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Intellectual property – A vital asset for growth, says Bonino

A vital asset for Italian growth, and an issue for which uniform worldwide protection is more than ever necessary. This was how Foreign Minister Emma Bonino described intellectual property (IP) at the conference on “Intellectual Property: a strategic economic development factor in a global market”. The aim of the conference was to focus individual aspects of IP, which has become a key sector in today’s international markets.Participants at the conference included the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO),Francis Gurry, and the Minister for Economic Development, Flavio Zanonato.


Protecting geographical indications is crucial for our exports, says Valensise


The conference was opened by the Secretary General of the Farnesina, Ambassador Michele Valensise, who focused on the question of geographical indications and, more specifically, the “Made in Italy” brand. “Protecting geographical indications in third countries is a challenge for our enterprises, which are faced with difficulties arising from gaps in the legislative framework. Effective protection of geographical indications is vital for our exports, especially in the agri-food sector”, commented Ambassador Valensise. The Secretary General explained that “in difficult economic times, original and creative works can help improve our country’s competitiveness and our enterprises’ penetration in complex markets”.


Quality and innovation are a competitive advantage for SMEs only if protected at the global level, says Bonino


Minister Bonino too stressed the importance of protecting intellectual property. “I’m convinced that the protection of IP is a vital asset not just in maintaining our current position but to revitalise the country’s growth”, she underscored. “We are seeing a system characterised by increasingly fierce competition to exploit recent technological discoveries for commercial purposes. There is a clear and growingneed to builda strongerframework of agreed, balanced rules to protect IP rights in as uniform a way as possible”.


The link between the Italian economy – which consists primarily of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – and protecting IP was another point underscored by Minister Bonino. “The offering of innovative goods and services is a crucial competitive factor for Italian SMEs”, she pointed out. “Quality and innovation can create a competitive advantage only if protected at the global level. The Italian economy has an added value – quality – which needs to be safeguarded. And quality is crucial if we are to operate successfully in an international market open to competitors who have the advantage of lower production costs”, added the Minister.


The intangible economy is growing and we’re moving towards knowledge-based capital, says Francis Gurry (WIPO)


Figures produced by a joint study by the European Patents Office and the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) confirmed Minister Bonino’s words. The report, on the impact of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) on the European economy, shows that in 2008-2010, 26% of employment in the European Union was in IPR-intensive industries. Over the same period, these industries generated 39% of the EU’s total GDP. “The intangible economy is growing. We’ve moved away from physical capital and towards knowledge-based capital”, explained WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. He underscored that, in this field too, we are seeing “a shift from west to east. In 1994, China, Japan and South Korea accounted for 7% of patent applications, while in 2012 the figure had risen to 38%”.

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