20th sep, 2011

6th EPIP conference explores the current IP debate

In Early September EPIP held its 6th conference and having attended one of their conferences in Denmark I decided to have a look on what subjects they favor.

In their program and outline they focus very much on how IP works. Is it increasing growth, is it fair and how do we measure its success?

During the last ten years the focus in academic research has settled on these questions exploring patent indicators on growth, competition, quality and value. I try to read as many papers as I can from conferences, research institutions etc. and get the feeling that there is a missing link somewhere. There is much data and interesting stuff to read in all these papers and the researchers try and learn from each other (the citation list is sometimes longer than the actual paper).

But what is missing are overall conclusions.

A new research focus should be to apply the research results to actual politics or company strategy. It doesn’t matter that the numbers are based on a survey of 50 companies in Italy or data from 2009-10. What is needed is someone to collect what we know and apply it to reality. It is actually the same mistake that we claim the universities make when not commercializing their research – we do not get our research out and work in the real world.

Let me give you an example.

I have many research papers focusing on patent quality especially for computer implemented inventions. Analyzing these papers you see that the root of the problems is workloads of the patent office and interpretation of patent law. The quality problem lead to lawsuits (which is a whole other discussion) and possible misspending of money (on lawyers etc.). So since there can be no doubt that patent quality is one of the keys to a well-functioning patent system you should focus your initiatives there. Results of this are projects like the patent prosecution highway and the American invents act which focus on patent quality among other things.

However my point here is that this analysis of findings from academics must be more systematic both on a country and business level. And all of the papers I have read from the EPIP conference could have an impact on both these levels.

So back to the EPIP.

I downloaded a bunch of interesting papers (http://www.epip.eu/conferences/epip06/papers/Parallel%20Session%20Papers/) and you should read the ones below:

  • “Spot the difference: A computer implemented invention or a software patent?” By  Eugenio Archontopoulos from the EPO. Interesting analysis of the software patent debate.
  •   ” Understanding patent quality: evidence from patent opposition cases at the European Patent Office” by  Federico Caviggioli, Giuseppe Scellato and Elisa Ughetto. The paper concluses (surprising to me) that an EPO opposition is more likely for EU applicants than US while the US patent is more likely to be revoked. The paper also finds evidence between the value of a patent and its value.
  •   “Is the dragon learning to fly? An analysis of the Chinese patent explosion” by Markus Eberhardt, Christian Helmers and Zhihong Yu. The data analyzed in the paper supports the suspicion that China is moving from imitator to inventor and are exporting brand new inventions.
  •   “Access to Intellectual Property for Innovation: Evidence on Problems and Coping Strategies from German Firms” by Elisabeth Mueller, Iain M. Cockburn, and Megan MacGarvie. This interesting paper show that only a few companies have halted innovation because of competing IP. Furthermore they find no evidence that problems of access to IP are more severe in the complex/cumulative industries where patent thickets are thought to present the most serious challenges.
  •   “Strategic uses of patents on markets for technology: Technological firms, brokers and trolls” by Julien Pénin. This paper highlights the need to foster patent brokers while trying to limit patent trolling.
  •   “Market size, education, trust, and the value of IPRs: Evidence from the validation of European Patents” by Bas Straathof and Sander van Veldhuizen. The paper actually puts a concrete value on a European patent – 50.000 Euros – and estimate that this value will increase by 15% if we introduce the European Patent.


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