Conference debates standards and patents

25 November 2011

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Experts from European institutions, national government bodies, standards organisations and industry gathered in Brussels yesterday at the "Information and Communications Technology Standards and Patents" conference to discuss the relationship between ICT standards and IPR.

Speaking in his keynote address, Wim van der Eijk, Principal Director for Patent Law and Multilateral Affairs, said: "The processes of standardisation and patenting influence each other in several ways... We understand that a structured co-operation between the two systems is needed, in order to increase transparency and improve governance at the interfaces of these processes."

"The current 'patent wars' in the mobile telecommunication sector show that gentlemen agreement may not work anymore as the stakes are becoming too high," he said. "In addition, the perception of standardisation as an essentially business driving, consensual and bottom-up process is challenged by new entrants who see a much more important role for government, at least as initiators and guardians of key standardisation undertakings," he said.

In detailed sessions and panel discussions, participants discussed implications for competitiveness and innovation, transparency and predictability as well as public procurement.

This was the second conference jointly organised by the European Commission and the EPO to shed light on the topic. The EPO has also signed agreements with a number of standardisation bodies to increase co-operation and share information.

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