Limits in Intellectual Property Protection

Article excerpt

Once a year, Ilmenau, a town in central Germany that is home to the patent information center of Thuringen County (PATON) and located at the Technical University Ilmenau (www.tu-ilmenau.de), becomes a mecca for German-speaking intellectual property (IP) rights professionals. For 33 years, PATON has been inviting the IP community to discuss the latest developments in global IP protection. The conference, called PATINFO, unites patent attorneys, patent information professionals, engineers, property rights instructors, educators, representatives from patent authorities, and professional patent information providers. They come mostly from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

This year's colloquium attracted some 380 participants and 34 exhibitors, filling the venue Festhalle Ilmenau and the hotels to the brim. Another five companies wanted to exhibit, but there was no space available.

MANAGEMENT CHANGES

Last year the management responsibilities at PATON were handed over from Reinhard Schramm to Christoph Hoock, which led to some changes. For the first time, a program committee that included representatives from patent authorities as well as corporate patent information professionals selected conference topics. The resulting agenda of 22 lectures addressed common problems that patent information workers confront, as well as approaches by authorities and commercial information providers to solve these problems. The latter were invited to present selected products and services in a dedicated 1-hour session during the conference. Each presenter was given 10 minutes to explain the essence of the innovation. Being a novelty for this conference, the quick overviews of the latest products in exhibition elicited great interest. The session demonstrated that semantic technologies are coming to dominate professional information industry products.

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GLOBALIZATION CHALLENGES

PATINFO's 2011 theme was Grenzen des gewerblichen Rechtsschutzes, which translates as Boundaries and Borders of IP Protection. It addressed some problems the patent and trademark legislation and IP protection systems face in the fast-growing global economic world. Additionally, speakers discussed how authorities, information providers, and trainers meet these challenges. Speakers explained difficulties caused by the following:

* The rising flood of global patent applications, mostly from China and India. This was explained in statistics and numbers within three lectures given by Hubert Rothe, representative of German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA), Munich; Irene Schellner, representative of the European Patent Office (EPO), Vienna; and Reinhard Schramm, Ilmenau.

* The difficult patentability of current inventions, particularly software, algorithms, and life science inventions-reported in the lectures of Rolf Claessen, patent attorney at Freischem, Cologne, and Rainer Anders, DPMA.

* The huge quantity of patent information available for searching and market monitoring that can no longer be handled without the help of sophisticated software systems and tools. Nearly all speakers touched on this.

* The fact that patent attorneys formulate patent applications in a way that, on the one hand, provides the best protection for the invention, while, on the other hand, hides the invention and significant facts from competitors and search engines--covered by Rolf W. Einsele, German and European patent and trademark attorney at Meissner Bolte, Munich, DPMA, EPO, Jeremias Gromotka, FIZ Karlsruhe, and others.

* The long-neglected significance of Legal Status Information and the still unsatisfactory provision of reliable information--reported by Peter Kallas, BASF SE, Ludwigshafen.

* The lack of harmonized education profiles for the training of researchers, along with a lack of certificates to check and compare their qualifications--pointed out by Aalt van de Kuilen, Abbott Healthcare Products B. …