Konstantinos Karachalios from the European Patent Office talks about improving transparency in the patent system




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Video title: Konstantinos Karachalios from the European Patent Office talks about improving transparency in the patent system
Released on: August 10, 2011. © PharmaTelevision Ltd
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In this episode of PharmaTelevision News Review, Fintan Walton talks to Konstantinos Karachalios from the European Patent Office
Konstantinos's Role and responsibilities within Public policy issues at EPO
Fintan Walton:
Hello and welcome to PharmaTelevision News Review here at the LESI Conference in London, 2011. On this show I have Konstantinos Karachalios, who is from the European Patent Office and you are responsible for Public Policy Issues, welcome to the show.
Konstantinos Karachalios:
Thank you.
Fintan Walton:
First of all just Konstantinos, can we just ask you a little bit about your role within Public Policy Issues at the European Patent Office, what is that role?
Konstantinos Karachalios:
Yes, first of all is what are Public Policy Issues which are IP related and why affordity like the EPO engage it to this field. It started several years ago we did a very decent work which we called the scenario for the future and we tried to look at the context outside the patent system, what is the impact of the patent system in society and what might be let's say important changes in the associated context by impact of the patent system in the long-term. You know it's a very decent exercise and there we have identified issues and then we asked ourselves what are we going to do with this, this is the knowledge that we have just waiting that things happen or are we going to act, and then there step-by-step we developed activities and the framework which enable us to be proactive this is a reason why I am also here then giving a speech later and there are some nice examples what the patent system can do actively to diffuse tensions which are not necessary, which come from lack of knowledge, lack of evidence, lack of data and I think with all of this not only process but also the society at large.
Fintan Walton:
Sure, so in other words you are assisting the European Patent Office to identify those issues that will make the patent system much more transparent, much easier to use and overcome those obstacles that individuals would find or companies would find when dealing with the European Patent Office, would that be correct?
Konstantinos Karachalios:
Not only with the European Patent Office this is a broader than this, this is a systemic engagement which goes beyond the patent office it is for the patent system itself what we did a global system, we don't have a global patent, but the system is global in its dynamics let's say and we are here at the conference of LESI and this is the soft phase of the patent system, these are patent owners who are arranging to license to make available their patents to others, others are the coalitions of course, but in the past years a debate has become more virulent which is let's say the other side that says perhaps the patent system inhibit access to certain technologies in fields where necessary the technology that helps produce in the same time it make either access in the future of these technologies and some examples are technologies which could tackle the climate change or a important ICT standards the big platforms of telecommunications which are all private. Then there is essential medicines which is in your field of interest and there is a very virulent debate which is partly erratic it breakouts and then it disappears it is highly polarized very ideologized and there is a lack of data there and evidence what is earlier situation, just to give you an example which is from the pharmaceutical fields, I participated in a meeting in Brussels organized by the commission which the question was access of essential medicines for Africa and there were whole industry goes there both R&D and generics then the procumbent agencies, governments, UN institutions and so on and then after five minutes the issues of patents was on the table, there were one part arguing that patents make drugs for Africa more expensive, more difficult to have and companies saying but there have a patent in Africa what you are talking about and so on and then the coordinator of the meeting turned to me and said me can the patent system do something for this, can you tell us what is earlier situation and so this is a case.
Fintan Walton:
This is the real instance?
Konstantinos Karachalios:
where the patent system should act and deliver this clarity.
Fintan Walton:
Exactly which is beyond as you said, beyond the European Patent Office itself?
Konstantinos Karachalios:
Yes, it is the system itself.
Fintan Walton:
It is the system?
