Committed to connecting the world

ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

Speech by ITU Secretary-General, Dr Hamadoun I. Touré

ITU Patent Roundtable 

10 October 2012, Geneva, Switzerland

Distinguished guests
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to be here with you this morning for the opening of the ITU Patent Roundtable.

This roundtable is timely and appropriate, in an environment where I am seeing much standard essential patent litigation around the world.

Although the standard and patent systems are both meant to spur innovation, the relationship between these two systems is complex and sometimes antagonisms arise.

As we all know, progress – especially in the information and communication technology sector – absolutely depends on there being clear incentives for innovators.

I am therefore pleased that we have been able to convene this roundtable today, and that we have been able to bring together all the different stakeholders, including standards organizations, key industry players, government officials, and academic institutions, to review this situation.

We have therefore called this meeting in line both with our broader mandate, as a specialized agency of the United Nations, to connect the world, as well as the standardization sector’s mission to produce high-quality, demand-driven international standards, with the principles of global connectivity; openness; affordability; interoperability; and security.

Clearly, the current cases of SEP litigation could have a negative impact on our ability to fulfil this mission.

With our unique membership mix – comprising 193 Member States and some 700 Sector Members, including both private sector organizations and academic institutions – we are well qualified to provide a global platform where all stakeholders can come together to discuss such an important issue.

Ladies and gentlemen,

What do we hope to achieve here today?

Firstly, and most importantly, we are here to open up a dialogue with all stakeholders on a global issue which affects the entire ICT industry.

Secondly, we hope to be able to assess the effectiveness of current RAND-based patent policies.

And thirdly, we would like to explore ways in which standard essential patents can be enforced without hindering competition.

Is this mission impossible?

No, I don’t think it is.

The impact of standard essential patents on competition is clearly a complex and sensitive issue – but here at ITU we pride ourselves on our ability to bring together people with different viewpoints and provide them with the right environment to seek consensus.

We are providing a neutral venue today for industry players, standards development organizations, government representatives and academic institutions to exchange ideas and hopefully guide future discussions on whether current patent policies are adequate or sufficient.

Topics on the table for discussion include potential improvements to existing policy frameworks; entitlement to injunctive relief for standard essential patents; and interpretation of the term ‘reasonable’ under RAND regimes.
Distinguished guests,

We are privileged to work in the most exciting industry sector of the 21st century – a sector that affects the life and work of every person on the planet.

So let me close by thanking you for joining us here today, and wishing you a productive and successful roundtable here in Geneva.

And on that note let me hand the floor to Malcolm Johnson, the Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau.

Thank you.