Report from Helsinki IP Summit: Arbitration, Pharma & Telecoms

4/2019 29.10.2019

First and foremost, I would like to point out that the thoughts presented in this report do not necessarily reflect any views of the panelists or speakers. Rather than an accurate descriptive report of what was said, the thoughts presented herein are to a large extent my own personal (i.e. not my employer’s or anyone else’s) spin-off ponderings based on a few points that were discussed. Here we go.

Photographer: Evgeniya Petrova
Photographer: Marcus Norrgård

The Helsinki IP Summit kicked off with a nice panel on arbitration and IP with 6 esteemed professionals (Bernt Juthström, Marco Torsello, Niklas Östman, Sakari Salonen, Antti Järvinen and Santtu Turunen) on the panel. This topic is actually quite rarely discussed even in a global setting and I personally found the discussion refreshing. Even if almost every argument could be debated, it is clear that one can find advantages when arbitration is compared to state litigation. They could, e.g., be speed, the expertise of the arbitrators or the possibility to select the arbitrators as well as being a “one-stop shop”. That is if you seek any of those qualities in your case, which may depend on which side you represent and other factors.

Further, business today is global and hence the need for global dispute resolution and enforcement is apparent. Arbitration may be perceived as being a global dispute resolution mechanism with extensive possibilities for enforcement. But even though arbitration may be perceived as global, IP rights as such are not. This creates a certain tension and raises a whole host of questions and topics which could be discussed. Further, arbitration vs. state litigation is not an “either or” generally speaking. Choosing one or the other should rather be an informed and reasoned strategical decision made on a case-by-case basis.

Good presentations and discussions always leave you with something to think about. A few questions that lingered in my mind after the sessions were: Can you effectively arbitrate the validity of an IP right, 1. erga omnes or 2. inter partes and does it matter if the right is registered (like patents) or unregistered (like trade secrets or copyright)? And if your answer is no to any of the questions, why not? Further, if arbitration would indeed be preferred, why aren’t most IP disputes solved in arbitration instead of litigation? An alternative for an answer may actually lie in the first question.

Photographer: Evgeniya Petrova

On the 2nd day of the Summit, pharma and telecoms were on the agenda. What both lines had in common was the quite clear focus on the future and new technologies. In relation to the first, it was interesting to hear how also the pharmaceutical sector heavily is and will be impacted by the fast moving progress in technology, focusing more and more on transformative innovation as well as external collaborations. One of the speakers in the pharma sessions well noted that the winners will be the ones who “walk the talk”. The importance of IP rights as incentives for innovation in the pharma sector had also been confirmed in a recent economic study. The development towards precision/personal medicine was also touched upon. When it came to telecoms, 5G was on the agenda and it was interesting to hear views on how 5G may change quite a few things in society. Exciting times we are living in!

Aiheet: IP rights