Digital Agenda for Europe
A Europe 2020 Initiative

Intellectual Property Law in the context of Open Innovation 2.0

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Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) is an omnipresent topic. What is more, it does not get any easier when you want to start an Open-Innovation-based business.

First allow me to briefly introduce myself: My name is Martha Suda. I am currently a Blue Book Trainee within Bror Salmelin's Open Innovation team at the Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology, European Commission. I am currently working on a report on Intellectual Property Rights Challenges for an Open-Innovation-based idea exchange. My report will be published as part of the OISPG publication series which the Group distributes on a regular basis. The main idea is that interest groups and citizens are being informed about the current trends in the realm of Open Innovation as well as different aspects around the topic are being analysed and explained.

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) is an omnipresent topic: "Am I allowed to download this song? Am I allowed to stream this video? Am I allowed to use this picture?" are questions we might ask ourselves in our every-day lives. What is more, it does not get any easier when you want to start an Open-Innovation-based business. With all those copyrights, patents and trademarks, where is the legal framework within which we can explore new ideas together, without getting lost in the IPR-jungle?

Image credits:www.bluenove.com

My law studies and work experience in a law firm in Vienna in the field of international IPR provide me with a sound insight of the problems the IPR system has to deal with on the national as well as on the European and international levels. When I started to dig a little deeper into the topic of Open Innovation and the necessary changes in the legal framework to facilitate it, I realised very quickly that there is not only one definition of what's needed. Based on the complex new technologies and the possibilities they bring, it is almost impossible to predict the legal challenges we will face, even in the near future. The technologies nowadays develop much faster than any legal system can – especially the EU system with its 28 national legal frameworks that need to be harmonized. Therefore it might be necessary to rethink the requirements a "good law" has to fulfil. Those requirements may differ significantly from topic to topic. Regarding technology-influenced fields as IPR, we have to say good-bye to the old continental-European thinking that the law regulates every possible situation and subscribe to more flexible solutions. If we can't regulate every single detail, we should work on enduring legal frameworks that secure our most important rights but at the same time are flexible enough to adapt to the ever-changing circumstances. The aim has to be to give people the legal protection they are entitled to without burying them under a ton of new laws and legal terms.

We also have to widen our horizon and have a look at the difficulties innovators actually face, so that regulations tackle actual and not hypothetical problems. The most obvious way to do that is to take a look at the solutions people already found within the existing laws and ask ourselves: where is a real need for new regulations? Also, more than ever we have to bear in mind that, more and more, the fields of law are overlapping. Consequently, one problem might not be solved with regulations only in the most obvious field concerned, but it might also be solved within a different field of law.

I am looking forward to present the upcoming results of my research and trains of thoughts soon!