Working group roadmap: Intellectual property

Kristin Newman, MPEGLA

Biotech patentware... doing biotech and pharma patent work. Anything you can do with a patent, I've done it. And then I joined MPEG-LA, a patent pool, about 5 years ago to evaluate and execute patent pool licensing programs in the biotech space.

I have a comfortable relationship with patents. I think patent pools are a good solution for standards, which are about sharing. And patent pools are a way to share patents that relate to a standard. I mean this with sincerity-- I'm not wed to patents for the only way to handle innovation and intellectual property. I know they work well in certain sectors like biopharma where you need to raise a lot of money to get a product from idea to product. But I see there's a strong view here about open-source as a viable way to deal with intellectual property, management and sharing.

We need somebody who knows about open-source on our IP committee. I hope that some of you have experience there will step forward to help us understand open-source. We'll evaluate together what GP-write should be doing with respect to intellectual property. It's exciting to me because we can all write on a blank sheet of paper. I don't hae any slides because it's a blank piece of paper right now. We can talk about patents, we can talk about open-source, we can marry the two if they can be merged, we can do one for biopharma output in this project, and something else for the software and hardware side. There's no better example than the convergence of biotech and hi-tech than this project. We can be creative and work together and figure something out.

The IP committee-- and we might rename this to the sharing materials data and innovation committee- to get away from these canonical old-fashion terms about intellectual property, but we need more of you, I hope that some of you will step forward and we want to have a monthly phone call and have an intellectual property statement we want to have a framework for evaluating intellectual property as we have some pilot projects.

We want some guidelines-- we need careful thought here because they might become-- we should give careful consideration to this. Starting from first principles, we want broad dissemination of the fruits of GP-write. From what I've heard in the last few days and in the last two meetings, there is going to be amazing things coming out of this project, intellectual output and I think we are all in favor of...

At the same time, many of you were talking about curing disease, talking about applications that need to get commercialized, taking hte basic sicnece we're going to learn, and turning it into products that can continue the human condition on earth. Those are going to take a lot of money to move to product and move through regulatory hurdles. So balancing these broad goals of wanting to have widespread dissementation with the goals of commercializing the products, do we want to even start a company, do we want to contribute to job growth in this country, we can do all of those things and it's going to take balancing the two.

So that's what this committee is in really a terrific condition to give a lot of great thought to. I want to talk about history for a few moments. In 1858, Abraham Lincoln was an inventor and he held a patent. And he also wrote some words on a lot of subjects. He delivered a lecture on discoveries and inventions and when he talked about the patent system, he said it adds the fuel of interest to the fire of genius.

The fuel of interest is the investment money. Okay. That's what fuels these projects forward so that they can be realized. Patents are a critical element of this because investment capital is fical. This was important for giving investors the protection for what they need. It protects investors to get a return on their investment. What other forms of intellectual property policy, whether open-source, could also help to fuel interest? That's my piece.


Q: What are the differences and what are the inefficiences...

A: .. yes.

Q: A lot of funding agencies have their own policies for intellectual property, as well. The other thing I've always kind of vagu... not a fault.. to allow basically a royalty-free license for research to enable academics to freely use all of the intellectual property.

A: Free license for research is a concept that is common in the life science real. It's an unspoken rule that you don't go collect money on basic research.

Q: There's an important piece of community history that could be drawn on to help bootstrap this process. A few years back, Creative Commons had a project called Science Commons that was looking at these issues, about IP issues and supporting innovation. If you are not in touch with him, I would suggest getting touch with John Wilbanks. I think he is at Sage bionetworks these days. Very valuable resource for helping get through a whole bunch of bootstrap questions which have already been thought about and have some useful legal code ideas in place on them.

A: Yes we are collecting resources and examples of other structures put in other groups. We want to evaluate all of them and take a ground-up approach and figure out what works for us, not necessarily top-down what we should do based on what others have done.

Q: We ended up in a really nice conversation about ways of sharing innovation-- I do want to weigh in, it was my suggestion to upgrade the name of this working group, beyond IP, but to include sharing of data and materials as a key piece of what's going to be the currency for the project to happen, and there's some innovations like open MTA from the Biobrick Foundation about moving stuff.