The European Centre for Space Law (ECSL), created by ESA in 1989, after having studied the legal protection of remote sensing satellite data, initiated in 1992 a second research on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR's) in Outer Space. This study will be presented at a Workshop jointly organised by ECSL and the Spanish Centre for Space Law, in Madrid on 26 May 1993.
Intellectual Property Rights in Outer Space is a legal area which will gather importance in the near future due to the expected increase of experimenting in the microgravity environment, especially on board space stations and space platforms.
When ECSL initiated this project it was felt that the legal framework for microgravity activities in outer space, and particularly on board Columbus - the ESA contribution to the International Space Station Freedom - may not be clear enough to protect the interests of the European industry. This should therefore emphasize the need for harmonized European, or even international, provisions in this area. A questionnaire was sent to European industry as well as to public and private entities involved, technically or legally, in activities in outer space. This was to ascertain what, in their opinion, are the legal issues when inventions, patented or not, are used in outer space and whether the existing patent laws cover these activities in a sufficient manner.
The invited speakers at this workshop will address the major issues regarding Intellectual Property Rights in Outer Space from technical, political and legal points of view. Since most of the participants are experts in patent law, this event will also be an opportunity for them to share their views and express their opinion on the next steps which should be pursued in order to reach a clear legal structure for the future investors in microgravity activities. For further information on this Workshop, please contact ECSL Secretariat, at ESA Paris, (tel. 33-1-42.73.76.05.; fax 33-1- 188.8.131.52).