Intellectual Property & Trust

TrustTalk, a sister blog by IPEG consultant Severin de Wit, as well as the TrustTalk podcast cover all aspects of trust. As of December 1, 2020, IPEG will keep its readers and followers updated on trust aspects that IPR practitioners may be interested in. Trust and intellectual property, is there any relationship other than what mostly comes to mind: a Trust holding (third party) IPRs?

Trust and New Technologies

Trust plays a major role in the development and acceptance of many new technical developments – like artificial intelligence (AI). As digital technology becomes an ever more central part of every aspect of everyone’s life, people should be able to trust it. Trustworthiness is also a prerequisite for its uptake.

This is a chance for Europe, given its strong attachment to values and the rule of law as well as its proven capacity to build safe, reliable and sophisticated products and services from aeronautics to energy, automotive and medical equipment. As the European Commission puts it in the White Paper “On Artificial Intelligence – A European approach to excellence and trust”:

A common European approach to AI is necessary to reach sufficient scale and avoid the fragmentation of the single market. The introduction of national initiatives risks to endanger legal certainty, to weaken citizens’ trust, and to prevent the emergence of a dynamic European industry.

According to the European Commission the key elements of a future regulatory framework for AI in Europe that will create a unique ‘ecosystem of trust’. To do so, it must ensure compliance with EU rules, including the rules protecting fundamental rights and consumers’ rights, in particular for AI systems operated in the EU that pose a high risk. Building an ecosystem of trust is a policy objective in itself, and should give citizens the confidence to take up AI applications and give companies and public organizations the legal certainty to innovate using AI.

Trust and the Patent System

The European Patent Office refers to trust in the “values” they claim to endorse:

All our relationships within our Office and with partners around the world will prosper through trust, fairness, mutual respect, adaptability, collaboration and a commitment to excellence.

If you want to get some guidance on what that specifically means, it remains completely silent. So “trust” is fashionable word in EPO’s smooth marketing campaign yet it remains fully unclear what, if any, vision the EPO has on how trust and the patent system relate and how that influences the work of the EPO. Google the words “trust” and “EPO” and you end up with an blog post of March 2018, from Thorsten Bausch of Hoffmann Eitle, who expresses his skepticism whether these “values” were indeed respected under the former EPO President, Benoît Battistelli. The complaints are at the time that the former President received little trust from his employees. Yet again, no vision, no theory, no research on what exactly “trust” means in the world of patents.

So here is ample room for further research into the role of trust in the patent system. IPEG blog readers are kindly invited to share their views on this subject, so we can blog about it in the near future.

To get inspiration we will regularly (re)post TrustTalk blog posts or interviews with professionals in different areas who speak about the role of trust in their work.

Here is the latest podcast (on Global Institutions and Technology-Mediated Trust, an interview with Dr. Balázs Bodó, a researcher at the Institute of Information Law at the University of Amsterdam, who describes three dimensions of “technology-mediated trust”. The known and unknown risks of new technologies, how we interact with these technologies, and whether they are trustworthy. Listen to what he has to say about this:

For TrustTalk blogposts, visit the TrustTalk website: