The IPKat was very excited when he read earlier this week about the Memorandum of Understanding concluded between the European Patent Office (EPO) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, Inc Standards Association (IEEE-SA). According to the EPO's website:
"Signed by EPO's ad interim Vice-President for Legal and International Affairs, Wim Van der Eijk, and IEEE-SA Managing Director Judith Gorman, the memorandum aims to increase co-operation between the two institutions on standards and intellectual property.The IPKat is a cooperative Kat, and he likes to see bodies like the EPO being seen to be caring and sharing. But what he wants to know is this:
In the MoU, the two organisations agree to share knowledge, information and documentation on technology and standards, and to collaborate on education related to standards and IP issues. The IEEE will also facilitate the involvement of EPO representatives in all relevant IEEE-SA working groups and investigate whether the Office can participate in beta testing of its document management system.
"Clearly defined interfaces and information exchange must be established between formal standards setting organisations and patent offices in order to increase transparency in this critical field, where two types of regulatory systems are interfering " says Wim Van der Eijk. "This is the first agreement of its kind, but it is part of a wider strategy."
"We are also in talks with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and hope to conclude similar agreements with them," he said.
"This landmark collaborative agreement with the EPO will help educate, promote and strengthen positions surrounding intellectual property polices in standardization," says Judith Gorman, IEEE-SA Managing Director. "It opens the door for a wide-range of activities related to IP in efforts to support the IP needs of industry not only in the EC, but around the globe."
Closer involvement with standards organisations is supporting EPO's efforts to make sure that the patent system contributes to the promotion of innovation and a healthy, competitive environment for business.
The IEEE, a not-for-profit corporation based in New Jersey, is a leading developer of international standards that underpin many of today's products and services, particularly in the fields of telecommunications, information technology and power generation".
* There are a lot of long and quite grand words in this MoU -- but what in practical terms do they mean for the examiner or the Boards of Appeal when they are carrying out their current functions?* How will the effectiveness of any tangible outcome from the MoU be measured? By whom, and at what intervals of time?* If standardisation in this context means what the IPKat thinks it does, are there any plans to bring the EU or national competition authorities into the circle? This may be important if standards bring about a need for cross-licensing or pooling of patents, with subsequent and vital significance for issues such as the ability of new entrants to gain access to the standards at an affordable cost and the feasibility of developing and patenting technologies that compete with those subject to the standards.