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The Politicization Of The US Patent System

The Washington Post story, How patent reform’s fraught politics have left USPTO still without a boss (July 30), is a vivid account of how patent reform has divided the US economy, preempting a possible replacement for David Kappos who stepped down 18 months ago. The division is even bigger than portrayed. Universities have lined up en masse to oppose reform, while main street businesses that merely use technology argue for reform. Reminiscent of the partisan divide that has paralyzed US politics, this struggle crosses party lines and extends well beyond the usual inter-industry debates. Framed in terms of combating patent trolls through technical legal fixes, there lurks a broader economic concern – to what extent ordinary retailers, bank, restaurants, local banks, motels, realtors, and travel agents should bear the burden of defending against patents as a cost of doing business.


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    Changes Coming For Open Access To Research In Europe

    Published on 16 April 2012 @ 2:43 pm

    By for Intellectual Property Watch

    Pressure is growing in Europe for open, free access to research results, particularly if they are publicly funded. The European Commission (EC) said this week it will propose a plan for open access soon, while the Wellcome Trust and Research Councils UK are cracking down on researchers who don’t comply with their policies.

    Changes in the value chain enabled by the internet make sharing of scientific knowledge economically possible, European Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes said at an 11 April meeting of the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities in Rome. Open access (OA) should apply to all research at least partly funded by taxpayers, but that holds true for all scientific and scholarly research as well, she said.

    The EC is readying a communication and recommendation on the way forward on OA to research results, Kroes said. It will reflect the EC decision to make all outputs funded under the EU Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation program openly accessible, she said. The proposal will also examine the role of electronic infrastructures in supporting OA, and the how to motivate researchers to share, she said.

    There are limits to openness and costs associated with it, such as personal data protection, Kroes said. There may sometimes be security reasons for not disseminating research widely, and private investments to defend. “But for me, these are exceptions, not the rule,” she said. A model that dates back hundreds of years is not right for the Internet age, she said. Subscription-based access models should not continue to dominate in an era where distribution costs approach zero, she said. She urged researchers, investors and policy-makers to “tear down the walls that keep learning sealed off.”

    Pockets of Opposition

    The only clear foes of open access are some major scientific publishers who believe their “raw material” may dry up and their subscription revenues from non-open access journals fall once libraries need fewer subscriptions, said Kroes spokesman Ryan Heath. The European Publishers Council doesn’t have a formal policy on OA, which is a business model issue for individual publishers, said Executive Director Angela Mills Wade.

    The main challenge the EC faces is to ensure that publicly funded research results “actually get deposited in OA repositories by the authors,” Heath told Intellectual Property Watch. Best practices include funders such as the Wellcome Trust, and institution mandates such as the University of Liege, which require deposit and will only take into account deposited research for performance reviews, he said.

    But there is also the problem of getting publishers to offer “transition paths,” such as the opportunity to make individual articles in a journal open access via a one-time, up-front payment, Heath said. This is called a hybrid model because other articles in the same journal may stay non-OA, he said. If double-dipping – charging full subscription prices and up-front charges for the OA articles – is avoided, then the hybrid model can “offer a glide path” from a subscription-only to an OA-only scenario without necessarily affecting a publisher’s viability, he said.

    In the area of scientific data, as opposed to articles, there are no entrenched business models or positions yet, Heath said. The public sector is taking the lead in making the information available and it “can be a win-win situation with publishers,” he said. They have an interest in seeing that the data underlying the articles they publish is available, curated and preserved, he said. The EC will pilot a project that asks funded researchers to make their data open access in fields where that is appropriate, he said.

    eLife Journal Coming

    The UK-based Wellcome Trust is preparing to launch a new digital journal, eLife, which it says will serve as a platform for speeding scientific advancement by making results available as quickly as possible, openly and in a way that helps other build upon them.

    Last year, the trust published an open access policy under which authors of research papers it funds must maximise the opportunities to make their results available for free. The policy requires electronic copies of any research papers that have been accepted in a peer-reviewed journal, and are supported in whole or part by the trust, to be made available as soon as possible and, in any case, within six months of the journal publishers’ official date of final publication.

    The trust said it will give grant-holders additional money, through their institutions, to cover OA charges in order to meet its requirements. The policy encourages, and, where it pays an open access fee, requires, authors and publishers to licence research papers so they can be freely copied and re-used, provided such uses are fully attributed.

    The trust is also bearing down on scientists it funds to make sure they comply with the requirement to make their results publicly available for free within six months, Director Mark Walport said in a 9 April interview with The Guardian.

