


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The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) offers a convenient source of brief annotations on Lisbon Treaty amendments in ‘A comparative table of the current EC and EU treaties as amended by the Treaty of Lisbon’ (Command Paper 7311, published 21 January 2008). It offers the following comment on Article 118 TFEU, Article 97a TFEU (ToL) in the original Lisbon Treaty (page 12):

“New. Establishes a new legal basis for EU-wide intellectual property rights. Co-decision for measures, except regulations on language arrangements, which require unanimity.”

The FCO comparative table is available at:

http://www.official-documents.gov.uk/document/cm73/7311/7311.asp

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The UK House of Commons Library Research Paper 07/86 ‘The Treaty of Lisbon: amendments to the Treaty establishing the European Community’ (published 6 December 2007) discussed the new Article 97a TFEU (ToL) on page 61 (under the heading ‘2. Taxation’):

“A new Article 97(a)(Constitution Article III-176) has been inserted which deals with setting “uniform intellectual property rights protection” throughout the Union. The Council and EP will adopt laws to establish this and central Union-wide authorisation, coordination and supervision arrangements. The Council will make the language arrangements for the instruments, acting by unanimity.

Some of these aims have already been achieved by the “European Copyright Directive”. Directive 2001/29/EC on the “harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society” was adopted on 22 June 2001 and was supposed to be implemented in Member States by 22 December 2002. The UK, in common with almost every other Member State, was late in implementing the Directive. It was brought into force by Statutory Instrument on 31 October 2003. The Directive harmonises the basic rights relevant to uses of copyright material in the information society and e-commerce, namely the rights of reproduction (copying) and communication to the public (electronic transmission, including digital broadcasting and “on-demand” services). It also limits the type and scope of permitted exceptions to these rights and provides legal protection for technological measures used to safeguard rights and identify and manage copyright material. The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 already provides protection similar to many of the obligations contained in the Directive. However, the 2003 Regulations amend the Act “insofar as its provisions do not conform or comply with the Directive and regarding matters that are related to or consequential upon these obligations”.”

(I have deleted the footnote, to be found in the original document.)

The Library Research Paper 07/86 is available at:

http://www.parliament.uk/commons/lib/research/rp2007/rp07-086.pdf

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The House of Lords European Union Committee report ‘The Treaty of Lisbon: an impact assessment, Volume I: Report’ (HL Paper 62-I, published 13 March 2008) is a valuable resource on the Treaty of Lisbon. It discussed Intellectual Property and especially the new Article 118 TFEU (Article 97a TFEU ToL) on pages 219 and 220, ending with the following conclusion:

“9.24. The new Article 118 of the TFEU is a restatement of existing powers. Although the Treaty of Lisbon would not confer addition IP powers on the EU, it marks a statement of political intent and a commitment to achieving the Community patent. The move to QMV, in itself, is not significant.”

The report is accessible at:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200708/ldselect/ldeucom/62/62.pdf


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Sweden

The consultation paper ’Lissabonfördraget’ is still valuable as a description of the Lisbon Treaty amendments, and it is available at:

http://www.regeringen.se/content/1/c6/09/49/81/107aa077.pdf

However, my standard reference is currently the Swedish government’s fresh draft ratification bill ‘Lagrådsremiss – Lissabonfördraget’, published 29 May 2008 and sent to the Council on Legislation (Lagrådet) for an expert opinion. The draft deals with the EU’s internal policy areas in Chapter 23 ‘Unionens interna åtgärder’, and section 23.1 presents the internal market (Inre marknaden), on pages 175 to 181.

Intellectual property rights (Immaterialrätt) are presented on pages 179 and 180. The government welcomes the new legal base, but it would have preferred qualified majority voting on the language arrangements too.

The draft bill ‘Lagrådsremiss – Lissabonfördraget’ can be downloaded through:

http://www.regeringen.se/sb/d/5676/a/106277

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Finland

The Finnish ratification bill, ‘Hallituksen esitys Eduskunnalle Euroopan unionista tehdyn sopimuksen ja Euroopan yhteisön perustamissopimuksen muuttamisesta tehdyn Lissabonin sopimuksen hyväksymisestä ja laiksi sen lainsäädännön alaan kuuluvien määräysten voimaansaattamisesta’ (HE 23/2008 vp), explains the Article.

