The IRI hosted international panel discussion: The INSITU Forum

On August 10, 2016 the 3rd IN SITU Forum took place at the Institute for legal Informatics. The INSITU Forum is a panel discussion organized by the institute for Legal Informatics primarily for the students of the INSITU Summerschool in IT/IP Law. The event is of course always open to anyone that has a keen interest in IT and IP law.

The main topic of this 3rd INSITU Forum was the possible repercussions of technological innovation to human rights. For this purpose the panelists gave insights to German, Indian, UK-European and US-European Perspectives.

The Panel Discussion started with an overview to the role of the interface between IP, competition and human rights, provided by Prof. Dr. Abbe Brown.

Prof. Dr. Brown first referred to the benefits and drawbacks of the current IP Law instruments. While IP may increase development of new technologies it also gives rise to diverse conflicts. According to Prof. Dr. Brown, such conflicts may particularly rise in cases, where the patent owner prevents researchers from using technology that has a wide social importance, e.g. for medical or climate research. She underlined that such obstacles for innovation can be overcome by a new and wider approach to IP, since IP on its own is not enough to stimulate innovation and growth. According to her, competition law and human rights shall be introduced as equal partners to IP in the international IP system, since a balanced interaction between these legal fields would lead to outcomes that enable a wider and more equitable access to technology.

After that, IN SITU Student and PhD candidate Jayanta Ghosh LL.M. gave an overview to the Indian Patent System and its interplay with TRIPS, The Agreement on Trade Related aspects of Intellectual Property law. He also gave an overview over the Indian Constitution protecting Human rights in particular the right to access life-saving medicines.

Thirdly, the IRI research associate Ioannis Revolidis LL.M. examined the question whether Data Protection may hinder technological innovation, by comparing the US and EU approaches on Data Protection Law in the field of Medical research. Opposed to a more market orientated and rather flexible approach of the US HIPAA act, Mr. Revolidis presented the basic points of the recently adopted Data Protection Regulation in the EU, stating that the latter seems to be a step in the right direction, even if incomplete. He further pointed that there seems to be a clear competitive disadvantage in the field of innovation for Europe, as the number of medical patents in Europe is four times lower than in the US. In order to illustrate the flexibility of the US data protection law, Mr. Revolidis also gave insights to the HIPAA.

During the final part, the panelists discussed how innovation could be enhanced, without infringing the privacy of individuals. In particular, they have discussed on whether “research” and “innovation” can be regarded as the same, when it comes to finding the balance between technological process and the privacy of individuals.

According to Mr. Revolidis, they must not necessarily be considered the same. However, he also stated that innovation is more or less based on a well-founded research. According to him, an intrusion into privacy might be proportionate, if not only technological innovation but, amongst others, also public health is considered as a conflicting interest. He, therefore, stated that a balance between privacy and innovation cannot be determined by considering technological innovation as the mere interest, but rather by taking all circumstances and competing interests into consideration.

Mr. Ghosh explained that India does not have a specific law or legislation for medical research. According to Mr. Ghosh, access to personal data for research purposes is not an issue in India.

During the discussion round Prof. Dr. Brown also pointed that the privacy boards in Scotland seem to have drawn inspiration from both the US HIPAA Act and the EU article 29 Working Party, introducing a very balanced proportionality test for research orientated data processing. Such Privacy Boards are usually composed by individuals experienced in reviewing a wide variety of stakes included in clinical research.

After the panel discussion, the students and the panelists met for a Barbecue and get-together on the Conti-Campus.

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