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Legal framework for mobile TV

Legal framework for mobile TV

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Legal framework for mobile TV

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Audiovisual and media

Legal framework for mobile TV

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 10 December 2008 – Legal Framework for Mobile TV Networks and Services: Best Practice for Authorisation – The EU Model [COM(2008) 845 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

This communication follows on from that of 2007 on the strengthening of the internal market for mobile TV, which highlighted the importance of the regulatory environment in the take-up of such services. It provides examples of best practice on national regulatory approaches to mobile TV networks and services.

Since launching its mobile TV initiative, the Commission has published overviews of the existing regulatory landscape in Europe with regular updates. This fact-finding exercise showed that Member States have taken very differing approaches to mobile TV. Consequently, the Telecommunications Council of November 2007 requested that the Commission take a more active role and proceed with identifying best practice on authorisation regimes for mobile TV and guiding the national adoption thereof.

When the Commission launched its mobile TV initiative in July 2007, only a few Member States had started addressing regulatory issues. To date, some Member States have still not established a regulatory framework for mobile TV networks and services, while others intend to extend the application of the general broadcasting regime to mobile TV broadcasting. In any case, the Commission is stressing the importance of avoiding situations of regulatory uncertainty. Furthermore, due to the wireless nature of mobile TV and hence the possible cross-border characteristic that it may acquire in the future, the authorisation regimes should also consider the internal market dimension. It is essential that the national regulatory approaches be as consistent as possible, without dismissing the local specificities.

Currently, the European mobile TV market is characterised by three main regulatory models that define the licensed operator’s rights as well as obligations:

  • extension of existing Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) rules; however, this might not suffice eventually;
  • the “plain wholesale model”, where spectrum is assigned to a single operator may raise concerns under the competition directive, in particular if the assignment is made without an open and fair procedure under non-discriminatory rules;
  • the “integrated approach”, which in the Commission’s opinion seems to best suit the launch of the mobile TV service since it will involve all relevant market players.

The regulatory regime for mobile TV services should be conceived in such a way that any undue impediments or delays are avoided. The role of regulation should be to provide minimum standards, which will guarantee the efficient use of frequencies. The central elements to consider in the regulatory regime are the:

  • general framework, which should be clear, transparent and adaptable to new developments. The authorisation procedures should be efficient and open to all market players so that a level playing field is guaranteed. Similarly, a timely legislative process needs to be ensured. In order to tailor regulation to the needs of the market, Member States should put in place public consultation mechanisms. At the same time, regular reporting by public authorities on market developments is considered best practice, so that appropriate propositions can be made if the existing rules need to be adapted accordingly.
  • authorisation regimes, which should be clear and transparent. To this end, the relationship between e-communications, spectrum and content rules should be clearly defined. Furthermore, the granting of authorisations should be centralised through a “one-stop-shop” to provide for a simplified and coordinated procedure.
  • award procedures that should be public, transparent and well defined, and for which a clear schedule should be put in place ahead of the commercial trials of mobile TV services. The award criteria should insist on quality of service, optimal use of spectrum and collaboration among the market players. The criteria should be applied in an objective, transparent and non-discriminatory manner, with due consideration given to competition rules.
  • specific aspects, which should not impose any unnecessary burdens on operators. For example, “must-carry” rules are not appropriate at this stage of mobile TV service development; however, Member States should organise discussions on “must offer” rules. At the same time, network infrastructure sharing and co-location should be encouraged, while the issues concerning interoperability and roaming should also be taken into consideration.

To further guarantee the effectiveness of the regulatory practices relating to mobile TV, the Commission aims to continue promoting the exchange of best practice between national administrators and the relevant market players.

LEADER+

LEADER+

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about LEADER+

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These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Regional policy > Provisions and instruments of regional policy

LEADER+

The Community Initiative Leader+ is part of the Community’s rural development policy, the second pillar of the common agricultural policy (CAP). In the period 2000-06, it is geared to the diversification of economic activity in rural areas by applying innovative, integrated and participative territorial development strategies. This communication defines the Commission’s guidelines for Leader+, focusing on cooperation between territories and networking.

Document or Iniciative

Commission Communication of 14 April 2000 to the Member States laying down guidelines for the Community Initiative for Rural Development (Leader+) [See amending acts].

Summary

Changes in the agricultural sector as a result of the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the increasing demands of consumers, environmental pressure, the rapid spread of new technology, the ageing population and rural depopulation are all factors affecting the countryside today. Under the Community’s innovative rural development policy, rural areas have embarked on a debate on their socio-economic role and are making structural adjustments in order to meet these important challenges effectively.

As the second pillar of the CAP and a major factor in economic and social cohesion, the Community’s rural development policy is not restricted to boosting the competitiveness of agriculture. It also encourages the development of new activities and sources of employment. The Community Initiatives Leader I (1991-94) and Leader II (1994-99) also played an experimental role, which has made it possible to define and implement innovative, integrated and participative local schemes.

All those participating in the experiment had such a positive overall view of it that the Commission wished to proceed further along this road. It therefore included Leader+, the new Community Initiative for rural development, in the general rules on the Structural Funds for the 2000-06 programming period.

GENERAL PROVISIONS

Objectives

Drawing on the specific resources of rural areas as part of a development strategy which is relevant and tailored to the local circumstances seems increasingly to be the only way of adapting them to an ever-changing socio-economic context.

Leader I and II taught the following lessons:

  • Strengths: the mobilising of local actors to take control of the future of their area; decentralised, integrated and bottom-up approach to territorial development; the exchange and transfer of experience through the creation of networks; the ability to include small-scale projects and support small-scale promoters.
  • Weaknesses: delays in the selection of beneficiaries in some Member States, and consequently in the launching of programmes; fragile partnerships; the accumulation of disparate procedures and the dispersal of financial resources.

