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ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

ITU Patent Roundtable

Geneva, Switzerland, 10 October 2012

Welcome Address

Good morning, welcome, Thank you for coming

We greatly appreciate the high level of participation in the event.

In particular I would like to thank our two moderators for agreeing to take on this challenge. Knut Blind, Rotterdam School of Management and Robert Barr, University of California, Berkeley. Both renowned experts in this field, we appreciate very much that you have given your time to help drive this event today.

I would also like to thank our steering committee for advising us on the structure and format of this event, and our distinguished speakers.

On the advice of our steering committee and in order to create an atmosphere conducive to a fruitful exchange, we will adhere to the Chatham House rule:

"When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed."

I would also like to point out that there will be no recording of this event and no summary record. I will give closing remarks at the end of the day that will summarise my conclusions on the day.

Knut will give a more detailed outline of how we will organise the day in his opening remarks.

Let me just say a few words about ITU’s standards work in relation to patents.

ITU’s work has long since moved-on from pure telecoms and we now produce standards for multimedia, IPTV, video codecs, videoconferencing; broadband cable and TV; security including cybersecurity, ICTs to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change, and accessibility.

In all of these, IPR issues can arise.

And so there is still very much a need to discuss issues relating to the inclusion of patents in standards and to examine the different policy approaches to address those issues.

Innovation often starts in academia which is why last year ITU started a new membership category for academia and I am please to say we now have around 40 universities participating in the standards work.

As a standards making organization we have to try to accommodate both end-user requirements and the intellectual property requirements of the originator of the technology, so as to meet market demand as well as encouraging innovation.

Let me give you a short history of how patents policy has developed in ITU.

ITU first began discussing the issues associated with the inclusion of patented technology in Recommendations in the early 1970’s.

As technology evolved, the number of essential patents and their importance began to become more significant. The first version of an ITU patent policy was developed in 1985, and was based largely on the best practices in our Study Groups.

Later, during the 1990’s, it became apparent that the issues surrounding patents and standards were arising more frequently and were becoming even more complex. As a result, the ITU TSB Director’s IPR Ad hoc Group was formed so that experts from the ITU membership and invited guests could provide input and guidance on these issues.

With the increasing convergence of information and communications technology, the ITU, ISO and IEC began to discuss harmonizing IPR policy approaches through our World Standards Cooperation and in March 2007 we agreed on a Common Patent Policy for ITU/ISO/IEC.

The Common Patent Policy allows for companies’ innovative technologies to be included in standards as long as intellectual property is made available to all implementers under reasonable and non-discriminatory terms and conditions. We also developed a set of guidelines on the implementation of this policy which includes the need for early disclosure of any related patent.

In recent months we have seen what seems to be a rise in cases of conflicts relating to standards essential patents (SEPs).

So we very much hope that the discussion today will identify whether we need to improve our policy, or clarify our guidance on its implementation, to help overcome these difficulties.

And so we invite our moderators Knut Blind and Robert Bar to take these seats and wish you a very productive and enjoyable day.