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Technologies and Intellectual Property in the World of Digital Avatars

Igor Drozdov, Chairman of the Executive Board of Skolkovo Foundation, moderated the discussion. The session brought together Elena Avakyan, Executive Director at Non-Profit Partnership ‘For Advancement of Corporate Law’; Volker Grassmuck, Media-Sociologist at Center for Advanced Internet Studies (CAIS); Ivan Zasurskiy, Head of the New Media and Communication Theory Department at Lomonosov Moscow State University; Torsten Kraul, Partner at Noerr LLP; Ekaterina Chukovskaya, Vice President for R&D at IP-Federation; and Irina Yakovleva, Legal Vice President at IPChain Association.

Igor Drozdov, Chairman of the Executive Board of Skolkovo Foundation, outlined two major discussion points. He said: "Intellectual property can generate considerable funds for proprietors, which is facilitated by modern technologies. The opportunities they bring along will constitute the first discussion point. Secondly, we will talk about access to intellectual property."

Torsten Kraul, Partner at Noerr LLP, spoke about emerging intellectual property forms, from know-how to data. He also mentioned that we still don't have a uniform approach to these new forms. For example, today the concept of know-how is dwarfed by other forms of intellectual property. Kraul added: "Know-how is knowledge and expertise that can not be exclusive. It is not registered, and remains valuable only if it comprises secret knowledge that is only accessible to a limited number of people. For it to be registered as your invention, you should apply for a patent. The EU, for example, has developed a new Directive on Know-How that protects and promotes these rights. According to it, there are know-how owners and objects subject to licensing. However, whether know-how qualifies as intellectual property still remains unclear. From my point of view, know-how should be considered as a hybrid phenomenon, because as soon as it appears online and becomes publicly accessible, it is no longer know-how."

As for data, there are intensive discussions on data monopoly in international community. However, a straightforward answer is still missing. “As said, data is the fuel of digital economy. For companies like Amazon, Google, and Facebook this is where real power is assumed to reside. It is crucial to realize that their power relies on knowledge about their clients and users. The vaster the knowledge, the stronger the power. Therefore, the question is whether owners of these companies have rights for the entire body of information. So far, intellectual property rights are inapplicable to data, as a matter of fact,” explained Noerr LLP Partner.

Elena Avakyan shared her view on identification of intellectual property owners and deals granting rights in the intellectual property asset to an individual or a legal entity, especially those located abroad. “We are living in fabulous times that once again demonstrate that today’s economy of data compels law to change. These changes imply transformation of basic fundamental paradigms to generate different social relations, because the situation is becoming less about ‘face-to-face’ and more about ‘digit-to-digit’ modalities. Therefore, the issue of identification and cross-border identification, in particular, is increasingly important. There is a lot of reason behind discussions on introducing a third party – some service entity – to ensure cross-border validation of the deal. Countries are trying to agree on this. Once again, amid these realities some instruments of international laws may emerge earlier than similar national laws. We are learning to live in the world of digital avatars. Therefore, my last point to mention may refer to what should be done in case the avatar is lost. In such scenario how would individuals claim their respective deals and prove their identity? No national legislation of the world has been able to answer this question so far,” concluded Elena Avakyan, Executive Director at Non-Profit Partnership ‘For Advancement of Corporate Law’.

St. Petersburg Legal Forum takes place 14 to 18 May, 2019 in the Eastern wing of the General Staff Building, State Hermitage. SPBILF is supported by the Russian Federation President and organized by the Ministry of Justice of Russian Federation.