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CONTACT: Amy Smorodin
January 17, 2006
(202) 289-8928

PFF Hosts IP Summit in Prague
Materials, Information Available on PFF Site

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - The Progress & Freedom Foundation has just completed co-hosting an all-day summit on intellectual property. "Digital Europe 2006: Intellectual Property and Innovation in the Digital World," co-hosted with CERGE-EI and the Liberalni Institut, featured presentations by PFF fellows. They were joined by European policymakers, corporate executives and academics. Presentations and real-time blog entries on the conference can be found on PFF's dedicated Digital Europe 2006 web site.

PFF President Ray Gifford gave a presentation on openness and the political economy of intellectual property. "As a greater portion of a nation's productivity and wealth are premised on intellectual property rights, the political economy pressures will get even greater," he said. One common line of thinking has emerged: "I like my rights and want them protected; I do not like your rights, and want them limited or eliminated." Given the difficulties in assessing the appropriate intellectual property balance in a rapidly changing digital age, Gifford said, "In the end, policymakers should hesitate before engaging in wholesale reform of IPRs, looking to make improvements on the margin and where clear and agreed problems exist. However, private ordering should lead the way toward defining the contours and limits of intellectual property rights."

The interaction of standards, interoperability and intellectual property was the theme of PFF Senior Fellow James DeLong's address. DeLong, director of PFF's Center for the Study of Digital Property ( ), noted that proprietary standards are a part of everyday life, right down to the popular iPod. He discussed how the underpinning of IP argues in favor of permitting the setting and ownership of proprietary standards where the market supports it. DeLong also addressed the free and open software movement and outlines what he views as its "fundamental weakness" and how this weakness drives its political agenda.

Patents are increasingly a part of the intellectual property debate in the digital age, said PFF Senior Fellow Tom Lenard in his presentation. Lenard, Vice President for Research, demonstrated with statistics how this growth is occurring both as a measure of patents filed and patent litigation in the United States, and noted that more economic value is contained in intangible intellectual assets. He summarized the debate surrounding the patentability of software. In addition, he provided a compelling contrast on how pursuing trade secrets or patents can change a nation's economic output.

Panels addressed the economics of patents; the evolving nature of patents; standards, interoperability and intellectual property rights; and openness and the political economy of intellectual property policy. Keynotes were given by Dana Berova, Minister of Informatics for the Czech Republic; and U.S. Ambassador David Gross, U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy at the U.S. Department of State. Summaries and details of some of these presentations and keynotes can be found on the Digital Europe 2006 blog.

"Intellectual Property and Innovation in the Digital World" is The Progress & Freedom Foundation's second annual European summit. In February 2005, the Foundation organized Digital Europe 2005, which featured an all-day conference on standards, interoperability and intellectual property in Milan, Italy, and several presentations in Brussels, Belgium. PFF is building on its eleven-year track record in hosting the Aspen Summit, its annual gathering of the digital world's most prominent business leaders, probing thinkers and influential policymakers.

The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. It is a 501(c)(3) research & educational organization.



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