In its recast of the Public Access to Documents implementation the Commission proposed a remarkable change to Article 4 (exemptions), paragraph 2:
2. The institutions shall refuse access to a document where disclosure would undermine the protection of:
(a) commercial interests of a natural or legal
; including intellectual property,
(b) intellectual property rights;
It is quite important to get the legal difference of what appears to be an editorial fix, and how it limits access to documents. Right now Commercial Interests are overriding transparency (commercial interests include IP), in the future we would get a new broad standalone item (protection of) “IPR” which would comprise moral rights. I was wondering what the specific reason for this dramatic change was. In a Council document we get the explanaition why former Commissioner Margot Wallström introduced that to COM(2008) 229:
“Cion. explained that the provision concerning the protection of “commercial interests” and “intellectual property” had been split into two separate exceptions for the following reasons: As set out in Article 4 (4) of the recasting proposal (see below), the public interest in disclosure of information concerning emissions into the environment overrides by definition the protection of commercial interests, but not necessarily the protection of intellectual property rights. This means in practice, that there is no need for a balancing of interests, in as far as the principle laid down in Article 4 (4) second sentence applies, whereas such a balancing should be made, where disclosure could harm the protection of intellectual property rights or other interests to be protected under Article 4 (2) and 4 (3).”
In other words, they created a broader IPR exemption to transparency to make it more difficult to obtain information and found that IPR as an argument could be easier applied to deny access to documents. I wonder why Parliament under its rapporteur MEP Michael Cashman did not attempt to revert it.