Patent Provisions as a Barrier to Open Innovation? Issues Concerning the Disclosure of Patent Ownership

Arina Gorbatyuk (KU Leuven) & Adrián Kovács, “Patent Provisions as a Barrier to Open Innovation? Issues Concerning the Disclosure of Patent Ownership”

Open  innovation  refers  to  a  trend  whereby  organizations  increasingly  rely  on  access  to  technologies developed by external parties and increasingly provide access to their own technologies to generate revenues. This trend is manifested in a growing market for patent monetization wherein patent rights are licensed and traded  on  a previously  unprecedented  scale. The appropriate  functioning  of  this  market  relies  to  a  great extent  on  the  notice  function  of  the  patent  system,  which  is  commonly ascribed  to  bethe  quid  pro  quo  of granting exclusive rights to patent owners. The ability to know in detail the boundaries that define a claimed invention  and  the  parties  that  hold  rights  to  this  invention  is undeniably a  fundamental  prerequisite  for  any patent transaction to occur. In this paper,we argue that whilst current patent provisions suffice to warrant an adequate disclosure of the identity of the initial patent applicant(s), they provide the public with only limited opportunities  to  identify  and  track  subsequent  changes  of  ownership.  This  allows  for  a  level  of  anonymity concerning patent ownership,which rather than facilitating technology transactions can instead be exploited as  a competitive  tool  to assert  patents  against  parties  that already  practice  the  patented  technology.  We illustrate  the  universal  nature  of  this  issue  based  on  a  comparative  analysis  of  thepatentprovisionsof  six patent  offices with  respect  tothe  recordation  of  patent  ownership  changes.  Our  findings  reveal  that  whilst most  patent  authorities  require  parties  to  file  notice  when  the  rights  to  a  patent  are  assigned,  provisions  for strictly  enforcing the  failure  to  meet  this  requirement  are  absent. As  a  potential  improvement  to  existing patent  provisions,  we  propose  four  minimal  requirements  that  future  initiatives  by  patent  offices  should impose to warrant a more adequate, accurate and timely disclosure of patent ownership information.