Array member Carlo Piana is going to be one of the three speakers in a round table at Open Forum Academy, of which he is a Fellow, on Software Patents. Also in the panel will feature a senior member of the European Patent Office. Save the date, 19th February 2014, Brussels, Hotel Silken Berlaymont.

It is going to be a very interesting debate, over one of the most heated battlegrounds of IT in the world. Just recently we heard the news that Google is to sell Motorola for one third of what it paid, precisely because it extracted from it the strategic value of its patents, to fight against the aggression it received from many disgruntled (and disrupted) competitors, first and foremost Apple.

This is the rationale presentation by the Open Forum Academy, with a link to the registration form:

Patents have proven useful in protecting innovation by ensuring a fair revenue to inventors in exchange for public disclosure. The current system, however, has led to a number of abuses in the field of technology which are harming innovation in a significant manner. So-called ‘patent trolls’, companies whose business model consists in buying up patents with the sole aim of taking anyone who infringes them to court, have grown exponentially, particularly in the US where they are increasingly seen as a major problem. At the same time technology giants are engaged in massive legal battles, spanning over the courts of multiple countries, as exemplified by the ongoing Apple versus Samsung cases. In 2011 for the first time, Apple and Google spent more money in litigation than in research and development. The ‘patent thicket’ of complex technologies such as smartphones, which can be covered by hundreds of individual patents, makes it extremely costly and lengthy to settle any legal dispute. Not only does this hold up public resources in expensive lawsuits, but it often also represents a significant barrier to smaller innovators who may not have the capacity to cover these legal costs.

In the absence of a global reform of the patent system, some industry-lead initiatives have tried to mitigate these issues. One example is patent non-aggression pacts (also known as defensive patent pools), which are used to ‘shield’ its signatories against the aggressive use of some patents. To kick-off the discussion on this topic we have invited the following speakers :

  • Keith Bergelt, CEO of the Open Invention Network ;
  • Carlo Piana, independent lawyer specialised in IT law ;
  • Dr. Clara Neppel, European Patent Office Examiner in the field of Computer-Implemented Inventions, Public Policy Issues.

The debate will then directly be opened to the floor for an interactive discussion under Chatham House Rule moderated by Graham Taylor (OFA). The outcomes of the discussion will be compiled by our Rapporteur Efthymios Altsitsiadis (KU Leuven) as an OFA White Paper for the wider release.

Please mark the date, the 19 February 2014, in your calendar and confirm your interest by registering here.