Touré working to allow participation. The October 10th Geneva event on “Innovation-stifling use of intellectual property” is open to “any individual or company from a country which is a member of ITU who wishes to contribute to the work,” spokesperson Sarah Parkes writes me. Dr. Touré’s initiative to open all the WCIT proceedings was defeated, although some key documents are being made public. “Participation is open to ITU Member States, ITU Sector Members, Associates and Academic Institutions and to any individual or company from a country which is a member of ITU who wishes to contribute to the work. The event is free of charge but no fellowships will be granted. Follow-up enquiries should apparently be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org” I asked about the role of civil society because the press release (below) spoke only of “a high-level roundtable discussion between standards organizations, key industry players and government officials.” Geneva hotels are expensive, so those without corporate sponsors might consider the hostels, which are remarkably clean. An advantage to the city is that chocolate is considered a food group and occupies a whole isle in the last store I visited. Glad to see more evidence the ITU is opening up. This is an important issue.
Here’s the original release.
High-level ITU talks address rampant patent litigation
Innovation-stifling use of intellectual property to be tackled
Geneva, 6 July 2012 – In light of recent patent disputes that have caused shipments of goods to be impounded at docks and the worldwide increase in standard essential patent (SEP) litigation, ITU will host a high-level roundtable discussion between standards organizations, key industry players and government officials at ITU headquarters in Geneva, on 10 October 2012.
The ITU Patent Roundtable will address the worldwide surge in patent litigation and the growing lack of adherence to standards bodies’ existing patent policies. Topics include potential improvements to existing policy frameworks, entitlement to injunctive reliefs, and definitions of what constitutes a royalty base.
Discussions on the relevance of current arrangements based around reasonable and non-discriminatory (RAND) patent policies will be a key focus. RAND-based policies have thus far been an effective way of managing natural tensions between patent holders, standards implementers and end-users. However, the definition of what constitutes ‘reasonable’, and whether or not holders of SEPs are entitled to injunctive relief are now emerging as major points of contention.
The information and communication technology (ICT) industry in particular is affected, with key protocols implemented in devices sometimes encompassing hundreds of patents. If just one patent holder decides to demand unreasonable compensation for use of its intellectual property (IP), the cost of the device in which that IP is implemented can skyrocket.
Dr Hamadoun Touré, ITU Secretary-General: “We are seeing an unwelcome trend in today’s marketplace to use standards-essential patents to block markets. There needs to be an urgent review of this situation: patents are meant to encourage innovation, not stifle it. Acknowledging patent holders and user requirements, as well as market needs, is a balancing act. This timely multi-stakeholder roundtable will help press for a resolution on some of the critical issues.”
The development of technical standards more and more frequently anticipates technology, as opposed to following it, leading to potentially challenging situations. ITU, as the world’s pre-eminent global standards-making body, strives to accommodate both end-user requirements and the intellectual property requirements of the originator of the technology. This need for balance led to the development of an IPR policy on the basis of RAND – a policy that will continue to demand ongoing review to address the new challenges of the fast growing ICT industry.