|The speakers face competition for the|
complete and undivided attention of registrants
The event opened with a plenary session, at which all the usual formalities and pleasantries were aired: the importance of IP, the good work done by everyone in general and also in particular, the need to be vigilant, far-sighted, imaginative, decisive, flexible ... which is why we all feel a depressingly powerful need to be perpetually perfect.
|Multidisciplinary Brain Science at Tel Aviv|
Uni: do we teach it, analyse it - or cook it?
|Weizmann Institute: has an important|
programme for educating the general public
"How do real scientists see IP?", he asked. We don't try to solve problems so much as to understand them, said Professor Zajfman; we also seek to achieve a level of academic excellence, but this can't be done unless you have parameters and criteria within which excellence can be defined and measured. Academic excellence can't be measured in numbers and it's usually recognised retrospectively, which is why Nobel Prizes are often granted so many years after the event. The Weizmann Institute seeks to invest in excellent people with excellent ideas ("Major discoveries aren't made in the laboratory, they're made in the brain"), so this question is important for it. Much the same applies when scientists appoint lawyers: they can't understand what they're doing and have to make an assessment of their excellence based on external criteria.
"The role of the scientist is to transform money into knowledge; the role of industry is to transform knowledge into money".For this reason, the Weizmann Institute refuses to engage in research projects with industry and does not set up its own start-ups: this preserves its academic freedom and lets it produce its own results. Even Yeda can't go back to the institute and point it towards market opportunities. However, while scientists there have total freedom academically, they have zero percent entitlement to the resulting IP per se -- though opportunities for returning royalty profits exist and the institute has been extremely successful in this regard.
|But who will read it ...?|
David Kappos (former Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the US Patent and Trademark Office, currently with Cravath, Swaine & Moore, LLP, speaking on "The role of IP in the future world development". Why is IP becoming so unpopular, he asked. The answer is that it's right in the middle of the target zone. It's a long-term investment which is always pitched against short-term exigencies such as access to medicine, cheap prices etc, and this means it's always in for a rough ride. Also, the transition of IP from specific items of property to an asset class has produced concepts that have attracted adverse reaction, such as that of the patent troll. An honest re-examination of the IP system is required -- and academics in particular owe it to us to provide that honesty.
|Da Vinci: driven by patented software|
David then addressed the issue of patent quality: it is of key importance since lack of quality leads to dispute and uncertainty. In this context:
"the question isn't "how to find the perfect test for patentable/non-patentable subject matter?" but "how do we get the right documentation so far as the patent's claims and descriptions are concerned?"Ultimately do we want our patents and our protection on the cheap, or do we want something that really works? We've struggled with software patents -- but it's better to struggle to get them right than to cave in to the lobbyists and reject them completely.