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Italian fight for safeguarding intellectual property

Foreign Minister Emma Bonino believes that IP protection is crucial to revitalise Italian growth

Italian fight for safeguarding intellectual property

Claudia Astarita

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Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino recently defined intellectual property as "a vital asset for Italian growth, and an issue for which uniform worldwide protection is more than ever necessary". She stressed her point of view during a conference on "Intellectual Property: a strategic economic development factor in a global market" recently organized by the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs (MFA).

This conference focused on individual aspects of IP, which has become a key sector in today's international markets. Among participants, the Italian Minister for Economic Development, Flavio Zanonato, and the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), Francis Gurry.

Ambassador Michele Valensise, Italian MFA Secretary General, opened the conference highlighting the importance of protecting 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. [...] In difficult economic times, original and creative works can help improve our country's competitiveness and our enterprises' penetration in complex markets".

According to Minister Bonino, quality and innovation can become a competitive advantage for SMEs only if protected at the global level. Therefore, she further stressed that, especially for Italy, whose economy consists primarily of small and medium-sized enterprises IP protection is crucial not only to maintain its current position, but also "to revitalise the country's growth [...] 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."

It is interesting to highlight that figures produced by a joint study by the European Patents Office and the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) confirms 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.

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