Brussels, Bedford Hotel and Congress Centre
Rue du Midi 135-137 - 1000 Brussels - (Belgium)
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Throughout the world, public policies increasingly rely on innovative and interoperable ICT solutions to implement major projects for the benefit of society in domains such as eHealth, efficient energy use, cloud computing, integrated transport systems and smart grids.
The effectiveness of the proposed solutions depends to a large extent on the level of interoperability between the various ICT components of the systems which in turn depends on the effectiveness and consistency of the set of ICT standards underpinning the application.
Public authorities also count on interoperable ICT solution to be able to communicate with their stakeholders and counterpart authorities both domestically and internationally. To fulfil their policy and communication tasks the necessary interoperable ICT solutions usually have to be acquired through public procurement.
ICT standards supporting policy objectives are thus technology platforms with a strong public interest dimension. As such, they raise legitimate concerns when technologies covered by Intellectual Property rights (IPR) are included in the standards. The exclusive potential provided by those rights poses the danger that they could become an impediment to the implementation of the technologies and the realisation of the policy objectives.
Simultaneously public authorities care about the development of innovative solutions, including those covered by IPR's. The IPR treatments in ICT standardisation should contribute to the competitiveness of companies while providing equal treatment of business models. Public authorities therefore need to pay particular attention to IPR aspects in ICT standards which may impact on public policy setting. In particular, they need to carefully consider such aspects when undertaking public procurement in order to ensure fair competition between technology solutions and providers.
Furthermore, policy initiatives as well as the procurement of interoperable solutions, often require the integration of standards stemming from various private standardisation organisations. However, such standards setting organisations do not necessarily use compatible IPR policies and therefore efforts may be necessary to ensure adequate transparency, consistency and predictability of IPR treatment in the integrated set of standards.
Against this background, the Commission and the European Patent Office will jointly organise a second public conference aimed at further increasing transparency and predictability in the treatment of IPR in ICT standardisation.
The conference to be held on 24 November 2011 in Brussels will focus on the role, expectations and responsibilities of public authorities in relation to the use of interoperable ICT technologies in support of competitiveness and innovative applications to meet policy objectives. It will have a broad international dimension including representatives of public authorities from Europe and other world regions as well as industry and standardisation organisations with a global reach. Key notes will be provided by the European Commission and then European patent office.