Geneva/Munich, 6 May, 2011 - The European Patent Office (EPO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) have signed an agreement today in recognition of the need for standards makers to share information to help improve the quality of patents. It is the first agreement the ITU has ever concluded with a patent office.
Standards are essential for the wide adoption of new technologies in the marketplace. However there is potential for conflict between patents and standards when the implementation of the standard requires the use of technology protected by one or more patents.
The newly signed agreement will help create the right balance between the interests of all relevant stakeholders, including patent holders, implementers of the standard, and end-users while seeking to enable solutions to market-driven needs on a global basis.
Hamadoun Touré, Secretary General, ITU: "ITU has long championed an intellectual property policy that takes into account the needs of patent holders as well as a requirement to meet the needs of end users in the most efficient manner. This agreement will provide the necessary framework to better respond to the challenges created by the interplay between patents and standards and will increase the transparency of patent information declared to ITU."
Benoît Battistelli, President of the European Patent Office: "This agreement is recognition of the importance for standard-setting organisations to cooperate with patent and trademark offices with a view to improving transparency at the interplay of both systems and facilitating the work of patent examiners in their examination processes."
The agreement will allow ITU to link its Patent Database to the EPO Database containing patent documentation relevant to ITU's standardization activities. The organization of joint workshops on the interplay between Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and standards is also foreseen. For the EPO, the agreement will improve access to documentation from the ITU allowing the EPO to further improve patent quality and legal certainty.
In order to minimize this risk of conflict and to assure a smooth and wide dissemination of standardized technology, ITU together with World Standards Cooperation (WSC) partners ISO and IEC established a joint patent policy in 2007. The common policy provides reassurance to industry that its interests are protected when sharing intellectual property with implementers of standards. It also ensures that patents embodied into ITU standards are accessible to everyone without undue constraints.
For more information please contact
Mr Rainer Osterwalder
Director Media Relations
European Patent Office
Tel: +49 89 23 99 18 20
Fax: +49 89 23 99 28 50