September 27, 2021

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IP Perception Study/Survey 2020 by EUIPO

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This article has been written by Ashutosh Singh, a student at Amity Law School, Amity University Kolkata. The article explains the findings of the IP Perception study carried out by EUIPO.

Table of Contents

Europeans now are twice as willing to say that intellectual property supports artists and creators as they were ready to do a few years back. This shows the importance of raising awareness of the value of intellectual property to the common citizen.

Christian Archambeau, the Executive Director of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), is quoted to have said that “the more people understand intellectual property, the less likely they will infringe it”. The EUIPO was founded in 1994. It is the EU Agency responsible for the registration of the European Union trademark. The EUIPO has its headquarters in Alicante, Spain. It was known earlier as the ‘Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM)

OHIM underwent some reforms and in the process, its office, several positions, and the governing board were renamed to reflect these changes. OHIM was named EUIPO, its current name since March 2016. The head of the agency was earlier a President but the EUIPO has an Executive Director now. EUIPO has conducted 3 studies/surveys up till now and they have been carried out on IP perception in 2013, 2017, and 2020.

This article aims at explaining and analyzing the parameters of the EUIPO survey carried out in 2020, which was conducted with 25 636 EU residents aged 15 and above in 2020. The questionnaire was not very different from the previous study of 2017. It was kept similar to allow for comparable results. However, modifications were integrated into the questionnaire to further explore relationships between perception and behavior. Let us understand the trends and awareness of people about IPR and their rights through the results of this survey.

The EUIPO has been hosting the European Observatory on the Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights since 2012. It brings the public and private stakeholders together to fight against counterfeiting and piracy.

Functions

The registration of the EU trademark and managing the Registered Community Design is handled by the office of the European Union Agency. The agency offers the citizens exclusive rights and business for trademark and design protection all over the EU, only through a single application. The EU agency work is not only limited to registration but it is to create synchronization practicing registration of trademark and design and it would help in the development of common IP management tools.

The work is carried and coordinated with the help of national and regional IP offices which incorporate together throughout the EU. The objective of the institutional partners and associations is to offer the users of the trademark and design system similar registration experiences, at both EU or national levels.

Legal background establishing the EUIPO

The Council of the European Union adopted the regulation for establishing the EUIPO in December 1993 and revised it twice, in 2009 and in 2015. It created the EU trademark (in the past it was known as the Community trademark) as a legal instrument in European Union law and established the EUIPO which was formerly known as the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market or OHIM, as an EU agency with legal, administrative and financial autonomy.

The Registered Community Design was created by Council Regulation (EC) No 6/2002 on 12 December 2001. Upon the entry into force of Regulation 32015/2424, the Office changed its name to the European Union Intellectual Property Office, on 23 March 2016. 

The Design Europa Awards

Every two years the EUIPO organizes the Design Europa Awards, to celebrate excellence in design, and design management among the Registered Community Design (RCD) holders. This could include individual rights holders, small businesses, or large enterprises. In 2016, the first edition of the awards took place in Milan.

The first-ever EU-wide study/survey on how EU citizens perceive IP was conducted in November 2013. It sought to look for answers for questions such as:

  • What the EU citizens think of intellectual property. 
  • Understand the EU citizens’ perception about the benefits of IP.
  • To ascertain if their IP views often affect their behavior when they shop or when they go online. 
  • Understand if their place of residence or age is a factor affecting their IP perception.

The study/survey was called, ‘European Citizens and IP: Perceptions, Awareness, and Behaviour’. It formed a vital part of the research and analysis carried out by the EUIPO, through their observatory. The survey had questions designed to find out what EU citizens knew about the topic as a whole and how the views and attitudes they believed in affected their behaviors when making choices related to IP. Needless to say that it was the first study of its kind to understand IP perception. 

The second study was published in March 2017. Since the first version came 4 years back, to build on that the second version of the study had twenty percent of all the questions which were brand new. The results of both the years were compared against the results of the 2013 study to chalk out an accurate difference on how views had evolved through both the studies. 

Nearly 26,000 interviews were carried out with EU citizens who were aged 15 and above. Deloitte had commissioned the survey by the European Union Intellectual Property Office. The survey had covered the population of the EU Member States and their residents who were aged 15 years and above. Overall, 1000 per Member State in 25 Member States and 500 per Member State in 3 Member States (Luxembourg, Cyprus, Malta).

