Inner and Outer Limits of Patent Protection (PatLim)

  • Norrgård, Marcus (Projektinjohtaja)
  • Pitkänen, Olli (Projektinjohtaja)
  • Ballardini, Rosa Maria (Osallistuja)
  • Virtanen, Perttu (Osallistuja)
  • Lee, Nari (Osallistuja)

Projektin yksityiskohdat


PatLim is a truly international and collaborative research project with an ambitious research agenda striving at oustanding research
results on fundamental questions of patent law. It combines top Finnish academic expertise (Hanken School of Economics and Aalto
University/the Helsinki Institute of Information Technology HIIT as consortium partners) with Finnish and foreign partners (The IPR
University Center at the University of Helsinki, Center for Information and Innovation Law at the University of Copenhagen,
University of Cambridge, UC Berkeley, University of Oxford and University of Bayreuth). It would not be possible to research the
complex subject-matter of PatLim in sufficient detail and, at the same time, with a holistic approach without a consortium; there are
simply not enough resources in any individual research institution in Finland for this kind of ambitious research project.
At the centre of PatLim is the interaction between law and technology. The goal is to provide a richer understanding of the ways that
patent law reacts to and provokes complex technological phenomena. The methodology employed is legal dogmatics, comparative law,
Law & Economics, Law & Technology and quantitative and qualitative empirical research. Although PatLim considers the software
sector, the goal of PatLim is to present research results that are applicable in other fields of technology, such as biotechnology, that, in
the same way as software, are characterized by cumulative, incremental innovation models.
The patent system is designed with one type of invention in mind: a new device or machine covered by a single patent. In incremental
component industries, however, where new developments build upon existing technologies and innovation occurs through small
improvements, modern products can easily be covered by dozens or even hundreds of different patents. This poses a severe problem for
the operation of the patent system.
PatLim covers a broad range of issues spanning from the initial filing of the patent applications and going all the way to the
enforcement phase. Accordingly, a clear distinction should to be made between the acquisition of a patent right (the inner limits of
patent protection) and the way it is used (the outer limits of patent protection). Specifically, issues relating to patentable subject matter,
novelty, inventive step, and disclosure can be considered “inner limits”, while patent flooding, hold-up problems, royalty stacking,
enforcement and licensing concerns define the “outer limits” of (software) patent protection.
Apart from a theoretical part PatLim also includes an empirical study. Empirical data concerning the reasons and consequences of the
outer and inner limits of patent protection in the software sector are currently not readily available. Missing are especially data on the
European scenario. Readily available information on the issue is particularly critical at the moment, when Europe after many years of
discussions, seems to be getting closer to reach harmonization in the patent field, under projects such as the European Community
Patent (COMPAT) and the European Patent Litigation Agreement (EPLA). As desirable as the harmonization of the European patent
system might be, the creation of a unique European patent court to deal with patent issues all across Europe, as it currently stands, raises
serious patent ‘quality’ concerns, as well as anxieties over the effectiveness of the future patent examination system.
The extreme importance that software plays in our society is undeniable. At the same time, this is one of the industries that are most
affected by both the inner and the outer patent limits. Thus, there is an impellent need to deeply investigate software-related patent
issues before taking any step forward. Neglecting this could, in fact, lead to wrong policy decisions as well as inefficient solutions for
the whole patent system.
Funding period: 1.9.2011-31.8.2015.

Amount of funding 800.000 euros (of which 50 % to Hanken)
Todellinen alku/loppupvm01/09/201231/10/2016
  • Seminar on the Unified Patent Court

    Marcus Norrgård (Puhuja: pääpuhuja (keynote))

    3 marraskuuta 2015

    Aktiviteetti: Tapahtumaan osallistumisen ja tapahtuman järjestämisen tyypitKonferensseihin, kursseille ja seminaareihin osallistuminen ja näiden järjestäminen