Konstantinos Karachalios:
Somebody has to do, let's say. And you can imagine that the same debate also broke out in the context of the climate change negotiations and very soon you have two camps, one saying we need to access to the technologies, developing country say we need access to the technologies to tackle climate change and these technologies we are not producing them they are mainly done in the west and industrialized countries and we would need access we have to pay for it, and this is not moral because you have created this mess with a CO2 concentration you have to pay for it now and we cannot sign any conversion, any contract without knowing the costs, it's a cost question and so the other camp says this is not an issue it's not monopoly there we will give you very cheap and so on where they say can we trust you and this is a question this is again a debate very polarized and very erratic which frequents to delay the main negotiation process. So far us the question was being a part of this of the patent system and we had identified this it was very interesting in the year 2005 when we were about to write the scenarios we identified that it might be a conflict the trajectories of this climate change debate of the patent system at that time we made also a Google search to see what is their meterage about it, zero there was nothing there now if you do it you would find 20 million hits something like this and our work was hit number one we were the first, we did not create this but we saw it coming and then we said can we do something and one of our scenarios is the scenarios of the climate change story and how it forces the patent system to adapt.
Patent information system and classifications
Fintan Walton:
Sure, so moving from that to some of the other activities you've done to try and help the system you've been very successful in opening up the search ability of patents, could you describe that work which you've done?
Konstantinos Karachalios:
Yes, this was done, this was let's say a side a spin-off of a project we started because we said we must do something then we made an alliance with the United Nations Environment Program and with the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development which is an NGO Geneva based and we should look in also either side campus LESI was one of our partners and also our International Chamber of Commerce we made really a consortium to tackle this question, can we produce evidence of data in this fields of climate change relevant technologies and we did a study and I am going to present the results today in nutshell we could not identify clear cases where there is a mono policy situation of danger of blockades and so on and we even discovered that there is a let's say energiness on the part of their technology clauses to make this technology available to developing countries at a even more flexible terms and more lenient, we made a licensing survey also to get this, but then we found was something else that the real problem was the data it was very difficult to get that aligned data to come to this conclusions even for us the experts. So we said what is going on here, I mean the patent system does not inhibit access to the technologies but it does not facilitate access to the information about itself about these technologies and this is an issue, because it goes to the core of the patent system, it goes against our internal promise because patent comes from patere, it is a Latin word which means to disclose to lay open, patere (indiscernable) open doors it is in Latin and so if the system does not create patency but latency that means you don't know what is there and if somebody attacks you then you come to the contrary of what you promise, so in the long time you have a problem in society and we have to work on this.
Fintan Walton:
So you are making patents more transparent, easy to find, and down right down to important levels of classification ends up?
Konstantinos Karachalios:
Absolutely, because the problem is there abundance, we have really 60 millions of patents out there of documents and every year come millions more that means it is impossible to track, if you don't have a system of putting this information the context that makes sense to the users outside the system and we organize the patent system organize this knowledge according to our criteria which are important for us to do our work, but there are not there what people outside need and this is where we disclosing them to the public. So it is like coming in a huge library with millions of books around and there is nobody there to help you to find what you want so it doesn't help up in an advent and this creates problems so people the critics of the system you have an easy gain to say okay we don't know what is you cannot tell us so we assume everything is patented everywhere always, which is not true and this is where you start having problems.
Fintan Walton:
Sure, so it's very important breakthrough to be able to catch that and that is now active and operative?
Konstantinos Karachalios:
Yes, we showed that this can be done we had an experience, we did it for nanotechnology which is also tricky field because that technology can be everywhere, we cannot put it in a hierarchical scheme it can be in space industry food technologies or in cosmetics everywhere.
Fintan Walton:
In pharmaceuticals?
Konstantinos Karachalios:
Pharmaceuticals yes. So we did a matrix system to give this information of how to present to the public in the way they understand it, so we applied this in principle also for climate change technologies and this goes much more complex because in this case we have to define what we are talking about, what are these technologies are relevant, it was a big work first the taxonomy then to get their patented technologies and then to make a system that it can be updated by itself that you have the collective intelligence of the whole patent system working on it without even noticing it. And we did it, we defined it, we made the patent searches we made in a way that it can be updated and it is now free for use for everyone and this really interesting that means information that you would need months of work of experts to get.
Fintan Walton:
Which is costly?