    Currently only about 55 percent of research papers to which the trust’s funding contributes are compliant, Head of Digital Services Robert Kiley and Policy Advisor Dave Carr told Intellectual Property Watch in written comments. “It is simply not acceptable to us that nearly half of the publications we fund are blocked behind subscription walls,” they said. Proportionate sanctions are needed to ensure that trust-funded researchers and their institutions take responsibility for making their published research findings freely available in a way that guarantees the greatest possible benefit, they said. The trust recognises that some researchers face legitimate difficulties in complying, and will continue to help them address the issues, they said.

    Possible new approaches might include a requirement that institutions officially confirm that all publications associated with a grant had been made OA before the final instalment is paid, Kiley and Carr said. Another might be to make future funding conditional on compliance, they said. Under that scenario, the trust would make actual receipt of any additional grant funding (for renewals or new awards) dependent on compliance for previous grants, they said. The new processes are expected to be in place by the autumn.

    RCUK Draft Policy under Discussion

    Meanwhile, Research Councils UK (RCUK) continues to seek feedback on proposed revisions to its policy on access to research outputs, spokeswoman Jane Wakefield said.

    The councils are part of a national working group on expanding access to published research findings, which is expected to propose a plan of action and make recommendations to the governments and others, according to the draft.

    In the proposed policy, open access means unrestricted, online access to peer-reviewed and published scholarly research papers. Users must be able to read those papers in an electronic format and search for and re-use content (subject to proper attribution) at no charge, the draft said.

    Under the changes, open access will include unrestricted use of manual and automated text and data mining tools, and unlimited reuse of content with proper attribution, the RCUK said. The policy will require that research papers paid for by the councils be published in journals that meet their open access standards.

    In addition, it said, it won’t support researchers who use publishers who embargo papers for more than six months from date of publication (12 months for research paid for by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council). The revised policy is expected to be approved this summer, according to the draft.

    Dugie Standeford may be reached at info@ip-watch.ch.

     

    Comments

    1. Most-Read IP-Watch Stories Of 2012: India Pharma, Europe, ACTA, WIPO Technical Assistance, Gene Patents | Intellectual Property Watch says:

      [...] Changes Coming For Open Access To Research In Europe http://www.ip-watch.org/2012/04/16/changes-coming-for-open-access-to-research-in-europe/ [...]


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    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website. By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website.

    By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    1. You agree that you are fully responsible for the content that you post. You will not knowingly post content that violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property right of any third party or which you know is under a confidentiality obligation preventing its publication and that you will request removal of the same should you discover that you have violated this provision. Likewise, you may not post content that is libelous, defamatory, obscene, abusive, that violates a third party's right to privacy, that otherwise violates any applicable local, state, national or international law, that amounts to spamming or that is otherwise inappropriate. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence are also prohibited. Furthermore, you may not impersonate others.

    2. You understand and agree that Intellectual Property Watch is not responsible for any content posted by you or third parties. You further understand that IP Watch does not monitor the content posted. Nevertheless, IP Watch may monitor the any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove, edit or otherwise alter content that it deems inappropriate for any reason whatever without consent nor notice. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on our site. IP Watch is not in any manner endorsing the content of the discussion forums and cannot and will not vouch for its reliability or otherwise accept liability for it.

    3. By submitting any contribution to IP Watch, you warrant that your contribution is your own original work and that you have the right to make it available to IP Watch for all purposes and you agree to indemnify IP Watch, its directors, employees and agents against all damages, legal fees and others expenses that may be incurred by IP Watch as a result of your breach of warranty or of these terms.

    4. You further agree not to publish any personal information about yourself or anyone else (for example telephone number or home address). If you add a comment to a blog, be aware that your email address will be apparent.

    5. IP Watch will not be liable for any loss including but not limited to the following (whether such losses are foreseen, known or otherwise): loss of data, loss of revenue or anticipated profit, loss of business, loss of opportunity, loss of goodwill or injury to reputation, losses suffered by third parties, any indirect, consequential or exemplary damages.

    6. You understand and agree that the discussion forums are to be used only for non-commercial purposes. You may not solicit funds, promote commercial entities or otherwise engage in commercial activity in our discussion forums.

    7. You acknowledge and agree that you use and/or rely on any information obtained through the discussion forums at your own risk.

    8. For any content that you post, you hereby grant to IP Watch the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, exclusive and fully sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part, world-wide and to incorporate it in other works, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

    9. These terms and your posts and contributions shall be governed and interpreted in accordance with the laws of Switzerland (without giving effect to conflict of laws principles thereof) and any dispute exclusively settled by the Courts of the Canton of Geneva.

     

     
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