Brussels, 4 May 2007 -- Over thirty renowned international speakers assemble on 15 and 16 May in Brussels' Metropole Hotel to discuss the future of the European Patent System. Among the topics being discussed are the recently published plans of the EU Commission for a new European patent system, and recent important decisions in the US Supreme Court, and new data and research from the USA about the impact of the patent system on the high-tech sector.
FFII President Pieter Hintjens, who launched the EUPACO forum, explains: "everyone agrees that patents can have a big economic impact. Everyone agrees that getting the patent system 'right' is essential to Europe's growth and prosperity. So we're very happy to see so many important experts in the patent system stepping forwards to take part in this forum."
Journalists, and staff of the European institutions, are invited to attend the conference for free.
Joff Wild, editor of IAM Magazine, usually a critic of the FFII's policies, sums up his view of the EUPACO-2 event:
"When you are face-to-face and talking it is much harder to maintain entrenched positions and to ignore what other people are saying. It is hugely encouraging to see that representatives from industry, the FFII, the EPO and national patent offices, and the Commission will be sharing platforms at this event. The FFII deserves to be congratulated for this initiative which, hopefully, will get the support it deserves."
The conference will take place on 15 and 16 May 2007, at the Metropole Hotel in Brussels. An online registration form and more information can be found at http://www.eupaco.org/
Comments on the conference from key participants
Dr Brian Kahin, CCIA and University of Michigan, who is on the EUPACO Programme Committee, says:
"To advance, patent policy must move beyond ideological debates and political maneuvering. In line with the ideals and expectations of democratic governance, it must be institutionalized in a form that fits within the larger policy framework of promoting knowledge, innovation, and economic growth across Europe – and around the world. If Europe succeeds in this enterprise, it can provide legimate international leadership based on best practice – not just self-interest and economic clout. This requires policy development that is evidence-based, sensitive to the range of technological and business conditions, and oriented to produce optimal results.
"EUPACO is a forum for exploring and debating these issues. It brings the diverse stakeholder and disciplinary perspectives needed to test new ideas and thinking about the future of the patent system – and an opportunity for European leadership on issues that are very heart of the knowledge economy."
Prof. John Duffy, George Washington University, also speaking at EUPACO-2, will be comparing the proposed single European patent courts with a similar court system already in place in the US:
"I'm interested in the construction of well-designed public institutions for governing the patent system. A quarter century ago, the United States undertook an important experiment by restructuring the country's judicial process for adjudicating patent disputes: A significant portion of judicial decision-making for patent cases was centralized in a single specialized court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The experiment with this high degree of centralization has not been an unqualified success.
"At the EUPACO-2 conference, I plan to present a paper, co-authored with Professor Craig Nard, that details the dangers of excessive centralization and need to seek not complete, but rather an optimal degree of centralization and uniformity. My co-author and I hope that, as Europe moves toward greater centralization of its public institutions governing the patent system, it can learn from the United States' experiment with a highly centralized patent court."
David Martin, CEO of M-CAM, will be presenting data on the costs and benefits of patents:
"As the global fusion economy continues to evolve, assumptions underpinning industrial and intellectual property rights need to be assessed to test their adaptability for use today. In an era of unprecedented capability for multi-stakeholder competition or cooperation, EUPACO serves as an ideal forum to review the consequences for past policy and emerge a resilient model for future development and growth."
Ron Marchant, former Chief Executive, UK Patent Office, is a keynote speaker at EUPACO-2:
"It is 30 years since the EPO was founded. Things have come a long way since then and neither the context nor the objectives are the same as they were then. Within Europe the simplification of the system is both more important than ever and perhaps looking as unattainable as ever. But Europe is only part of the global economy; the wider world has also not stood still and thus further challenges for Europe are created. EUPACO will provide a major forum for a critical look at the issues, a platform for proposings ways forward, and a way of bringing together major players. Europe needs a better patent system, especially if it is to unlock the potential of its myriad SMEs. I am looking to this conference to find some of the answers."
Prof. Beth Noveck, Peer-to-Patent Project, New York Law School, will be addressing the issue of low-quality patents:
"EUPACO takes seriously the idea that patents are at the center of a global economy and that we need to improve the quality of patents and the opportunity for innovation. We need a more open patent system with greater accountability by patent offices to the scientific public and input by the scientific public to improve decision-making by patent offices. Hence I am coming to talk to the thought-leaders and innovators who want, not only to discuss, but take action to explore how we can improve our patent institutions and make them a driver for economic opportunity and scientific growth."
Amédee Turner, Queen's Counsel, Honorary Member of the European Parliament, is making the case for mandatory patent litigation insurance:
"I hope practical interest in insurance for patent litigation will be aroused, and that this should be seen in the light of greater fairness in the practical working of the patent system in Europe."
Prof. Lee Hollaar, University of Utah, is proposing a new type of patent-like protection that is fast, cheap, and narrow:
"I'm proposing a new, limited patent-like protection. It combines the disclosure and claiming requirements of patents, so that the current database of patented technology can be substantially expanded, with copyright's infringement defense of independent creation. Because protection comes into being only when a registered innovation is actually used in commerce, many of the problems with "patent trolls" are eliminated. And providing such an alternative would allow more substantial examination of regular patents through greatly increased application fees and more stringent requirements. The protection is particular suitable for software developers who have created new techniques. Without such protection, there is no way for an open-source software developer to keep those who don't want to share with the community from using their new technique."
Francis Hagel, Intellectual Property Manager of CGGVeritas, will be looking at the quality issue:
"EUPACO is a welcome forum to clarify the issues the European patent system has to address, and to reflect on possible changes. The diversity of the speakers guarantees that the implications for all stakeholders will be analysed. Current developments in the US of major significance (patent reform bills, KSR vs. Teleflex decision of the Supreme Court) will no doubt be food for thought in our discussions. The quality of patents is a critical issue. As an industrial user of the system, and by "user" I mean both applicant/patentee and third party, I would like to share thoughts based on experience as to key ingredients of a user-friendly and properly balanced European patent system, and thus help in the assessment of any proposal for change."
Benoit Battistelli, French IP Commissioner and Director General, INPI will be speaking about how a future European patent system could be built:
"Two challenges are facing the European Patent System. One is patent quality: EPO achieved an excellent standard for granted patents – presently the highest in the world. How can quality be maintained with the increase of patent filings as a consequence of globalization (especially from developing countries such as China and India)? The other challenge is the implementation of a unified patent litigation system in Europe in order to complete the centralised granting procedure managed by EPO. Europe is part of a global world where all systems are interconnected: it is therefore necessary to confront the different views on an international level and to achieve balance for the benefit of all. I hope that EUPACO will enable us to reach a constructive exchange of views and to find new paths."
- Conference dates: 15-16 May 2007
- Location: Metropole Hotel, Brussels
- Registration fee: 250.00 EUR excl. VAT, free for journalists and staff of the European institutions
Conference website: http://www.eupaco.org
Programme of the conference: http://www.eupaco.org/eupaco2
+32-2-414 84 03
bhenrion at ffii.org
About the FFII
The FFII is a not-for-profit association registered in twenty European countries, dedicated to the development of information goods for the public benefit, based on copyright, free competition, open standards. More than 850 members, 3,500 companies and 100,000 supporters have entrusted the FFII to act as their voice in public policy questions concerning exclusion rights (intellectual property) in data processing.