EU Science Hub

Innovation in the European Digital Single Market: The Role of Patents. Thematic Report on the Brussels Conference, 17 March 2015

Abstract: 
The Institute for Prospective Technological Studies of the Joint Research Centre (JRC) organised the Conference "Innovation in the European digital single market - The Role of Patents". This conference aimed to provide reliable evidence based on patent data analysis to support European innovation policies for a Digital Single Market. The advancement of the digital economy in Europe does not only bring unmatched opportunities, but also a series of challenges in the area of intellectual property rights. This is particularly true for the patent system which has to strike the right balance between providing incentives for research and development investments while enabling at the same time the dissemination and re-use of technological knowledge. The difficulties of striking this balance are most apparent in the field of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT), where standardization and interoperability are important for the implementation of a Digital Single Market. In order to pin down the role of patents in the new digital economy, it is important to look at the broader economic, legal, technological and policy context and achieve a better understanding of what is at stake in the current dynamics. It is a volatile landscape marked by patent wars, high litigation costs, overlapping rights, hold-up scenarios in the field of standardization and radical market shifts deriving from convergent technologies and emerging platform-centric business models. Against this background, the stakes are high with regards to plethora of issues: interoperability, reasonable and timely access to key technologies and technical knowledge, legal certainty, unfettered competition and a secured return on investment in research and development.