Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn commited to Community Patent

It sounds a bit like lip-service though

In a speech given at a conference on research and innovation policy, the new Commissioner for Research and Innovation from Ireland, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, expressed a hope of “finally finding an agreement on the community patent”, similar in tone to the hope of her colleague Barnier to “be the last Commissioner who tries to finalise a deal on the European patent”.

In the 2010 Guglielmo Marconi Lecture given by Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn at the “Innovation Summit of the Lisbon Council” on March 5th, we can hear the thinking of the new Research Commissioner pushing, as one might expect, to have more problems solved at a European and global level.

At See e.g. 4:30 ff it becomes most relevant to questions of the patent system, with the following messages:

  • We must build a fully functional single market for innovation; that means
    • tearing down the barriers to cross-border trade & services and the cross-border provision of venture capital
    • finally finding an agreement on the community patent
  • more than this we need to take a fresh look at our entire intellectual property framework
    • indeed we need to ask ourselves some pretty profound questions about how to best foster innovation in the early 21st century
    • may be by fostering the growing trend toward greater openness?
      • however ….
      • we will have to get the balance right
    • Her final sentence fits better with the spirit of the “Wikinomics” talk heard at the same summit than with that of the patent system:

      We are all innovators now - and the task ahead is to build, not just the “i-conomy”, but a cohesive and prosperous “i-society.”

In this context her call for the community patent could be interpreted as lip service to an eternal issue that may have become outdated meanwhile, reminiscent also of what her colleague Barnier said a few weeks earlier:

“I can tell you frankly, I really hope I’ll be the last Commissioner who tries to finalise a deal on the European patent.”

At 7:20 she stresses that R&D efforts must driven by global private networks and the role of European governments and the EU must exercise utter restraint when getting involved and make sure that they make up for market failures in a market-neutral way only.

The patent system is ideally intended to be a system that makes up for market failures in a market-neutral way. This is perhaps its single most important advantage compared to alternative systems with heavier emphasis on prizes and public research that have been discussed by economists in recent years.


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