Near the end of 2016, a new multidisciplinary research center was forming in Europe under the title European IP Institutes Network (EIPIN) Innovation Society. The organization seeks to improve innovation in Europe by connecting innovative research projects with political leaders and stakeholders by providing recommendations on the research in the form of doctoral IP research. The establishment of this new research center in Europe underscores major differences in worldwide IP regimes, especially between the disarming of intellectual property rights in the United States in contrast to growing IP protections in Europe and China.
This work is to be conducted by a group of 15 Early Stage Researchers, doctoral-level positions which are to research topics of social interest and help guide innovators through the lifecycle of IP-intensive assets to commercialize those products in the marketplace. An advertisement for a job opening for PhD positions at EIPIN Innovation Society published a few weeks ago gives good insight into the kind of professional which EIPIN is looking to employ as an Early Stage Researcher. Job requirements include a relevant master’s degree in law, humanities or sciences; a demonstrable affinity with intellectual property law; high scholarly abilities as demonstrated by a master’s thesis; and must be in the first four years of a research career without having yet received a doctoral degree. Full-time gross monthly salary is € 2,191 ($2,295 USD) in the first year and increasing by the third year to a monthly salary € 2,672 ($2,799 USD).
The EIPIN Innovation Society is an institution formed under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 project, which seeks to bring research and development levels in Europe up to speed using a budget of € 77 billion ($80.6 billion USD). More specifically, EIPIN is a Marie Sklodowska Curie Innovative Training Network (ITN) for European Joint Doctorates (EJD), a program named for the renowned Polish scientist who made important discoveries in the field of radioactivity and atomic theory while working in France during the 20th century. Such ITN-EJDs are developed to promote interdisciplinary research goals with members from the public and the private sectors.
One of the goals of the EIPIN Innovation Society is to help develop more effective rules for IP enforcement, which will decrease enforcement costs while enhancing societal acceptance as part of the group’s Adjudication, Justice and Enforcement division. “The IP system, as a system of assignment of rights for incentivising creativity and innovation, is being increasing criticised and perceived by the large parts of society as unjust,” EIPIN’s website reads. Although EIPIN is focused on reducing perceptions of unfairness, it is also interested in fostering a hospitable environment for innovative industries.
Here in the United States, the current atmosphere surrounding patent rights makes innovation very difficult to pursue for startups and independent inventors, even those who have angel investor or venture capital funding. Instead of creating multidisciplinary research centers like EIPIN, legislative action in recent years has created the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), which fosters challenges to issued patents rather than encourages actual innovators to innovate. Even as the U.S. is stripping patent eligibility from important sectors of innovation like software and segments of the biotechnology sector, China is eating our lunch by revising its patent eligibility guidelines to encourage the filing of patents for software and business method inventions, and biotech innovations receive better protection in Canada and Europe than in the U.S. Instead of decrying “patent trolls” and unpatentable subject matter, China has been creating courts dedicated to IP litigation, which are increasingly being used by foreign plaintiffs who see good rates of success in those courts.
Perhaps the U.S. should be following the example of Europe and China. A progressive innovation based growth policy like China is pursuing, and institutions like the EIPIN would go a long way to pulling America from its economic malaise. After all, a hospitable environment for innovative industries would certainly be welcome in America after a decade of assault.