Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Edith Cresson inaugurates IPR Helpdesk - new EU service to boost innovation

Two new initiatives which will change the way Europe approaches the innovation process were recently launched at an event in Paris. Supported by the EU and the European Patent Office (EPO), the two new services - the EU's IPR Helpdesk, and esp@cenet, a joint service of the EPO...
Two new initiatives which will change the way Europe approaches the innovation process were recently launched at an event in Paris. Supported by the EU and the European Patent Office (EPO), the two new services - the EU's IPR Helpdesk, and esp@cenet, a joint service of the EPO and national patent offices - are aimed at developing the use of intellectual property rights to assist innovators in Europe.

Business leaders, specialists in intellectual property rights (IPR), representatives of research & development teams, and journalists attended the launch ceremony in Paris, on 19 October 1998. The new services were launched by Edith Cresson, European Commissioner for research and innovation, and Ingo Kober, President of the EPO. These new resources are to be provided free-of-charge, in an effort to improve Europe's currently disappointing patent record. The ceremony was also the venue for the presentation of INPI's (the French Patent Office) fifth annual Innovation Awards for the Île-de-France region.

Outlining the origin of the new initiatives Mrs Cresson spoke of the danger of falling behind in this important field, "...50% of technologies patented in Europe are from third countries. In comparison, just 15% of technologies patented in the USA come from European companies. It is clear that this situation is not an accurate reflection of Europe's position in scientific research, and it could have a damaging effect on our economy." The Commissioner also noted the benefits which informed use of the patent system could offer: "The patent system is an incentive for innovation and industrial exploitation. It forms a key element in the innovation process - that of transforming research results into industrial use and commercial success."

The IPR Helpdesk is an initiative of the European Commission's INNOVATION programme, and will be the central IPR reference point for EU-funded research contractors. A short video presentation outlined its role, and that of esp@cenet. The Helpdesk offers a telephone helpline facility, staffed by a team of IPR experts, and a comprehensive Website. As Mrs Cresson explained, it is essential that researchers who benefit from EU support are also informed about the complex issues relating to intellectual property rights, and patents in particular.

The esp@cenet service is a joint venture of the European Patent Office (EPO) and the national patent offices in European countries. Launching esp@cenet, Ingo Kober outlined its main features: "It is a decentralised service, bringing together the documentary resources of the EPO and its 19 member states." Available on-line and updated regularly, it provides the world's largest source of patent information freely available on the Internet. Mr Kober thanked the Commission for its support in the establishment of esp@cenet, and looked forward to working in partnership with the IPR Helpdesk in pursuing the same goals.

Concluding her speech, Edith Cresson noted that, "Bold and wide-ranging actions at EU level are essential. We need to work together with all interested parties, keeping the focus on the end-user - Europe's companies and citizens."

Source: IPR Helpdesk

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