European Conference Promotes Use Of Standards As A Tool For Innovation 12/11/2014 by Magda Voltolini for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)BRUSSELS – European experts in research, industry and policymaking at a recent conference here discussed the importance of integrating standards, research and business into the cycle of innovation in Europe. On 30 October, the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) and the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation (CENELEC), with the support of the European Commission and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), organised the conference, entitled, “Standards: Your Innovation Bridge.” A result of a busy conference on IP and standards In a session on standards and intellectual property rights titled, “Are Standards and Patents Mutually Exclusive?” Tim Pohlmann, CEO and co-founder of IPlytics presented an innovative technology management tool that he started developing while doing his PhD. Today, IPlytics offers a solution that supports firms investing in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector such as Qualcomm, Bosch or Philips. IPlytics’ interface enables the mapping of the economic landscape of patented technologies and standardisation systems in relation to innovation. It includes, for instance, the analyses of 80 million patent documents from 47 intellectual property offices, 1.5 million standard-setting documents from around 900 standard-setting organisations, 60 million scientific publications, 160,000 product descriptions from 60,000 companies and 2,000 industry alliance descriptions. According to Pohlmann, IPlytics analyses provide an accurate management of intellectual property rights so that firms are able “to focus their R&D expenditures, save costs and leverage their IPRs.” In other words, private sector players assess whether an innovation is free of third parties’ intellectual property rights strategically. With respect to the licensing of standard-essential patents (SEPs), Pohlmann stated that fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms should remain flexible and disputes should be settled in court. With regard to the European Public Consultation on Patents and Standards,” he told Intellectual Property Watch his perspective on the licensing of SEPs, which is: “The amount of specific FRAND royalties should not be discussed within standard-setting organisations (SSOs) but in licensing negotiations between patent owners. However, standards organisations should more specifically describe the conditions of FRAND commitments in their IPR policies.” Furthermore, the legislation of different countries should harmonise how SEPs can be enforced, e.g., by defining how to handle reciprocity, injunctions, or the handling of FRAND commitments in cases of a SEP ownership transfer. A harmonised legal system decreases legal uncertainty or forum shopping activities and would as a consequence foster innovation. Pohlmann provided three studies: Tim Pohlmann and Knut Blind (2014): The Interplay of Patents and Standards for ICT in: PIK, Issue 37, Nr. 3, pp. 189–195, September 2014. Tim Pohlmann and Knut Blind (2013): Trends in the Interplay of IPR and Standards in: les Nouvelles, pages 177-181, September 2013. Justus Baron and Tim Pohlmann (2013): Who cooperates in standards consortia – rivals or complementors? in: Journal of Competition Law and Economics, 9 (4), pp. 905-929. 2013. In the same session, Ged Owens, coordinator for public policy issues at the European Patent Office (EPO), began his presentation by highlighting the EPO’s mission, namely, to “support innovation, competitiveness and economic growth across Europe.” His perspective focused on the synergy between patents and standards, “particularly relevant to the fruits of research and development activities,” and on the EPO patent application/grant procedures associated with standards. Owens an example of “the 7 billion mobile device registrations in the world, serving both the needs of a global public, and generating revenue of billions of euros per annum.” Against this background, he said that “more than 10,000 families of standard essential patents (SEPs) had been declared as relevant to standards at the European Telecommunications Standard Institute (ETSI).” ETSI is the official European standardisation body serving the field of information and telecommunication technologies, which stipulates intellectual property rights policies for its standards in compliance with European rules. With regard to the interface of patents and standards, Owens held that while “patents promote investment in R&D, and support follow-up innovation through disclosure of new technologies, standards maximise diffusion and interoperability.” He mentioned that smart phones require interoperability and stressed the fact that “across different mobile phone types, different networks and countries, while the latest technology required for performance and functionality reasons is inevitably patented.” As to patent application/grant procedures associated with standards, he highlighted the importance of the “non-disclosure” of a novel invention. This refers to the idea that new invention information must not be disclosed before the filing of a patent application. “Innovative enterprises interested in standards must file patent applications before disclosing their potential inventions in the standardisation development process, otherwise disclosure could prevent them getting a patent later as the knowledge would be considered to be already in the public domain,” he explained. Concerning EPO’s role in maintaining a high quality of granted patents related to standards, he added that the EPO includes standards-related documentation in “prior-art” searches to ensure patents are only granted if inventions are genuinely novel and inventive. Such EPO procedures prevent “subject-matter previously disclosed” in SSO meetings being subsequently patented by non-inventors. Considering this problem, Owens also cited the existing memoranda of understanding between the EPO and various SSOs. According to him, such agreements serve two functions, “firstly to ensure EPO access to this important “prior art” documentation, and secondly to clarify its status as “non-confidential”. The EPO has concluded agreements with ETSI, International Telecommunication Union (ITU), International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Standards Association (IEEE-SA), as well as “numerous smaller standardisation bodies.” Owens concluded that “patents and standards are becoming important in an increasingly wide range of areas, as information and computing technologies are more and more incorporated in many traditional technology areas, resulting in smart grids, smart transport, buildings and cities, e-health and so on.” “This results,” he said, “in more responsive systems and a more efficient, more sustainable use of resources.” Image Credits: Magda Voltolini Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Magda Voltolini may be reached at email@example.com."European Conference Promotes Use Of Standards As A Tool For Innovation" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.