4iP News

Patents and the Digital Single Market

17 March 2015

4iP provides insight on the role of patents in stimulating innovation in the European Digital Single Market.

4iP joined distinguished policy-makers and intellectual property experts today at a conference in Brussels, organised by the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies of the Joint Research Centre. The conference aimed to provide reliable evidence based on patent data analysis to support European innovation policies for a Digital Single Market.

Senior European policy-makers, industry representatives and digital innovation analysts discussed the latest thinking on the following issues in the relationship between digital technologies and patents:

  • Standardisation and interoperability
  • Fragmentation and competition
  • Patent quality, licensing and patent aggregation
  • Interplay with open innovation

Commission representation at this event was extensive and included Megan Richards, (Principal Adviser, European Commission, Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology), Kerstin Jorna (Director, European Commission, Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs), François Arbault (European Commission, Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs) as well as Nikolaus Thumm and Ioannis Maghiros (European Commission, Joint Research Centre).

The European and UK patent offices were also represented alongside key standards bodies (IEEE) and research institutes (Ecole des Mines, France; Fraunhofer and Max Planck Institutes, Germany; Bologna University, Italy and the Georgia Institute of Technology).

4iP spoke to the fact that the Digital Single Market requires interoperability which which requires high quality standards which requires investment in development of standards which, in turn, requires the ability for stakeholder to achieve a reasonable return on their investments.

Additional key points and opinions expressed by 4iP and others present at the meeting included the following:

  • Patents are effectively the ‘currency’ of the Digital Economy technology base.
  • The success of the system depends on patent quality and that needs to be maintained and, where possible, further improved.
  • The patent system has shown huge flexibility (exclusivity, licensing, access to capital, knowledge transfer, reasonable access to technology etc)
  • Patents provide a level of certainty for investment by creating the opportunity to seek a return for successful technology solutions and options for exit
  • Patents cannot prevent free-riding once the idea is published and available to the public (unless patent rights are respected)
  • SME and start-ups need patent protection for their technology in order to compete against and/or have bargaining power vs large competitors and/or licensees
  • The possibility for a patent holder to enforce its patent/s in a timely manner is critical for the right to have meaning and the technology to have value.