The motto for the High Level Conference on Intellectual Property in the Age of Digital Transition was ‘remember the past, act in the present and reflect on the challenges of the future’.
Organised by the Ministry of Justice and by the National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI), under the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union, “the conference on “The Intellectual Property Metamorphosis in the Age of Digital Transition” was made up of four panels, reflecting on the importance of intellectual property in the European context.
In her opening address, the Minister of Justice highlighted the need to “delve more deeply into science, knowledge, value creation and the protection of the economy”. In the Justice area, it is also important to strengthen the rule of law and the protection of the freedoms and guarantees of the citizens, the protection of intellectual property through criminal law, the digital transformation in Justice and the fight against counterfeiting. Issues which have taken on particular relevance for Francisca Van Dunem in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Minister of Justice believes that it is “vital” to continue to promote debate on technology, on artificial intelligence and on green technology and “the way methodologies could influence our future”. She took advantage of the opportunity to announce that Portugal has become a party to the digital “Wipo Green” project, related to sustainable technology.
“Promoting more and better jobs through innovation and knowledge” is one of the aims of the Minister of State for the Economy and the Digital Transition. Pedro Siza Vieira advocates the creation of an area of prosperity, with new products based on the qualifications of European citizens and new technology in industrial processes. He also said that the transmission of knowledge should be made into a market value and that support for institutions and companies, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, should be reinforced.
On the date marking the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, the Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education made a point of referring to the active role now played by women, as seen in the “metamorphosis” in the way society looks at knowledge. “In Portugal, 50% of our scientific community, which is also seriously committed to protection and assessment processes for intellectual property, is now made up of women.” Manuel Heitor also referred to the launch of the Horizon Europe programme, which is intended to be an asset to this sector.
For the Minister of Culture, the protection logic should “revolve around basic principles such as the protection of works and their creators”. The advent of the digital age has brought challenges to copyright law. “It is up to us to ensure the development of legal protection mechanisms that will guarantee and boost creation”, argued Graça Fonseca, reinforcing the importance of not allowing digital content to be trivialised and undermined. It is a question of ensuring that culture is used and protected in different ways.
The European Commissioner for the Internal Market believes in the importance of technological development as a way of overcoming the crisis. Thierry Breton wants to see companies capitalising on their innovations more, in different areas of activity. In November 2020, the European Commission presented an “Intellectual Property Plan” aimed at having a more streamlined innovation and development system and defending the idea of unitary patents. “Protecting intellectual property is not an end in itself. It is a means of ensuring that creativity and innovation are rewarded, so that they can improve society as a whole”, the European Commissioner emphasised.
Also participating in the session were the President of the National Institute of Industrial Property, Ana Bandeira, the Executive Director of the European Union Intellectual Property Office, Christian Archambeau, the President of the European Patent Office, António Campinos and the Director-General of the World Intellectual Property Organisation, Daren Tang.
The participants pointed out the importance of including small and medium-sized enterprises in the process, highlighting the role of industry in leveraging the European economy, the move from tangible assets to intangible assets and the need for multilateral approaches. Finally, the role played by intellectual property in the priorities of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union was also underlined.