In June 2011, ALLEA via its Permanent Working Group on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) issued a Statement on “The Future Patent System of the European Union” which supported the creation of a European patent with unitary effect and the renewal of the European Commission’s efforts to harmonise employee’s invention laws as well as provide for a grace period in order to facilitate implementation of the anticipated unitary EU patenting rules.
ALLEA’s newest statement prepared by the PWG IPR revisits these issues in light of recent developments regarding EU patent regulation on the basis of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (UPC Agreement) signed by 25 Member States in February 2013 as well as the 2012 Unitary Patent Regulation and the 2012 Regulation on translation arrangements.
The statement welcomes the introduction of these pieces of legislation “despite the fact that the three legal instruments constitute a complex and complicated compromise, which does not meet all the expectations and whose implementation into practice will have to overcome several hurdles”. It then proceeds to assess the difficulties and deficiencies that will arise in the course of their imminent implementation. For example, the Unitary Patent Regulation and the UPC Agreement reveal a problematic situation in which the validity of “unitary effect”-holding patents is dependent on the date of their respective Member State’s accession to the UPC Agreement.
Thus, the statement offers several recommendations for resolving these issues and emphasises that the coordination of Member States’ accession to the UPC Agreement is essential for avoiding inconsistencies and confusion related to the unitary effect of patents. Moreover, ALLEA via the PWG IPR reaffirms its commitment to supporting the introduction of the aforementioned grace period, which still remains unaddressed in the existing legislation.
This statement will be addressed to the relevant European authorities and national governments in an effort to concretely contribute to the continuing development of the European patent system.
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On 4 November 2015, ALLEA President Günter Stock delivered the annual MacCormick European Lecture at the Royal Society of Edinburghon the kind invitation of RSE President Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell. In his lecture, Professor Stock reflected upon the role of academies in the age of the Enlightenment, drawing a parallel to today’s contemporary academies and arguing that providing scientific advice can be viewed as a form of “modern enlightenment”. Ultimately, the mandate of academies remains to enlighten – by upholding and continuing this tradition of enabling the discovery and communication of scientific knowledge. The following text encapsulates the main themes of enlightenment and the academies as conveyed by Professor Stock in his lecture.
Academies were a result and at the same time an enormous driving force of and for the Enlightenment. And hence, academies like the RSE rightly consider themselves as enlightenment societies. The German writer Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach once said, “Who doesn’t know anything, has to believe everything,” a modern version of the phrase used by Immanuel Kant during the Enlightenment: sapere aude.
The Royal Society of Edinburgh
Through learning how to understand, interpret, and analyse our world we have created as Jürgen Mittelstraß calls it a Leonardo world. It is therefore obvious that our responsibility for the future of this – our – world is enormous. Whatever the outcomes of what we have achieved might be, they can only truly be mastered with more and better information, knowledge, and science in general, with more wisdom. In recent years, we have learned that the great challenges ahead of us such as climate, energy, health, and inequalities, to name only a few, can only be tackled or, to say more modestly, can only be approached if we are able to combine all of the current knowledge we have and make this knowledge available in a qualitative and timely fashion.
To allow for taking the appropriate measures and developing the means to respond to these challenges, quality assurance and interdisciplinarity of the highest possible standards are the first mandates which have to be brought forward by academia and hence by academies. In a world with ever increasing knowledge, universal geniuses – if they really existed once upon a time – to whom one could conceivably delegate issues and problems are no longer available. It is civil society that needs to understand, in principle, what is needed in order to properly decide upon and implement measures.
It is exactly this responsibility which has to be accepted – not exclusively, but to a great extent – by modern academies. First, they need to help society to develop the necessary mental attitude and then show society what options and alternatives are currently available based on scientific knowledge and judgment. We call this scientific advice or, more histrionically, modern enlightenment.
This enlightenment or science-based advice is of course a global endeavour, a national endeavour, and, even more so, a European task. Currently, a European academy consortium (Academia Europaea, ALLEA, EASAC, Euro-CASE, and FEAM) is preparing, together with the European Commission, a new mechanism for scientific advice (SAM), which will be an important contribution to the improvement of European political efficiency.
Last but not least, European academies have both a mandate and the obligation to preserve, interpret, and make available in the broadest possible sense the European cultural heritage and its relationship with the global cultural heritage. This indispensable task means that we must strive to underline and support what our predecessors have called the “soul” of Europe. Thus, the term enlightenment is neither outdated nor old-fashioned: it is the essence of modern academies.
The Royal Society of Edinburgh is Scotland’s national academy. Founded in 1783, its Fellowship includes some of the best intellectual talent in academia, the professions and business. It facilitates public debate, research programmes, educational projects and strategy formulation. Its strength is its diversity and impartiality. The Society’s unique multi-disciplinary approach enables it to draw from and link with a broad spectrum of expertise to advance the understanding of globally-important issues. In fulfilling its Royal Charter for the ‘advancement of learning and useful knowledge’, the RSE is seeking to contribute to the social, cultural and economic wellbeing of Scotland.
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