Consilience 2016: A Conference on Open Access and IP – Mark your calendars!

11206498_393017597549498_8072283672936020159_oSpicyIP takes great pleasure in announcing a celebration of its ten years of making IP spicy with Consilience 2016: A Conference on Open Access and IP! The event will be jointly hosted this year by SpicyIP and the Law and Technology Society, a student run committee engaged in promoting research, awareness and scholarship in the field of Technology Law, and supported by the MHRD Chair in IP (NLS), at National Law School of India University, Bangalore, on 28th and 29th May, 2016. The full schedule of the event is available on its website, here.

About Consilience

Consilience‘ is the annual flagship conference of the Law and Technology Society of NLSIU, Bangalore. Previous editions of the Conference have focused on themes such as ‘Net Neutrality’ and ‘Cloud Computing’. It provides a platform for some of the best minds in law and technology to gather, brainstorm and deliberate on the most challenging issues at the interface of law and technology, and for framing concrete policy suggestions to be taken up at various international fora.

Spicy Surprises for our 10 year anniversary!

As part of SpicyIP’s Anniversary celebrations, we are also happy to announce that this conference will contain special releases, created just for this event. On the first day, we will be releasing our very own Open Access Music Video, which will be presented by SpicyIP. Following up, on the second day, we will be releasing the Open Access IP Dictionary in a presentation by SpicyIP and the Nirma University team.

Consilience 2016 – Open Sesame!

To set the stage for the rest of the event, we will be kicking things off at a high note with a Keynote Address from the phenomenal Professor Richard Jefferson, the pioneer behind Biological Open Source, The Lens, and Cambia! Currently a Professor of Biological Innovation at the Queensland University of Technology, Professor Jefferson was named as one of the world’s 50 most influential technologists in 2003 by the Scientific American.

The theme for this year’s Consilience is Open Sesame: Unlocking IP to Unleash the Commons. The term ‘Open Access’ has become part of the IP vocabulary thanks to a powerful campaign in the last few decades,  and today finds resonance in a cornucopia of sectors, ranging from educational content (Khan Academy) to Biotechnology (BiOS) to Artificial Intelligence research (Theano). Traditionally, Open Access debates have focused on two core issues: Access to Knowledge/Goods at affordable prices (A2K), and Closed versus Open Creative Processes.

At Consilience 2016, however, we plan to kick things up a notch. We will be exploring not only Open Access as an IP regime in-and-of itself, but also venturing into new areas such as Open Access within IP regimes and the multiple facets of transparency, and the Developing Country Dimension. As our readers will know, these are topics very close to the heart of the work SpicyIP has done over its decade of existence, and what better way to celebrate our Anniversary than to highlight and delve into these issues in a new light with some of the best minds in the IP field!

In particular, this joint conference seeks to foster newer areas of enquiry as outlined below:

i) The Developing Country Dimension

Most discussions around IP and open access revolve around “developed countries” and their specific socio-economic context. To this extent, the frame fails to account for developing countries and their concerns. Illustratively, while developed countries take “bandwidth” for granted, developing countries may face serious issues on this front, preventing them from meaningful participation in the open access movement (which largely relies on content publication/ dissemination via the internet).

This conference will therefore bring some attention to the developing country dimension and deliberate on the current frame and how it might need to be adapted and/or overhauled.

ii) Fostering Openness within IP Regimes

The classic IP vs Open Access frame is predicated on the notion that IP regimes are inherently “closed”. While this may hold true (to a significant extent), it fails to account for the potential openness in IP regimes. In other words, IP regimes could be pried open to foster greater levels of openness and transparency.

One could even argue that openness lies at the heart of IP regimes; for it is the sine qua non for the grant of the right in the first place. Illustratively, patents are to be compulsorily disclosed and published, should the applicant desire a twenty-year monopoly protection. Such disclosure is meant to aid the public in accessing and working the patented invention, and learning from it in the process. And yet, not many have focused on this important disclosure function of patents.

Further some regimes such as the Indian patent regime mandate that all patentees to compulsorily disclose the extent to which they have translated their patent into commercial wares and “worked” it.  Failing such working, the patented invention could be subject to a compulsory license. Unfortunately, this provision meant to shed more light on the patent innovation nexus and the extent to which patents serve the public interest is currently observed more in the breach.

Similarly, provisions such as compulsory licensing aim to permit competitors to access patented technology in a bid to produce more accessible and affordable technological wares and serve the public interest better.

Though far from ideal, an effective deployment of these various provisions is likely to yield an IP regime that is far more “open” and “transparent” than is currently the case.  Developing countries that are newer entrants to the patent land-space and have less of an entrenched IP centric system possess far greater latitude to experiment and unleash more openness within their IP regimes.

The Sessions planned for the event are as follows:

  1. Open Innovation
  2. Open Education
  3. Open Law/Policy
  4. Future of the Commons

The full list of the panels and the speakers is available here.

Attendance and Registration

SpicyIP and the Law and Technology Society invite you to join us for what is sure to be an absolutely fascinating event! The conference is open to the public, but attendance is subject to registration prior to the event, and a confirmation of the same from the Registration Desk. Registration costs for attending the whole event over the two days are as follows:

  1. Corporates: Rs. 5000
  2. Non-profits: Rs. 3000
  3. Students: Rs 1000
  4. Other individuals: Rs 2500

The Gala Dinner on the first day is sponsored by the Texas A&M University. To register, please send an email stating your name, designation and institutional affiliation to [email protected] with subject “Registration for Consilience”.

Our special thanks go out, of course, to our Sponsors: Obhan and Associates, Software Freedom Law Centre, and the Indian Cellular Association.

Watch this space, and the website, for more exciting news.


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