The Leader+ Initiative continues its role as a laboratory, which can encourage the emergence of new approaches to integrated and sustainable rural development. These approaches will complement national and European rural development policy in the context of the “mainstream” programmes, in particular under Objective 1, Objective 2 and Objective 3 of the Structural Funds.

The aim of Leader+ is thus to encourage rural actors to think about the longer-term potential of their area. The local actors implement the original strategy that they themselves have designed, experimenting with new ways of:

  • enhancing natural and cultural heritage,
  • reinforcing the economic environment in order to create jobs,
  • improving the organisational capabilities of their community.

Cooperation is a key component of Leader+, be it between different areas in the same Member State, between rural areas in several Member States and even beyond if necessary. Relevant new rural development models will be exploited and disseminated through a major networking exercise.

Financial provisions

The Community budget for Leader+ for 2000-06 is 2 020 million at 1999 prices under the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF) Guidance Section.

Leader+ supports all measures eligible for financing by the EAGGF Guidance Section, the ERDF and the European Social Fund. All expenditure related to participating in the networks and running them, providing information, and managing, monitoring and evaluating the programme is eligible for part-financing. With the exception of small-scale projects, investments in infrastructure and productive investments of a unit cost higher than a certain ceiling are not eligible.

The rules on the rates of Community contribution laid down in the general Regulation of the Structural Funds apply. In particular, the maximum EAGGF Guidance Section contribution is 75% of the total eligible volume in the regions covered by Objective 1 and 50% in other areas.

SCOPE

Unlike Leader I and II, all rural areas are eligible under Leader+, in particular those which did not take part in the earlier Community Initiatives. In order to concentrate Community resources on the most promising proposals, Community funding under actions 1 and 2 is granted to a limited number of rural territories only. Accordingly, the national authorities must set up an open and rigorous procedure for selecting which rural areas may benefit under Leader+ through one (or more) national call(s) for proposals. Selection is based on general criteria laid down in the Commission’s guidelines and specific criteria taking account of both the specific situation of the rural areas concerned and the objectives that the Member States are seeking to attain through Leader+.

The rural areas designated do not necessarily coincide with national administrative boundaries or with zones established for the purpose of eligibility under Objectives 1 and 2 of the Structural Funds. These are small rural territories which form a homogeneous unit in geographical, economic and social terms and which have the resources needed to implement a development strategy. As a general rule, the population of the territories selected should not number less than 10 000 inhabitants, and not more than 100 000 in the most densely populated areas (around 120 inhabitants/km²). However, in some areas of northern Europe, properly justified exceptions to these criteria may be accepted.

BENEFICIARIES

The final beneficiaries of assistance under Leader+ are the local action groups (LAGs). These groups draw up the development strategy for their territory and are responsible for implementing it on the basis of a specific development plan.

The LAGs create an open local partnership which clearly allocates the powers and responsibilities to the different partners. They are made up of a balanced and representative selection of partners drawn from the different socio-economic sectors in the local area. The economic and social partners and non-profit (voluntary) associations must make up at least 50% of the local partnership.

The members of the LAGs must be locally based. They either select an administrative and financial head qualified to administer public funds, or come together in a legally-constituted common structure which fulfils the same function.

ACTIONS

Leader+ is structured around three actions:

  • Action 1: Support for integrated territorial rural development strategies of a pilot nature based on the bottom-up approach and horizontal partnerships;
  • Action 2: Support for inter-territorial and transnational cooperation;
  • Action 3: the networking of all rural areas in the Community, whether or not they are beneficiaries under Leader+, and all rural development actors.

Action 1: Integrated territorial rural development strategies of a pilot nature

This action provides support for rural areas which devise and implement an integrated and sustainable pilot development strategy. These territories present the national authorities with a development plan based on a representative partnership and structured around a strong theme typical of the identity of the territory concerned.

The development plans drawn up by the LAGs must take into account the following:

  • The strategy must encourage interaction between actors, sectors and projects built around a strong theme typical of the identity and/or resources and/or specific know-how of the area.
    The priority themes are: the use of new know-how and new technologies, improving the quality of life, making the best use of natural and cultural resources, including enhancing the value of sites of Community interest selected under ” Natura 2000 ” and, lastly, adding value to local products, in particular by facilitating access to markets for small production units via collective actions. Lastly, enhancing job opportunities and/or activities for women and young people is a Community priority.
  • The development strategy must demonstrate its roots in and relevance to the area, particularly in terms of socio-economic viability and sustainability.
  • The strategy must be demonstrably innovative and a pilot scheme.

    Original and ambitious approaches to rural development intended to take further the experiment started under Leader I and II. Strategies should explore innovative approaches to development which are new to the areas concerned and not yet attempted under the Leader method.
    The “pilot” nature of a strategy can be assessed in a variety of ways: the emergence of new products and services; the adoption of innovative methods for managing available resources; interaction between economic sectors which have traditionally been separate; development of original forms of organisation and involvement of the local population.
  • Strategies must complement the operations under the mainstream programmes.

Action 2: Support for cooperation between rural territories

Only the areas selected for Action 1 of Leader+ are eligible for Action 2, which supports cooperation between rural territories. Under Action 2, financial assistance covers both upstream expenditure on technical assistance to set up cooperation and the joint project proper.

