For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Licensing Patents & Know-How: one programme, many questions ...

The Kats take an interest
in BRIC licensing ...
Even though he's not on the conference programme, or perhaps because he isn't, the IPKat is intrigued by some of the content of a forthcoming LexisNexis one-day conference, "Licensing Patents & Know-How", which takes place in London's Millennium Mayfair Hotel on 17 February. One of the sessions is entitled " Hints and tips on patents and know-how licensing in BRIC countries". BRIC, the Kat explains for the benefit of first-timers, is not a spelling mistake for BRICK, stands for four markets which are rapidly growing through inward IP investment and outward sales -- Brazil, Russia, India and China -- and this is the first time he has seen BRIC licensing described as a topic all on its own. He had quietly cherished the notion that the four countries named were so very different in their legal culture, market dynamics and commercial practices that it would be difficult to draw any general conclusions and give any advice more specific than "Watch out!"  Drawing on his memory of LES conferences from the distant past, this Kat recalls that one issue that IP owners might want to consider is how on earth to repatriate royalties earned through BRIC licensing: one way to help grow a flourishing economy is to attract foreign technology but let more money in than out.  He wonders if this is still the case.

Another topic under analysis on this programme is the interface of patent licensing and competition here, a topic that has fallen to the IPKat's friend, barrister Jonathan D. C. Turner. A man whose eye is closely focused on the subject (his book on this very topic will soon approach its first birthday), Jonathan has the task of selling the Technology Transfer Block Exemption (TTBE: Regulation 772/2004) to an audience which will surely contain many of the unconverted. Jonathan offers to enable conference participants to find a "path through the forest".  Some folk will probably jump at the thought of a way to ascertain whether their patent licences can safely be regarded as non-anticompetitive, so they and their investors can sleep peacefully at night.  Others may say (as indeed some do) that if the forest is so difficult to find a path through, there's a good chance that the European Commission's competition chaps can't find a path through it either.

A third topic that caught this Kat's eye is the presentation by Paul Brown Hogan Lovells LLP) on the transactional dimension: is it better to license than to sell a patent, what are the current criteria -- and what if anything is the impact of the patent auction?  It is this Kat's firm contention that the reason why patent auctions have been so unsuccessful to date is that, in the main, (i) patent owners only auction their patents if they can't find a better and more profitable way of selling them, and (ii) there's no point in anyone buying a patent at auction unless it fits their immediate manufacturing or R&D needs or they are playing Monopoly and hope that someone will land on their property after they've bought it so they can earn some rent. The position would change if entire, fully-functioning and profit-generating patent and know-how portfolios were auctioned as single lots, with prospective bidders being able to get some idea of their value.

You can check out the day's agenda here, inspect the speakers' credentials here and download the brochure here.

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