Copyright of harmonized standards confirmed

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In its judgment of 14 July 2021, the General Court of the European Union (EGC) ruled that harmonized European standards (hENs) enjoy copyright protection. The European Commission is not therefore obliged to provide access to harmonized standards free of charge.

Two non-profit organizations had brought legal action seeking provision by the European Commission of free access to four hENs. They referred in the action to the EGC's finding in the James Elliott judgment in 2016 that standards constitute a part of EU law, and that access to them must therefore be free and open. The court did not follow this argument and confirmed the copyright protection enjoyed by the European standards organizations.

In doing so, the court recognized that the sale of standards constituted a vital part of the commercial interests of CEN and the national standards organizations, and that free access to hENs would seriously jeopardize the production of further standards.

Link to the EGC's judment of 14 July 2021