Cooperation often enables rural territories to achieve the critical mass necessary for a joint project to be viable and encourage complementary actions between partners. It involves pooling know-how and/or human and financial resources which are usually dispersed across the territories. Two types of cooperation are possible:

  • Inter-territorial cooperation within the same Member State.
    While the cooperating territories are not necessarily beneficiaries under Leader+, the cooperation themes are primarily those defined in the development plans of the eligible territories.
  • Transnational cooperation between territories in several Member States.
    In addition to territories selected under Leader+, transnational cooperation is also open to territories that took part in Leader I and II or other rural territories organised in line with the Leader approach. While only Leader+ territories are eligible for Community part-financing, promotion expenditure is eligible for all the territories involved. Where a Leader+ territory develops a transnational cooperation project with a territory which is outside the European Union but is organised in line with the Leader approach, the relevant expenditure by that territory is also eligible.

Action 3: Networking

Exchanging know-how, experience and information on rural development successes is a priority of Leader+. Active participation in the network is therefore mandatory for beneficiaries under the Initiative.

The networking of all rural areas in the European Union, whether or not they are beneficiaries under Leader+, and all rural development actors, such as the rural information and promotion carrefours, which act as relays for information about the European Union located in rural areas, stimulates cooperation and the exchange of expertise.

Each Member State lays down the rules needed to set up a network organisation unit at national level. The job of this unit is to coordinate the network, identify, analyse and disseminate good practice, organise exchanges of experience and know-how for the benefit of less-advanced territories and provide technical assistance for local and transnational cooperation.

The Commission is setting up an Observatory of rural areas at European level, which may not cost more than 2% of the total budget for Leader+. The Observatory will be responsible for organising the network of rural territories at Community level, for the purpose of:

  • gathering and disseminating information on Community rural development measures and trends in rural areas throughout Europe,
  • collecting, consolidating and disseminating good practice in rural development at Community level,
  • organising meetings at Community level for beneficiaries under Leader+ and stimulating transnational cooperation,
  • assisting the national authorities in their coordinating role and facilitating cooperation,
  • drafting reports on the implementation of and lessons learned from Leader+.

IMPLEMENTATION

Leader+ Community Initiative programmes

The Commission makes an indicative financial allocation to each Member State (see the table at the end of this sheet). On this basis, the Member States consult the most representative partners at all the appropriate levels. The Member States then have six months following the publication of the Commission’s guidelines in the Official Journal in which to submit their Leader+ Community Initiative Programme (CIP) to the Commission. The Commission must approve these programmes within five months of receiving them, whereupon it adopts the contribution of the EAGGF Guidance Section. 56 programmes were approved in 2001, of which 11 were at national level and 45 regional. The 17 remaining programmes will be adopted during the first quarter of 2002 (see the summary table at the end of this sheet).

The Member States all opted to draw up Operational Programmes accompanied by a programming complement. In line with the results of the ex ante evaluation, all the CIPs deal with:

  • the strengths, weaknesses and potential of the territory;
  • the objectives sought and the strategy to attain them;
  • the criteria, procedure and timetable for selecting the LAGs.
    Member States must inform the Commission of the number of LAGs they intend to select by means of one or more calls for tender no later than two years after their programme is approved;
  • the method chosen for selecting transnational and inter-territorial cooperation projects;
  • a financing plan for each priority by year and by source of funding;
  • the provisions needed for implementation, economic and financial management, monitoring and checking operations on the ground and evaluation;
  • arrangements for informing the end beneficiaries and the general public;
  • the coherency and value-added of the proposed measures and the expected impact on the territories concerned.

Management, control, monitoring and evaluation

The parts of the general Regulation on the Structural Funds dealing with the management, control, monitoring and evaluation of assistance apply to the Leader+ Initiative.

In terms of financial management, programmes must clearly describe the management arrangements and the procedures for the mobilisation and circulation of financial flows, in particular of Community funds. Moreover, the procedures set up must ensure effective control of expenditure.

At the level of the LAGs, a monitoring committee monitors the operations using financial and structural indicators to analyse financial execution, the actual implementation of operations and their impact on the territory. The results are then transmitted to the European Observatory for processing and dissemination. At regional and national level, a steering committee must meet at least once a year to analyse the progress on implementing Leader+.

To find out about the Community Initiative Programmes at the relevant level in each Member State, please consult the pages on Leader+ on the Directorate-General for Agriculture’s website.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Commission communication of 14 April 2000 C 139 of 18.5.2000
Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Commission communication C 262 of 31.10.2003
Commission communication C 294 of 4.12.2003

Related Acts

Commission Decision C (2000) 1220 of 12 May 2000 fixing an indicative allocation by Member State of the commitment appropriations under the Community Initiative Leader+ for the period 2000-06. The allocation is as follows:

Member State Amounts
(in million)
Belgium 15
Denmark 16
Germany 247
Greece 172
Spain 467
France 252
Ireland 45
Italy 267
Luxembourg 2
Netherlands 78
Austria 71
Portugal 152
Finland 52
Sweden 38
United Kingdom 106
European network 40
Total 2020

Commission Decisions approving the national/regional Community Initiative Programmes for Leader+:

Member State Decision
SPAIN 18 programmes
Andalusia C(2001) 2158 of 5.9.2001
Aragon C(2001) 2067 of 31.7.2001
Asturias C(2001) 2857 of 18.10.2001
Balearic Islands C(2001) 4206 of 17.12.2001
Catalonia C(2001) 2128 of 27.8.2001
Castile-León, C(2001) 2176 of 20.8.2001
Castile-La Mancha C(2001) 2066 of 31.7.2001
Canary Islands C(2001) 2177 of 20.8.2001
Cantabria C(2001) 2065 of 31.7.2001
Extremadura C(2001) 2159 of 5.9.2001
Galicia C(2001) 2179 of 20.8.2001
Madrid C(2001) 2068 of 31.7.2001
Murcia C(2001) 2183 of 23.8.2001
Navarre C(2001) 2184 of 23.8.2001
Basque Country C(2002) 210 of 8.2.2002
Rioja C(2001) 2178 of 20.8.2001
Valencia C(2001) 2761 of 1.10.2001
Network C(2001) 1245 of 18.5.2001
FRANCE 1 national programme: C(2001) 2094 of 7.8.2001
NETHERLANDS 4 programmes
North C(2001) 1298 of 31.7.2001
East C(2001) 1299 of 30.7.2001
West C(2001) 1297 of 30.7.2001
South C(2001) 1300 of 31.7.2001
ITALY 22 programmes
Abruzzo C(2001) 4207 of 17.12.2001
Basilicata C(2002)247 of 19.2.2002
Bolzano C(2001) 2743 of 25.09.2001
Calabria C(2002) 246 of 19.2.2002
Campania C(2002) 168 of 29.1.2002
Emilia-Romagna C(2001) 3561 of 19.11.2001
Friuli-Venezia Giulia C(2001) 3563 of 19.11.2001
Lazio C(2001) 3626 of 26.11.2001
Liguria C(2001) 3559 of 19.11.2001
Lombardy C(2001) 3560 of 19.11.2001
Marche C(2001) 4144 of 13.12.2001
Molise C(2002) 250 of 19.2.2002
Piedmont C(2001) 3558 of 19.11.2001
Apulia C(2002) 171 of 29.1.2002
Sardinia C(2002) 248 of 19.2.2002
Sicily C(2002) 249 of 19.2.2001
Tuscany C(2001) 4012 of 3.12.2001
Trentino C(2001) 3490 of 7.11.2001
Umbria C(2001) 3489 of 7.11.2001
Valle d’Aosta C(2001) 2744 of 25.09.2001
Veneto C(2001) 3564 of 19.11.2001
Network C(2002) 251 of 19.2.2002
GERMANY 14 programmes
Baden-Württemberg C(2002) 110 of 12.3.2002
Bavaria C(2001) 1314 of 17.12.2001
Brandenburg C(2002) 1308 of 9.1.2002
Hessen C(2002) 108 of 22.3.2002
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern C(2002) 109 of 13.2.2002
Lower Saxony C(2001) 1312 of 17.12.2001
North Rhine -Westphalia C(2001) 1305 of 22.11.2001
Rhineland-Palatinate C(2002) 107 of 30.1.2002
Saxony C(2002) 106 of 29.1.2002
Schleswing-Holstein C(2001) 1306 of 29.11.2001
Saarland C(2002) 4699 of 19.12.2002
Saxony-Anhalt C(2001) 1303 of 3.12.2001
Thuringia C(2001) 1311 of 17.12.2001
Network C(2001) 1304 of 22.11.2001
DENMARK 1 programme
C(2001) 2129 of 27.08.2001
UNITED KINGDOM 4 programmes
England C(2001) 2100 of 9.8.2001
Wales C(2001) 1379 of 2.7.2001
Northern Ireland C(2001) 2741 of 21.9.2001
Scotland C(2002) 37 of 8.1.2002
BELGIUM 2 programmes
Flanders C(2001) 4738 of 20.12.2001
Wallonia C(2001) 4202 of 17.12.2001
LUXEMBOURG 1 programme
C(2001) 1315 of 13.12.2001
FINLAND 1 programme
C(2001) 785 of 22.3.2001
SWEDEN 1 programme
C(2001) 1383 of 3.7.2001
PORTUGAL 1 programme
C(2001) 3148 of 25.7.2001
GREECE 1 programme
C(2001) 3562 of 19.11.2001
IRELAND 1 programme
C(2001) 1296 of 3.7.2001

Least developed countries

Least developed countries

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Least developed countries

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Development > Least developed countries (LDC)

Least developed countries (LDC)

Balanced global development is one of the European Union’s objectives and focuses especially on the most vulnerable countries. The Union takes part in international initiatives to assist these countries and places its instruments at their disposal.

Some initiatives are directed at the least-developed countries (LDCs), the list of which is drawn up by the United Nations. Other initiatives are directed at the heavily indebted poor countries (HIPCs) and provide debt relief under the aegis of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

THE MOST HEAVILY-INDEBTED DEVELOPING COUNTRIES

  • Heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) initiative
  • Community participation in the initiative to ease the debt burden of highly-indebted poor countries (HIPC)
  • Exceptional aid for highly-indebted ACP States

SPECIAL COMMERCIAL ARRANGEMENTS

  • A scheme of generalised tariff preferences 2009-2011
  • Scheme of preferences from 2006 to 2015 – Guidelines
  • Generalised System of Preferences 2006 – 2008

Legal protection: topographies of semiconductor products

Legal protection: topographies of semiconductor products

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Legal protection: topographies of semiconductor products

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Internal market > Businesses in the internal market > Intellectual property

Legal protection: topographies of semiconductor products

This Directive therefore aims to provide a clear legal framework for the protection of topographies of semiconductor products and to remove the differences between the national laws in force in this field.

Document or Iniciative

Council Directive 87/54/EEC of 16 December 1986 on the legal protection of topographies of semiconductor products.

Summary

Definitions of “semiconductor product” *, “topography” * and “commercial exploitation” *.

There is an obligation on Member States to adopt legislation to protect topographies in so far as they are the result of their creator’s own intellectual effort and are not commonplace in the semiconductor industry.

The right to protection is granted to the person who is the topography’s creator, subject to that person being a natural person who is a national of a Member State or ordinarily resident there. However, Member States may specify to whom the right is granted where a topography is created in the course of the creator’s employment or under a contract other than a contract of employment.