Under the heading Approximation of laws (Lainsäädännön lähentäminen), the bill states that Article 97a TFEU (ToL), renumbered Article 118 TFEU, is substantially the same as Article III-176 of the Constitutional Treaty (page 209):

”97 a artiklassa (uusi 118 artikla) määrätään unionin toimivallasta teollis- ja tekijänoikeuksien unionin tasolla toteutettavan suojan osalta, jota koskevista toimenpiteistä voidaan säätää tavallisessa lainsäätämisjärjestyksessä. Määräys vastaa sisällöltään perustuslakisopimuksen III-176 artiklaa.

Artiklan 1 kohdan nojalla voidaan säätää toimenpiteistä, joilla luodaan eurooppalainen suoja teollis- ja tekijänoikeuksien yhdenmukaisen suojan varmistamiseksi unionissa ja joilla muodostetaan keskitetyt luvananto-, yhteensovittamis- ja valvontajärjestelmät unionin tasolla. Nykyiseen EY-sopimukseen ei sisälly vastaavaa oikeusperustaa, mutta kyseisiä toimenpiteitä on toteutettu SEY 308 artiklan nojalla. SEUT 97 a artikla ei koske teollis- ja tekijänoikeuksia koskevan jäsenvaltioiden lainsäädännön lähentämistä tarkoittavia toimenpiteitä, joita voidaan jatkossakin antaa SEUT 94 ja 95 artiklan nojalla, jotka vastaavat nykyisiä SEY 95 ja 94 artiklaa.

Artiklan 2 kohdassa määrätään eurooppalaista suojaa koskevista kielijärjestelyistä, joita koskevia asetuksia neuvosto säätää erityistä lainsäätämisjärjestystä noudattaen. Neuvosto tekee kielijärjestelyjä koskevan ratkaisunsa yksimielisesti Euroopan parlamenttia kuultuaan.”

The Finnish ratification bill is available at:

http://www.finlex.fi/fi/esitykset/he/2008/20080023.pdf


The Swedish language version of the ratification bill ‘Regeringens proposition till Riksdagen med förslag om godkännande av Lissabonfördraget om ändring av fördraget om Europeiska unionen och fördraget om upprättandet av Europeiska gemenskapen och till lag om sättande i kraft av de bestämmelser i fördraget som hör till området för lagstiftningen’ (RP 23/2008 rd), makes the same remark under ’Tillnärmning av lagstiftning’ on Article 97a TFEU (ToL), the future Article 118 TFEU, on page 212 :

”Artikel 97 (blivande artikel 117), där det föreskrivs om medlemsstaternas befogenheter efter det att harmoniseringsåtgärder vidtagits, ändras inte. I artikel 97a (blivande artikel 118) bestäms om unionens befogenheter i fråga om skyddet för immateriella rättigheter i unionen och i fråga om vilka åtgärder om skydd kan antas enligt det ordinarie lagstiftningsförfarandet. Innehållet i bestämmelsen motsvarar artikel III-176 i det konstitutionella fördraget.

Med stöd av artikel 97a första stycket ska det föreskrivas åtgärder för att skapa europeiska rättigheter som säkerställer ett enhetligt skydd för immateriella rättigheter i unionen och för att upprätta centraliserade system för beviljande av tillstånd, samordning och kontroll på unionsnivå. Nuvarande EG-fördrag innehåller ingen motsvarande rättsgrund, men åtgärderna i fråga har vidtagits med stöd av artikel 308 i EG-fördraget. Artikel 97a gäller inte åtgärder som avser en tillnärmning av medlemsstaternas lagstiftning om immateriella rättigheter och som även i fortsättningen kan antas med stöd av artiklarna 94 och 95 i EUF-fördraget och som motsvarar de nuvarande artiklarna 95 och 94 i EGfördraget.

I artikel 97a andra stycket bestäms om språkanvändningen i samband med detta europeiska skydd, och förordningar som gäller den kan antas av rådet i enlighet med ett särskilt lagstiftningsförfarande. Rådet ska besluta om språkanvändningen med enhällighet efter att ha hört Europaparlamentet.”

The ratification bill in Swedish can be accessed at:

http://www.finlex.fi/sv/esitykset/he/2008/20080023.pdf



Ralf Grahn