Konstantinos Karachalios:
Very costly and with this cost or so with very experienced patent attornies they were failing at then it was not only gotten they couldn't do it, now it can be done within minutes not to say within seconds that means what we have established we have established a new way of making this strategically important knowledge accessible in very easy way in broad consequence and this is a new public good in where you have a global knowledge economy and this is something that the patent system can do with very small resources it was really minimal compared to the overall resources we put for classifying and so on and I think this is something that we should do not just IPO we are doing it already and we are going to expand it also in other sectors, we are doing for the energy generation sector, now we are doing for the energy consumption like building, transportation, industrial processes, waste retreatment and so on, but I mean there are also other sectors where we come from where this could be applied this is a generic method.
EPO: Future tasks and projects
Fintan Walton:
Actually Konstantinos, just on the last bit of this interview could you what are your next tasks, what are your next key projects that you want to try and implement?
Konstantinos Karachalios:
We continue now this categorization, as I told you we did it for energy generation now we continue for other sectors which were defined by the inter government panel on climate change, building, transportation and so on. I would very much like to expand it also to cover other industries like industry where you come from, I think this is very essential, but there we would need a new boost to do it and another very important field is the field of standards and patents ICT standards which is also the question of access to big technology platforms, I mean what we do as a patent system we fragmentize knowledge and privatize it and then people have to take it together to create technology platforms and drug is also a technology platform it is not so easier and also in the mobile, telephone and so on there you need to put this together and there are so many private sectors it's not easy, so there is a governance issue there which is very interesting you have to look into it.
Fintan Walton:
Konstantinos Karachalios, thank you very much indeed for coming on the show.
Konstantinos Karachalios:
It was my pleasure, thank you for inviting me.
Fintan Walton
Dr Fintan Walton is the Founder and CEO of PharmaVentures . After completing his doctoral research on the genetics of cell proliferation at the University of Michigan(US)and Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland), Dr Walton gained broad commercial experience in biotechnology in management positions at Bass and Celltech plc (1982-1992).
Konstantinos Karachalios
Senior Officer
Konstantinos Karachalios has worked at the European Patent Office since 1987. Head of the International Academy from 1999-2000; Manager of the Project for Africa and the Middle East in the Directorate for International Technical Co-operation, 2000-2004. Since 2004 active in the field of External Relations, with focus on Public Policy Issues, i.e. the big challenges that may impact the future of the patent system: governance of knowledge regimes, accessibility and transparency issues (related to climate change technologies, essential drugs, food security, ICT standards etc), emergence of new technologies (biotechnology and gene-technology, nanotechnology, clean energy etc.). Scenarios analyst, co-editor of the book "Scenarios for the Future: How might IP regimes evolve by 2025? What global legitimacy might such regimes have?" As initiator and coordinator of the international project between EPO, UNEP and ICTSD on IP and Climate change, he is EPO's Contact Person and Head of Delegation in the UNFCCC.
PharmaVentures
PharmaVentures is a corporate finance and transactions advisory firm that has served hundreds of clients worldwide in relation to their strategic deal making in the pharmaceutical, life science and healthcare sectors. Our key offerings include: Transactions / deal negotiations; Product / technology valuations; Deal term advice; Due diligence & expert reports; Strategy formulation; Alliance management; and Expert opinion for litigation/arbitration cases. PharmaVentures provides the global expertise to ensure our clients generate the highest possible return on investment from all their deal making activities. We have experience of all therapeutic areas and can offer advice on both product and technology commercialisation.
European Patent Office
The European Patent Office is one of the two organs of the European Patent Organization (EPOrg), the other being the Administrative Council. The EPO acts as executive body for the Organization while the Administrative Council acts as its supervisory body as well as, to a limited extent, its legislative body. The actual legislative power to revise the European Patent Convention lies with the Contracting States themselves when meeting at a Conference of the Contracting States. Within the European Patent Office, examiners are in charge of studying European patent applications, filed by applicants, in order to decide whether to grant a patent for an invention. The patents granted by the European Patent Office are called European patents.