Under certain conditions, protection is also granted to natural persons, companies or other legal persons who first commercially exploit a topography:

– which has not previously been exploited commercially and;

– who have been exclusively authorised to commercially exploit the topography throughout the Community by the person entitled to dispose of it.

The Directive lays down the procedure for extending the right to protection to persons not covered by the Directive.

Member States may refuse or remove protection in respect of the topography of a semiconductor product where an application for registration in due form has not been filed with a public authority within two years of its being commercially exploited for the first time. They may require that material identifying or exemplifying the topography be deposited. However, they must ensure that material deposited is not made available to the public where it is a trade secret.

The rights granted are exclusive rights. They include the right to authorise or prohibit reproduction of a protected topography and the right to authorise or prohibit commercial exploitation or the importation for that purpose of a topography or of a semiconductor product manufactured using the topography. The exclusive right to authorise or prohibit reproduction does not apply to the reproduction for the purpose of analysing, evaluating or teaching the concepts, processes, systems or techniques embodied in the topography or the topography itself.

Where registration of the topography constitutes a condition for the coming into existence of exclusive rights, those rights will take effect on the date on which the application for registration is filed or on the date on which the topography is first commercially exploited anywhere in the world, whichever comes first. If registration is not a condition for protection, the rights will come into existence when the topography is first commercially exploited anywhere in the world or when it is first fixed or encoded.

The exclusive rights come to an end 10 years from the end of the calendar year in which the topography was first commercially exploited. Where registration is required, the 10-year period is calculated from the end of the calendar year in which the application for registration was filed or from the end of the calendar year in which the topography was first commercially exploited, whichever comes first.

The legal protection of topographies of semiconductor products has been extended to natural persons, companies and other legal persons from the United States (Decision 93/16/EEC), Canada (Decision 94/700/EC), a Member of the World Trade Organization (Decision 94/824/EC) and the Isle of Man (Decision 96/644/EC).

Key terms 

  • Semiconductor product: the final or an intermediate form of any product:
    – consisting of a body of material which includes a layer of semiconducting material and
    – having one or more other layers composed of conducting, insulating or semiconducting material, the layers being arranged in accordance with a predetermined three-dimensional pattern and
    – intended to perform, exclusively or together with other functions, an electronic function.
  • Topography of a semiconductor product: a series of related images, however fixed or encoded
    – representing the three-dimensional pattern of the layers of which a semiconductor product is composed;
    – in which series, each image has the pattern or part of the pattern of a surface of the semiconductor product at any stage of its manufacture.
  • Commercial exploitation: the sale, rental, leasing or any other method of commercial distribution, or an offer for these purposes.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Directive 87/54/EEC 27.01.1987 07.11.1987 OJ L 24 of 27.01.1987

Related Acts

EXTENSION OF THE PROTECTION TO THIRD COUNTRIES

Council Decision 96/644/EC of 11 November 1996 on the extension of the legal protection of topographies of semiconductor products to persons from the Isle of Man [Official Journal L 293 of 16.11.1996]

Council Decision 94/824/EC of 22 December 1994 on the extension of the legal protection of topographies of semiconductor products to persons from a Member of the World Trade Organization [Official Journal L 349 of 31.12.1994]

Council Decision 94/700/EC of 24 October 1994 on the extension of the legal protection of topographies of semiconductor products to persons from Canada [Official Journal L 284 of 01.11.1994]

Council Decision 93/520/EEC of 27 September 1993 amending Decision 93/16/EEC on the extension of the legal protection of topographies of semiconductor products to persons from the United States of America and certain territories [Official Journal L 246 of 02.10.1993]

Council Decision 93/16/EEC of 21 December 1992 on the extension of the legal protection of topographies of semiconductor products to persons from the United States of America and certain territories [Official Journal L 11 of 19.01.1993].

Legal protection of biotechnological inventions

Legal protection of biotechnological inventions

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Legal protection of biotechnological inventions

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Internal market > Pharmaceutical and cosmetic products

Legal protection of biotechnological inventions

Document or Iniciative

European Parliament and Council Directive 98/44/EC of 6 July 1998 on the legal protection of biotechnological inventions.

Summary

The objective of the Directive is to clarify the distinction between what is patentable and what is not. It particularly seeks to confirm that the human body at the various stages of its formation and development, and processes for cloning human beings and for modifying the germ-line genetic identity of human beings, may not be regarded as patentable inventions.

In order to protect biotechnological inventions, Member States must ensure that their national patent laws conform to the provisions of the Directive.

Patentability

Inventions which are new, involve an inventive step and are susceptible of industrial application are patentable even if they concern a product consisting of or containing biological material *. Biological material which is isolated from its natural environment or produced by means of a technical process may also be the subject of an invention.

The following are not patentable:

  • plant and animal varieties;
  • essentially biological processes for the production of plants or animals, such as crossing or selection. This exclusion from patentability does not, however, affect the patentability of inventions which concern a microbiological process *;
  • the human body and the simple discovery of one of its elements, including the sequence or partial sequence of a gene.

However, an element isolated from the human body or produced by means of a technical process, including the sequence or partial sequence of a gene, may constitute a patentable invention.

The following inventions include those that are unpatentable where their exploitation would be contrary to public policy or morality:

  • processes for cloning human beings;
  • processes for modifying the germ-line genetic identity of human beings;
  • uses of human embryos for industrial or commercial purposes;
  • processes for modifying the genetic identity of animals which are likely to cause them suffering without any substantial medical benefit to man or animal, and also animals resulting from such processes.