General perceptions

The general perception of the people in the study is that about 97% of the respondents are certain that creators, inventors, and performing artists can protect their rights and also be paid for the work they do. About 70% of the people believe that nothing can justify the purchase of counterfeit goods and 78% of the people believe that buying counterfeits could ruin jobs and businesses.

Individual perceptions

About 7% of the EU population had bought counterfeit goods over the last 12 months. This figure had risen to about 15 percent and was seen in people who were aged between 15–24-years.

About 10% of the EU population had accessed content from illegal sources on purpose. This figure too had risen to about 27% in people who were aged between 15–24 years. About 27% of the people in the EU had paid for the content from legal services in the past 12 months. This figure had also risen to about 41% and was seen among people who were aged between 15–24 years.

Between 1st June and 6th July 2020, the survey was conducted in 27 EU member states. The main target population was people who were aged 15 and above. About 25, 636 interviews had been conducted across 27 countries and about 1000 interviews had been conducted in 24 out of the 27 countries which were surveyed. In Cyprus, Luxembourg, and Malta, a minimum of 500 respondents had been interviewed.

The report complements the study of “Intellectual Property Rights intensive industries: contribution to economic performance and employment in the EU”, which had been commissioned by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and done through the European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property. Edelman Berland delivered and carried out this report. He is a strategic researcher and has a consulting firm that specializes in public opinion evaluation and stakeholder perceptions.

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How the survey was conducted

Between December 2012 and August 2013, the research took place and it covered the 28 member states of the European Union. It had been made up of three phases:

  • Literature review- The literature review had analyzed the appropriate studies and publications on the subject from the last five years of the study.
  • Qualitative investigation- The qualitative stage was carried out for more than 100 hours having a discussion with 250 Europeans who were aged between 15 and above 65 years. Focus groups were created and detailed interviews were held in a selection of nine Member States: France, Croatia, Italy, Lithuania, Germany, Poland, UK, Spain, and Sweden. 
  • Quantitative stage- About 26,500 Europeans spoke and gave their views in the questionnaire which was carried out through telephone in the quantitative process.  

It is an exclusive roadmap for all the EU countries when it comes to dealing with piracy attitudes, counterfeiting, and behaviors. In the third edition, the study shows a gradual but positive change in the understanding and attitudes of the people, this is in regard to the following previous surveys by the EUIPO in 2013 and 2017. 

  • The EU-wide study of the previous edition had confirmed that the majority of the citizens agree that those people who invest money and time in innovation have their rights protected and get paid for their work. 
  • In the 2020 study, there has been a huge increase in respect for the creators and artists. People are now slowly telling that they have a better understanding of IP rights, which is a vital finding in the study.
  • There has been a slight drop from 7% to 5% for intentional purchase of counterfeits and from 10% to 8% for intentional piracy. The young population of the EU is the biggest group that continues to download illegally and buy imitations, which shows that there is a lot of work that needs to be done, especially since this group is the heaviest user of the internet. At the same time the trend to perceive the purchase of counterfeits as harmful to people’s image continues to rise – up from 12% to 17% in the current study. 
  • The survey did not have questions to ascertain why counterfeits are now perceived more negatively but this trend is more than likely to be reinforced by the public backlash against fake medicines and personal protective equipment during the current pandemic (Covid-19) crisis
  • Illegal downloads are not so popular anymore, people are now more willing to pay for legal content which is available at a reasonable price. This change is linked to the increase in the availability of legal sources. Since the quality and diversity have improved, people have started to pay more for legal content. The people now are often checking whether the sites they use are legal or not. 
  • These trends and the reasons behind them, need to be closely studied and updated and the 2020 report will continue to be an important resource for researchers, IP professionals, and policymakers alike. 

General perceptions

The trend question

In your opinion, who benefits the most from the protection of intellectual property? 

Findings

  1. Less IP infringement is likely to occur if more people understand intellectual property. 
  2. There is about a 100% increase that can be seen where people think that intellectual property benefits creators, artists, and other people. 
  3. A decline was seen in intellectual property infringements from 7% in 2017 to 5% in 2020 which was related to people purchasing counterfeits. Another decline was seen from 10% in 2017 to 8% in 2020 for intentional piracy.
  4. The young people who are more prone to buying counterfeit goods or getting access to pirated material are also the majority of internet users of all the groups that were surveyed. 

