EPO Report Prompts Debate On New Models For IP System 23/04/2007 by Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen 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)By Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen MUNICH – The launch of a new European Patent Office (EPO) report on the future of the intellectual property system prompted debate at a recent meeting regarding new ways of thinking about patenting and sharing of information in the future. The EPO report, Scenarios for the Future, was issued at an 18-19 April meeting in Munich of the EPO and the European Commission. The report is based on interviews with some 150 experts in the IP field who raised key questions on issues that will have bearing on the IP system in the future. In discussions of the report and future IP challenges, open source became a hot topic, important both to those with a patent-friendly view and to those favouring less patenting. [Editor’s Note: The EPO said there are no plans yet to provide an online link to the report, but said this might change in the future.] Ged Davis, former managing director of the World Economic Forum in Geneva and now co-president of the Global Energy Assessment, an international energy initiative, said that while the 19th and 20th centuries were marked by the lone inventor and his protection, the 21st century would be marked by building a capacity to protect by collaborative endeavour, referring to global challenges such as access to fresh water, changes in agriculture and pandemics. “Shared knowledge will be central to development in the 21st century,” he said. Representatives from the companies IBM and Philips told Intellectual Property Watch that industry is moving more towards open source (in which underlying knowledge is accessible to all), but open source and intellectual property right models were not mutually exclusive. IP rights are necessary for the open source system to work, they said, adding that a company licensing subject matter would have to abide by copyright, for example. If companies provide a software programme for free, they earn money from licensing related technologies or solutions, and defending these rights. One of them said open source was like a free highway where the revenues were generated by other means, such as fees or toll booths. Jari Kuusisto, director of technology at SC-Research in Finland, told Intellectual Property Watch that one of its studies had found that many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are actually not patenting much but rather using “informal IP protection,” such as contracts, secrecy or networking. This is particularly the case as a majority of them deal with service-related innovation such as technologies like the Internet, delivery channels like ATMs (cash machines), or business models, to which traditional patents do not apply. Kuusisto is member of a team led by former United Kingdom Patent Office head Ron Marchant that is working on a report on SMEs for the European Commission, to be ready by the summer, Kuusisto said. The Marchant report was also discussed at the meeting. http://oami.europa.eu/en/office/events/pdf/Patinnova_programme.pdf Sisule Musungu, Geneva-based IP researcher, said that it is not realistic to say that the international patent community of some 50,000 people will control the future patent system, saying that at the meeting, there had been a notion of “seen it all, know it all” among the audience of mainly industry and lawyers. He predicted a lot of people “outside this room will help shape the system.” He also said if the EPO did not continue the work discussed in the report, it could end up gaining the least from the Scenarios project. Ingrid Schneider of the University of Hamburg (Germany) said the challenge now is to find new limits to the patent system, and this should be done by legislators as they had done in the European Biotechnology Directive, which failed in 1995 but was adopted later (Directive 98/44/EC) with amendments. At the end of the meeting, EPO President Alain Pompidou handed the report over to the EPO president-elect, Alison Brimelow. She said it is “safe in my hands,” and that she would deliver on the promises of being engaged in the debate when she takes over in July. [For more on the report, see: IPW, European Policy, 18 April 2001]. Tove Gerhardsen may be reached at email@example.com. 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 "EPO Report Prompts Debate On New Models For IP System" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.