Ethical aspects

The Commission’s European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies is to evaluate all ethical aspects of biotechnology.

Extent of protection

The protection conferred by a patent on a biological material possessing specific characteristics as a result of the invention extends to any biological material derived from that biological material through propagation or multiplication and possessing those same characteristics.

The protection conferred by a patent on a product containing genetic information extends to all material in which the product is incorporated.

The protection referred to in points 8 and 9 does not, however, extend:

  • to biological material obtained from the propagation or multiplication of biological material, where the multiplication or propagation necessarily results from the application for which the material was marketed by the holder of the patent or with his consent, provided that the material obtained is not subsequently used for other propagation or multiplication;
  • to plant-propagating material or breeding stock sold to a farmer by the holder of the patent or with his consent, provided that the farmer uses the biological material or livestock for his own agricultural purposes.

Compulsory cross-licensing

Where a breeder cannot acquire or exploit a plant variety right without infringing a prior patent, he may apply for a compulsory licence for non-exclusive use of the invention protected by this patent, subject to payment of an appropriate royalty.

This also applies where the holder of a patent concerning a biotechnological invention cannot exploit it without infringing a prior plant variety right.

Procedures for depositing biotechnological inventions

The application for a patent must meet a certain number of conditions (the biological material has been deposited no later than the date on which the patent application was filed with a recognised depositary institution, transmission of information on the characteristics of the biological material deposited, etc.).

Key terms used in the act
  • Biological material: any material containing genetic information and capable of reproducing itself or being reproduced in a biological system.
  • Microbiological process: any process involving or performed upon or resulting in microbiological material.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Directive 98/44/EC 30.7.1998 30.7.2000 OJ L 213 of 30.7.1998

Legal protection: databases

Legal protection: databases

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Legal protection: databases

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Internal market > Businesses in the internal market > Intellectual property

Legal protection: databases

sui generis right for the creators of databases, whether or not these have an intrinsically innovative nature.

Document or Iniciative

Directive 96/9/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 11 March 1996 on the legal protection of databases.

Summary

Scope

This directive applies to databases, irrespective of their form (e.g. electronic or print media).
The Directive defines a database as “a collection of independent works, data or other materials arranged in a systematic or methodical way and individually accessible by electronic or other means”.

The Directive does not apply to the software used in the making or operation of the database or to the works and materials contained therein. Nor does it affect the legal provisions covering patents, marks, designs and models or unfair competition.

Objective

The objective of the Directive is to provide:

  • copyright protection for the intellectual creation involved in the selection and arrangement of materials;
  • sui generis protection for an investment (financial and in terms of human resources, effort and energy) in the obtaining, verification or presentation of the contents of a database.

Copyright

The protection of the scheme of a database under copyright law as defined by the Agreement on TRIPS is accorded when the scheme constitutes, by virtue of the choice or arrangement of the material, an intellectual creation particular to its author.

The creator of a database enjoys a group of exclusive rights (restricted acts, e.g. reproduction, alteration, distribution, etc.).

The legitimate user of a database may perform all the acts referred to in point 5 that are necessary for using the database, subject to certain restrictions.

Sui generisrights

In addition to the copyright arrangements, provision has also been made for another set of sui generis arrangements. Thus, the creator of a database, whether a natural or legal person, can prohibit the unauthorised retrieval and/or re-use of its contents.

Sui generis rights form pecuniary rights and as such can be transferred, assigned or granted under contractual licence.

A lawful user may retrieve and re-use, without authorization, non-substantial parts of the contents of a database. However, he may not perform acts that unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the maker of the database or of a person providing the works or services contained therein.

The right to prevent the unauthorised retrieval of the contents of a database extends for a period of 15 years with effect from the date on which the creation of the database was terminated.

Protection against unauthorised retrieval or re-use is accorded to databases whose maker is a national, a company or an undertaking resident in or having his/its registered office, central administration or principal place of business in the Community.

Context

With the advent of the information society, the protection of databases assumes an increased importance, given that most services will soon be provided via an electronic database accessible either online or offline. Databases will also have a significant impact on the creation of new multimedia products. Databases should therefore be accorded an appropriate level of protection so as to create an attractive environment for investment while safeguarding users’ interests.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Directive 96/9/EC [adoption: codecision COD/1992/0393] 16.04.1996 01.01.1998 OJ L 77 of 27.03.1996

Related Acts

In December 2005 the European Commission published an at EU level. The aim of the evaluation was to assess the extent to which the policy goals of Directive 96/9/EC had been achieved and, in particular, whether the creation of a special sui generis right has had adverse effects on competition.
The evaluation finds that the economic impact of the sui generis right on database production is unproven. However, the European publishing industry, consulted in an online survey (August – September 2005) argued that this form of protection was crucial to the continued success of their activities. In addition, most respondents believed that the sui generis right has brought about legal certainty, reduced the costs associated with the protection of databases, created more business opportunities and facilitated the marketing of databases.

At present, the Commission should gather evidence of the usefulness of sui generis protection. Stakeholders are therefore invited to submit their opinions and provide further information on the economic repercussions of this type of protection.

Legal protection of services based on, or consisting of, conditional access

Legal protection of services based on, or consisting of, conditional access

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Legal protection of services based on, or consisting of, conditional access

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Internal market > Businesses in the internal market > Intellectual property

Legal protection of services based on, or consisting of, conditional access

ACT

European Parliament and Council Directive 98/84/EC of 20 November 1998 on the legal protection of services based on, or consisting of, conditional access.

SUMMARY

Scope

The proposal covers all services supplied on the basis of conditional * access, such as pay-television and pay-radio services, on-demand video and audio services, electronic publishing and a large range of on-line services that are available to the public on a subscription or pay-per-view basis.

