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Keynote Address

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The Keynote Address written text is at Image:KarachaliosKeynote.pdf or Image:KarachaliosKeynote.odt

Dr. Konstantinos Karachalios will wrap up the second full day of CFP 2008 with a presentation on governance gaps in the knowledge economy and the roles and responsibilities of various institutions in addressing these gaps. As one of the leads on the European Patent Office's "Scenarios for the Future" project -- a forward thinking and provocative analysis on how IP regimes might evolve by 2025 and what global legitimacy these regimes might have -- Dr. Karachalios has particular insight into the problems and possibilities that stem from the rise of the knowledge economy.

If it is true that the production, appropriation and control of knowledge is at the centre of various battles to shape the global future, then the public institutions involved have remarkably important roles. In particular, national, regional and international IP institutions have the opportunity to productively engage in public debates around the issues, as their work frames how "knowledge" is defined and codified. However, the governance structure of the global knowledge economy is ill defined and fragile. While its tempting to point at convenient scapegoats for the multiple failures and negative externalities this situation has created, Dr. Karachalios will map out thoughts on how we might navigate between accusations of illegitimate interference and geopolitics and the calls to move beyond a strict legal-technical context.

Dr. Karachalios will also show how the EPO's scenarios -- particularly Whose Game?, in which geopolitics is the dominant factor -- are playing out today in the fight over global ICT standards and discuss how and why the EPO is involved.

About the Speaker

Dr. Konstantinos Karachalios born in Athens in 1954. Gained a PhD in Physics and Engineering on "Nuclear Reactor Safety". He works at the European Patent Office in the field of external relations and is co-author of the work Scenarios for the Future. Publications deal with the topics of culture, politics, science and technology. Most recent ones: Managing Science: is the Cudos still in Place ? (Biotechnology Journal, 2008, 3), and JÃ¼rgen Partenheimer in Conversation with Konstantinos Karachalios in "Discontinuity, Paradox & Precision" (Ikon Gallery Birmingham / Kunstmuseum Bonn, April 2008)

Scenarios for the Future

We encourage all participants to read the EPO's "Scenarios for the Future" report before the conference. You can view the report online or order a copy at http://www.epo.org/topics/patent-system/scenarios-for-the-future.html The EPO's "Scenarios for the Future" project is a visible expression of the will to actively engage in a very important public debate. The EPO's intellectual outreach is combined with very concrete projects in place today with various partners, with a particular emphasis on technological fields in which patent titles may cause considerable strain if not properly regulated.

Keynote Summary

If it is true that knowledge, its production, appropriation and control is at the centre of the battles to shape the future world architecture, then the public institutions involved in this big game have an important role to play. This includes in particular IP institutions, whether national, regional or international, since they are playing a key role in the process of appropriation of codified knowledge. This is even more important, as the governance structure of the global knowledge economy looks less compact than Swiss cheese, leaving too much room for individual optimisation strategies. As failures occur in always shorter intervals and the externalities are rising steeply, the temptation to search for convenient scapegoats rises, too.

Due to the growing intensity of the conflicts and volatility across all vital systems, attempts for quick and partial fixes, without looking at the essential issues at stake, in particular the social and geopolitical gaps in the perception of fairness and equity, will have no real impact.

Regarding IP-related institutions, as the "external" pressure rises, the risk rises, too, that they reflexively retreat to self-referential, introverted patterns, which had proved successful in the past. This trend could be further reinforced by the exponentially rising backlog in IP applications, which is usually regarded as the source and not as a symptom of the problem. Such a retreat would function only if it were possible to decouple from the noise out there; under the current circumstances, it would not work anymore.

Alternatives are however not easy, for several complex reasons. The biggest difficulty is that there is a particular type of intelligence needed to grasp the current extremely complex and turbulent developments and most - not only IP-related - national and international hierarchical institutions and the thinking they produce are not a priori fit for this.

But even if there is an intelligible strategic analysis produced and there is the will for an outreach beyond the narrow patenting procedure, there are several dangers looming large.

How to navigate between the Scylla and Charybdis, between the accusations of illegitimate interference with political issues in the past and the calls to use the inherent capacities, beyond a strict legal-technical context, for the future?

The EPO, as a broad regional patent office with a considerable human, cultural and scientific background and potential decided that retreat is not a good option now. The "Scenarios for the Future" project is a visible expression of the will to understand, to reach out and to engage more pro-actively into the public debate, building new bridges. This is by no means pure PR, this intellectual outreach is combined with very concrete projects on the ground, with a multiplicity of strategic partners, in particular in technological fields where patent titles may cause considerable strain, if not applied or regulated properly.

In the second part of the presentation, the Scenarios are used to look into the matters arising from the collision of the increasingly conflicting trajectories of the worlds of ICT standards and of patents.