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Interview with Paul Fehlner

CIP is 20 years old this year.  What are the major changes that you have seen in the IP world over the past 20 years?

This is one area where harmonization has increased. The other big change is that the US has become more anti-patent by elevating patent eligibility to a super-patentability requirement that knocks out important biotechnology and digital technology inventions.

What do you see as the major IP changes or challenges for the next 20 years?

On the positive side, personal data may be recognized and protected as an IP right. IP-fueled open innovation platforms may accelerate development across fields beyond software and basic research. On the negative side, anti-IP forces made up of critics of IP rights on the left and entrenched businesses that want to suppress competition on the right both have the potential to harness popular opinion against new technology, and IP will be a victim or at best become irrelevant.

What advice do you have on how to manage IP in times of crisis?

Consider alternate scenarios and make decision that would be the same for all or most of the scenarios. It’s unlikely that any scenario will arrive as anticipated, but decisions that are right for different theoretical scenarios are more likely to work for actual future events.

Will this current crisis create changes in how IP is used or managed and, will it last beyond the crisis?

The COVID-19 challenge has the potential to demonstrate the value of open innovation in biopharmaceutical research, reducing the tendency to secrecy in terms of manufacturing, clinical data, and regulatory filings. The COVID-19 Technology Access Platform, based on the acknowledgment of and respect for IP rights, could head off anti-IP actions such as compulsory licenses and arbitrary patent revocations or blatant refusal to enforce patent rights.

About Paul Fehlner’s role

I support research, development, and commercialization of products by building a comprehensive IP plan around the company strategy. We keep elements of exclusivity, reputation, and collaboration continuously in mind. All this work has to fit into the company’s culture. I am involved in company management, especially climate and culture.