Illicit activities

Each Member State is required to take the measures necessary to prohibit on its territory the following activities:

  • the manufacture, import, sale, renting or possession for commercial purposes of illicit devices, i.e. any equipment or software designed or adapted to give unauthorised access to a protected service *;
  • the installation, maintenance or replacement for commercial purposes of an illicit device;
  • the use of commercial communications to promote illicit devices.

Sanctions and remedies

Each Member State is required to take the measures necessary:

  • to provide sanctions which are effective, deterrent and proportional to the potential impact of the infringing activity;
  • to ensure that service providers whose interests are affected by an infringing activity carried out on its territory can bring an action for damages and seek an injunction and, where appropriate, apply for the seizure of illicit devices.

Principles relating to the internal market

Member States are not permitted:

  • to restrict the provision of protected services, or associated services, that originate in another Member State;
  • to restrict the free movement of conditional access devices, except those devices designated by the Directive as illicit.

Key terms used in the act

  • Protected service: television broadcasting, radio broadcasting or information society service provided against remuneration and on the basis of conditional access.
  • Conditional access: technical measure and arrangement whereby access to the protected service in an intelligible form is made conditional upon prior individual authorisation.

REFERENCES

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 98/84/CE [adoption: codecision COD/1997/0198]

28.11.1998

28.05.2000

OJ L 320 of 28.11.1998

RELATED ACTS

Second report of 30 September 2008 on the implementation of Directive 98/84/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 November 1998, on the legal protection of services based on, or consisting of, conditional access [COM(2008) 593 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

The Commission notes that the transposition of Directive 98/84/EC has allowed piracy to be reduced in the European Union, and particularly in countries where accession is recent. It underlines however two major difficulties: the lack of technical knowledge on the part of the authorities responsible for implementation, related in particular to fast developments in this field, and the low level of sanctions. The Commission insists moreover on the importance of allowing European citizens living in a Member State other than their State of origin to have access to a legal audiovisual offer in their native language, which would contribute to the free movement of persons and services.
The Commission proposes to set up an expert group on conditional access which will act to reinforce administrative cooperation between Member States and discuss problems related to the application of the Directive. The subjects to be tackled as priorities would be in particular: new forms of piracy, the deterrent nature of sanctions, the possible sanction on the possession of systems enabling access to services in an illicit way, links with provisions on copyright protection and the inclusion of digital rights management (DRM) in conditional access services.

Report from the Commission of 24 April 2003 on the implementation of Directive 98/84/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 November 1998 on the legal protection of services based on, and consisting of, conditional access [COM(2003) 198 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
This first Commission report on the implementation of Directive 98/84/EC is part of the Commission’s comprehensive Internal Market strategy to remove barriers to services.
It describes and analyses the salient facts relating to the key provisions of the Directive, looks at how these provisions are implemented and enforced by Member States and candidate countries, and highlights current trends in piracy.
It covers the period from adoption of the Directive in November 1998 through to the end of 2002.
The report shows that the implementation of the Directive has not yet been fully achieved within the enlarged Union, and stresses that enforcement at national level has to be consolidated and that joint efforts will be instrumental in fighting piracy effectively.
The report observes that pirating electronic pay services is considered to be a cyber crime. It concludes that it would be premature to propose amendments to the Directive, but that the consultations and assessment undertaken in the context of the Report have enabled the Commission to identify several issues that deserve further reflection. These issues include the need to create a balanced and coherent enforcement framework applicable to all kinds of piracy and counterfeiting and the distribution of keys and illicit devices via the Internet.

Legal protection: computer programs

Legal protection: computer programs

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Legal protection: computer programs

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Other

Legal protection: computer programs

This Directive aims to harmonise Member States’ legislation regarding the protection of computer programs in order to create a legal environment which will afford a degree of security against unauthorised reproduction of such programs

Document or Iniciative

Council Directive 91/250/EEC of 14 May 1991 on the legal protection of computer programs [See amending acts].

Summary

The Member States are obliged to protect computer programs, by copyright, as literary works within the meaning of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.

The ideas and principles which underlie any element of a computer program, including those which underlie its interfaces, are not protected by copyright.

A computer program is protected if it is original in the sense that it is the author’s own intellectual creation.

Who is the author of a computer program?

In general, the author of a computer program is the natural or legal person or group of natural persons who created it. Where collective works are recognised by the legislation of a Member State, the person considered by the legislation of that Member State to have created the work is deemed to be its author.

In the case of a program created by a group of natural persons, the exclusive rights are owned jointly. Where a computer program is created by an employee in the execution of his duties or following the instructions given by his employer, the employer alone will be entitled to exercise all economic rights in the program, unless otherwise provided for by contract.

Protection is accorded on the basis of residence, nationality and first publication as laid down by the relevant Member State.

Copyright

The exclusive rights of the author include the right to perform or to authorise:

  • the reproduction of a computer program;
  • the translation, adaptation, arrangement and other alteration of a computer program;
  • the distribution, including the rental, of a computer program or of copies thereof.

Exceptions

The Directive provides for certain exceptions regarding copyright, mainly for the following situations:

  • The making of a back-up copy by a person having a right to use the computer program may not be prevented by contract insofar as it is necessary for that use.
  • A person having a right to use a copy of a computer program is entitled to observe, study or test the functioning of the program in order to determine the ideas and principles which underlie any element of the program if he does so while performing any of the acts of loading, displaying, running, transmitting or storing the program which he is entitled to perform.

There is also provision for a derogation which would allow the decompilation of a program under certain limited conditions and with the aim of achieving the interoperability of an independently created computer program.

