Page last updated at 17:44 GMT, Monday, 13 February 2012

MEPs back intellectual property reform

A proposal to give the EU's Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM) responsibility for overseeing allegations of counterfeiting and piracy to try and reduce the costs and impacts on small businesses has been welcomed by MEPs.

Under the proposal, OHIM - based in Alicante - would have no legal powers but it would be a "centre of expertise" investigating various trends in counterfeiting.

Opening the debate on 13 February 2012, the Parliament's lead negotiator on the proposal, Spanish socialist MEP Antonio Masip Hidalgo, said it would bring together the private and public sector.

He added that it was time for a rethink on how copyright infringements were dealt with in the EU.

"Piracy isn't the right word. It is cheating. We need to call a spade a spade," he told the parliament.

The European Commission hopes that the changes to OHIM will promote innovation throughout the EU by reducing administrative costs and protecting small businesses.

British Conservative MEP Sajjad Karim warned that there needed to be a greater understanding of intellectual property, pointing out that the internet-based economy was worth almost 10% of a country's GDP.

The draft regulation was backed by 569 votes to 15 at the daily voting session on 14 February 2012.

Useful links:

Democracy Live's guide to how the plenary sessions work.

A disclaimer on the use of simultaneous interpretations, on the European Parliament's website.

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