Where : Hotel Silken Berlaymont Brussels http://www.hoteles-silken.com/en/hotels/berlaymont-brussels/location/
What : Patents have proven useful in protecting innovation by ensuring a fair revenue to inventors in exchange for public disclosure. The current system, however, has led to a number of abuses in the field of technology which are harming innovation in a significant manner. So-called 'patent trolls', companies whose business model consists in buying up patents with the sole aim of taking anyone who infringes them to court, have grown exponentially, particularly in the US where they are increasingly seen as a major problem. At the same time technology giants are engaged in massive legal battles, spanning over the courts of multiple countries, as exemplified by the ongoing Apple versus Samsung cases. In 2011 for the first time, Apple and Google spent more money in litigation than in research and development. The 'patent thicket' of complex technologies such as smartphones, which can be covered by hundreds of individual patents, makes it extremely costly and lengthy to settle any legal dispute. Not only does this hold up public resources in expensive lawsuits, but it often also represents a significant barrier to smaller innovators who may not have the capacity to cover these legal costs.
In the absence of a global reform of the patent system, some industry-lead initiatives have tried to mitigate these issues. One example is patent non-aggression pacts (also known as defensive patent pools), which are used to 'shield' its signatories against the aggressive use of some patents. To kick-off the discussion on this topic we have invited the following speakers :
- Keith Bergelt, CEO of the Open Invention Network ;
- Carlo Piana, independent lawyer specialised in IT law ;
- Dr. Clara Neppel, EPO examiner in the field of Computer-Implemented Inventions, Public Policy Issues.
The debate will then directly be opened to the floor for an interactive discussion under Chatham House Rule moderated by Graham Taylor (OFA). The outcomes of the discussion will be compiled by our Rapporteur Efthymios Altsitsiadis as an OFA White Paper for the wider release.