Summary

Understanding an intellectual property concept is quite elevating. The people who do not infringe IP rights are likely to better understand the subject rather than the people who are engaged in the behavior of infringing IP rights.

Counterfeiting

The trend question

During the past 12 months, which of the following have you done? – Bought counterfeit products intentionally/unintentionally. 

Findings

  1. A decrease was seen of 1% from 10% in 2017 to 9% in 2020 of those people who were misled into buying counterfeit goods. 
  2. A decrease was also seen from 37% in 2017 to 33% in 2020 in those people who wondered whether the product they bought was original or not. 
  3. An increase was seen from 12% in 2017 to 17% in 2020 in those people who thought that buying counterfeit products could cause harm to their image.

Summary

When the survey of 2020 took place, it was seen that for the first time people had given the answer that they did not buy counterfeit goods purposely in the last 12 months because there was the availability of affordable original products.

Piracy

The trend question

Please tell if you agree/tend to agree, disagree/tend to disagree with the following statements: 

  • In the case of affordable legal options available, I would prefer to access/download/stream content through authorized platforms and not access/download/stream illegally.
  • What can be found through illegal offers is not as diverse as the content offered by legal services.
  • Legal solutions offer a better quality content than what can be found through illegal solutions.

Findings 

  1. There is an increase of about 69% from 25% in 2017 to 42% in 2020 since the last study took place where people were willing to pay for the content.
  2.  It was also seen that there has been an increase from 14% in 2017 to 20% in 2020 in the people who are researching in detail as to whether the websites offer legal content or not.

Summary

No matter the type of online content, awareness of legal offers was significantly higher in 2020 compared to 3 years ago. The preference to choose a legal source grows when those legal options are affordable. Furthermore, both the diversity and quality of the content offered on legal services is viewed as superior on a gradual basis to that which is found on illegal sources. About 2/3rd people in Europe know that there is an availability of legal offers for three categories of content online they are music, TV series and films. The younger population of Europe are the ones who know the most about legal offers for TV series, films, music and video games. 

The trend question

During the past 12 months, which of the following have you done? – Paid to access, download or stream copyright-protected content (for instance music, video, film or TV series) from a legal service on the internet.

Findings

  1. About 48 % of the people who haven’t used illegal sources to download online content have not downloaded it because there is the availability of a lot of affordable content from legal sources. 
  2. There are about 48% of people who understand that when IP infringement takes place it harms the writers, musicians, creators and artists. 
  3. About 1 out of 10 Europeans admitted to using pirated online content purposely in the past 12 months, this figure was slightly below when reported in 2017 and 2013. 
  4.  The confusion regarding what a legal or illegal source is, still remains steady but there is a rise to find out whether sources are legal or not. 

Summary

The main push for users who report that they haven’t accessed digital content through illegal services is because they have the availability of affordable content from legal sources online. The evidence regarding this trend is shown towards the rise in the use of legal online sources and the preferences for these legal sources.

The protection value of IP is recognised throughout Europe. About 98% of the people feel that it is important that creators, artists and inventors can protect their rights and also get paid for the work they do. On the same issue in the previous study, it was about 97%. The economic stability in IP remains the same with about 73% and the people agree that if there is no IP protection then economic chaos can take place. Most people believe that counterfeits hurt the economy and harm jobs and businesses. The European population knows that counterfeit goods harm the health and safety of the economy. The number of people who accept using illegal sources to download and access digital content for personal use is reducing at a very fast pace, but there is still a certain number of people who still believe that it is acceptable to them, if there is no legal alternative to this issue. About 96% of the European population believes that IP is important because it supports creativity and innovation by rewarding the creators, artists and inventors. 

A majority of the people believe and value the fact that IP contributes to the creation of jobs and economic well-being. Finally, it appears that the European citizens are largely favourable towards IPR. The details emerging from the report of 2020, will help stakeholders at the national level to combat IP crime and provide a benchmark shaping future public awareness strategies for the EUIPO and in the EU generally.


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