Fostering innovation and collaboration

Photo by Mary Knox Merrill.

Northeastern University will host the IP/Innovation Connection Conference on Monday and Tuesday for scholars, innovators, entrepreneurs, investors and policymakers from across the country who want to explore the dynamic relationship between intellectual property and innovation.

The interdisciplinary conference — sponsored by the School of Law and College of Business Administration — arrives at an opportune time: On Sept. 16, President Obama signed the America Invents Act, which the White House calls “historic patent reform legislation” that may lead to the creation of new jobs and businesses.

The goals of the conference, said program organizer and Northeastern professor Susan Barbieri Montgomery, are twofold: to foster critical analysis and pragmatic study of the dynamic relationship between intellectual property (IP) and innovation and to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration and scholarship.

“We are very excited to create a space for people with different views to come together and discuss the double-edge of intellectual property exclusivity and its impact on the innovation environment in the United States,” said Montgomery, executive professor of law and business.

The slate of events include a number of panel discussions on a variety of topics, such as new growth theory, the future of innovation, and the impact of IP on innovation. Expert panelists include a chief economist at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, Stuart Graham, executives from nanotechnology, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology companies and faculty members from Boston University, Suffolk University and the University of Cincinnati.

An invitation-only event on Monday will feature presentations by Edward McNierney, chief technology officer of One Laptop Per Child, and John Maeda, president of Rhode Island School of Design.

Robert O. Lindefjeld, general counsel and chief IP counsel of Nantero, Inc., said he looks forward to exploring a potential readjustment of the IP/Innovation connection on Tuesday.

“One of the underpinnings of our patent system is the provision of a financial incentive — in the form of providing a period of exclusivity — aimed at encouraging people to innovate and to publicly share innovations early,” he said. “The incentive, however, can be a statutory ‘one-size fits all’ reward that might require adjustment.”