Special protection measures

Special protection measures will be taken against a person committing any of the acts listed below:

  • any act of putting into circulation a copy of a computer program knowing, or having reason to believe, that it is a pirated copy;
  • any possession for commercial purposes of a copy of a computer program knowing, or having reason to believe, that it is a pirated copy;
  • any act of putting into circulation or the possession for commercial purposes of any means with the intended purpose of facilitating the unauthorised removal or circumvention of any technical device which may have been applied to protect a computer program.

    Directive 91/250/EEC is repealed by Directive 2009/24/EC.

REFERENCES

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Directive 91/250/EEC

16.5.1991

1.1.1993

OJ L 122 of 17.5.1991

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Directive 93/98/EC

24.11.1993 – 15.1.2007

1.7.1995

OJ L 290 of 24.11.1993

Related Acts

Report dated 10 April 2000 from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee on the implementation and effects of Directive 91/250/EEC on the legal protection of computer programs [].
An evaluation of the Directive’s implementation in the Member States has shown that its objectives have been achieved and that its effect on the software sector has been satisfying. The Directive has improved the situation of the computer program sector in four ways: piracy has been reduced, employment has increased, there has been a switch to open systems and there has been a harmonisation as to computer programs created by employees.

Although only three Member States met the deadline for implementation, all have now adopted the laws, regulations and administrative provisions required at national level. However, the Commission may have to examine certain imperfections in greater depth.

The software industry is generally satisfied with the basic features of the system that has been put in place. However, some specific problems have been raised as regards the distribution right and communication to the public, back-up copies, remedies and the technical provisions. As regards sanctions, the industry considers it necessary to set up a database containing the standards and minimum procedures based on the TRIPS Agreement. The Commission considers that no amendment of the Directive is necessary at present but does not rule out the possibility of adjustment at a later stage.

The Commission is also planning measures under ongoing initiatives, such as the proposal on the Community patent and the Green Paper on combating counterfeiting and piracy.

Legal certainty: conversion rates and rounding rules

Legal certainty: conversion rates and rounding rules

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Legal certainty: conversion rates and rounding rules

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Economic and monetary affairs > Institutional and economic framework of the euro

Legal certainty: conversion rates and rounding rules

Document or Iniciative

Council Regulation (EC) No 1103/97 of 17 June 1997 on certain provisions relating to the introduction of the euro [Official Journal L 162 of 19.06.1997] [See amending acts].

Summary

The Regulation ensures legal certainty for contracts and other legal instruments when the euro is introduced. It sets out the rounding rules and conversion rates to be applied.

The Regulation uses the following definitions:

  • “legal instruments”: legislative and statutory provisions, acts of administration, judicial decisions, contracts, unilateral legal acts, payment instruments other than banknotes and coins, and other instruments with legal effect;
  • “participating Member States”: Member States which adopt the single currency in accordance with the Treaty;
  • “conversion rates”: the irrevocably fixed conversion rates which the Council adopts in accordance with the first sentence of Article 109l(4) of the Treaty or in accordance with paragraph 5 below;
  • “national currency units”: the units of the currencies of participating Member States, as those units are defined on the day before the start of the third stage of Economic and Monetary Union or, as the case may be, on the day before the euro is substituted for the currency of a Member State which adopts the euro at a later date;
  • “euro unit”: unit of the single currency as defined in the Regulation on the introduction of the euro, which will enter into force at the starting date of the third stage of Economic and Monetary Union.

Replacement of the ecu by the euro

Every reference in a legal instrument to the ecu is replaced by a reference to the euro at a rate of one to one.

It is presumed that contracts referring to the ecu without clearly defining it are intended to refer to the ecu as defined in Community law. European Heads of State and Government meeting at the Madrid European Council decided that the term ‘ecu’ used by the Treaty to refer to the European currency unit is a generic term and decided to name the single currency the ‘euro’.

Continuity of contracts

The introduction of the euro will not have the effect of altering the terms of a legal instrument or of discharging or excusing performance under a legal instrument; nor will it give a party the right unilaterally to alter or terminate such an instrument (continuity of contracts). The Regulation lays down the following provisions for conversion rates and rounding rules:

Conversion rates

The conversion rates, adopted as one euro expressed in terms of each of the national currencies of the participating Member States, will have six significant figures (not to be confused with six decimal points).

The conversion rates cannot be rounded or truncated when making conversions.

The conversion rates are used for conversions either way between the euro unit and the national currency units. Inverse rates derived from the conversion rates cannot be used.

Bilateral rates for conversion between national currency units are not defined directly. Monetary amounts to be converted from one national currency unit into another are first converted into a monetary amount expressed in euros. This amount must be rounded to at least three decimals and then converted into the other national currency unit.

Rounding rules

  • Monetary amounts in euros must, when a rounding takes place, be rounded up or down to the nearest cent.
  • Monetary amounts converted into a national currency unit must be rounded up or down to the nearest sub-unit or in the absence of a sub-unit to the nearest unit.
  • National law or practice is to be respected such that, in some countries, rounding may be to a multiple or fraction of the sub-unit or unit of the national currency.
  • If the application of the conversion rate gives a result which is exactly half-way, the sum is rounded up.

References

Act Entry into force – Date of expiry Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Regulation (EC) No 1103/97; 20.06.1997 OJ L 162 of 19.6.1997
Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Regulation (EC) No 2595/2000 01.01.2001 OJ L 300 of 29.11.2000

Legal aspects of electronic commerce

Legal aspects of electronic commerce

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Legal aspects of electronic commerce

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Internal market > Single market for services

Legal aspects of electronic commerce (Directive on electronic commerce)

Last updated: 05.01.2005