Germany Parliamentary Library Study Tour 2007

A blog for attendees and those interested in learning more about the study tour.

Bavarian Parliament January 11, 2008

Kids learning about the LandtagOur final stop in Munich was the Bavarian Parliament (Bayerischer Landtag).  Upon arriving at the Maximilianeum, the building that houses the parliament, we met Dr. Markus Nadler, who gave us a tour of the library and the building.  First, we watched a video describing the legislative and electoral process in Bavaria.  Then Nadler gave us a brief history of the library and of the building.

The library was founded in 1819.  Its operations were suspended during the Nazi regime, and all its materials were sent to the state library.  Nadler said that not all of the titles were returned: before the war, the collection included 130,000 books, while the current count is 60,000.

The building was the brainchild of King Maximilian II of Bavaria, although he passed away before it was completed.  In addition to housing the parliament, the Maximilianeum is the home of the Maximilianeum Scholarship Foundation, which educates “talented Bavarian youths (of any social rank) to achieve that level of academic and spiritual education requisite for meeting the higher tasks of state service” (Bayerischer Landtag, 2004, p. 10).  In fact, the Foundation is the owner of the building.  The parliament only rents its space there.

Nadler said that the library weeds its collection as new titles comes in.  The same amount of books that are added are discardrf.  This is because of the limited amount of space in the library, but also because of the importance of having an up-to-date inventory. The collection includes materials about Bavarian history and culture.

Christine at the Landtag libraryThe library subscribes to 370 journals and newspapers from all parts of Bavarian.  Nadler said that the parliamentarians want to have the news from their respective homes.  The library also routes a list of the new books to the parliamentarians and their staff, who are the primary patrons of the library.  Outside users must apply for special permission to gain access.

There are five professional librarians on staff.  Nadler noted that some of the librarians can switch between tasks in the library, the archive and the documentation center.

In addition to housing the parliament and the Foundation, the Maximilianeum features a collection of paintings representing Bavarian history.  The building was an art gallery from its inception.  Seventeen paintings were destroyed during World War II.

References

Bayerischer Landtag. (2004). The Bavarian Landtag – State Parliament – and the Maximilianeum. Munich, Germany: The Landtag.  Accessed 11 January 2008.

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Bavarian State Library January 9, 2008

I’ve been sick the past couple of days, so I haven’t had the energy to do much other than correct previous posts about the DPMA and the Max Planck Society.  Today, I’m going to flood you with posts, though, starting with this recap of our visit to the Bavarian State Library.

Klaus Ceynowa and Stephen SchwarzOur tour was led by Dr. Klaus Ceynowa, the deputy director general of the library.  He began with a brief presentation, then we took a tour around the building.

The Bavarian State Library (BSB) was founded in 1558 and is the central state and archival library in Bavaria.  While it is not a university library per se, it does provide services to the academic institutions in Munich.   There are 680 employees at the library serving the public, including students and researchers from the city, the state and all over the world.

Their annual budget is €43 million, with 47.3 percent allotted to staff, 30.7 percent to media costs, eight percent to information technology, and 14 percent to operational costs.  The library has 9.25 million volumes, 91,000 manuscripts, 20,000 incunabula (pre-1501 printed documents), and 136,000 16th century imprints.  Ceynowa said that the incunabula collection is the best in the world, while the imprints collection is the best in Germany.

It has also the second largest periodicals collection in the world (after the British Library) with 50,000 print and electronic volumes.  The library processes 500,000 document deliveries a year.  Ceynowa said that ILL and document delivery requests have increased 143 percent in the past four years, partly because of budget cuts at university libraries.

In addition to its comprehensive humanities, social science and life sciences titles, the BSB has a number of special collections.  These include special subject collections funded by the German Research Association, a maps collection, and an East Asian materials collection.  Ceynowa said that the library has been the legal depositor of Bavaria since 1668.

Annually, there are one million visitors to the BSB, with 49,000 active users.  Ceynowa noted there has been a 114 percent increase in visits during the past four years.  In that time, loans increased 37 percent to 1.61 million.  The public is not allowed in the stacks, but instead request materials from the staff.  Books not kept in the seven floors of stacks are stored in one of two off-site satellites.  A patron can wait from three to four hours up to one to two days to receive titles to be delivered by the book truck that travels between the main building and the satellites.

Corner of griefDuring allied bombing in World War Two, 450,000 volumes and 85 percent of the library building was destroyed.  There was some recovery of materials lost, but the library maintains in the stacks a “corner of grief” featuring books that were damaged during the bombing campaign.

One of the BSB’s main foci is the digital preservation of materials.  The library is one of the partners in the Google digital scanning project, but this participation represents only a portion of its efforts.  The library established the Munich Digitization Center (MDZ) in 1997, one of two national digitization centers in Germany.  It is funded by the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft, the state of Bavaria, and the European Union.  The MDZ works closely with the other national center, the Göttinger Digitalisierungszentrum (GDZ) and the Leibniz-Rechenzentrum, and it consults with smaller libraries about digitization projects.

While the library has focused on specific digitization projects in the past, Ceynowa said that it is moving into more general scanning. The Google project involves one million copyright-free titles. Reps from the company originally requested access to all of the BSB’s books, which the library administration would not grant. After the publishers’ lawsuit against Google over the project, they agreed to only scan in the copyright-free materials.

Google digitizes the books in Munich, and it pays for almost all the costs to move and scan the books. The scans are integrated into Google Book Search, and the BSB gets copies of the electronic data for its own digital collection. The books Google are allowed access to range from the 17th to the 19th centuries. Titles after 1900 are generally copyrighted, although Ceynowa noted that the metadata from these books have been added to WorldCat.

The scanning of the 70,000 items of 16th century materials is now being done with scanner robot. At the time of our visit, the robot had only been at the MDZ for about 8-10 weeks. The BSB is the first library in Europe using this prototype, which was bought from a start-up company in Austria called Treventus Mechatronics. The advantage of the robot is that it scans two pages at once without fully opening up the book, which prevents cracking open old spines. The initial scan is in TIFF format, then the scan is converted to JPG for use on the server. Here is a brief video of the robot in action:

In addition to touring the digitization center, we visited the preservation department. There are 14 conservators in house, and each year, they and freelance conservators preserve 300 books. It takes three-four weeks to complete a book.

The department performs applied research into preservation techniques before integrating them into its regular processes. It’s sort of like Willy Wonka’s invention room with books instead of candy (and no butterscotch or buttergin running on the side there).

Among the materials being worked on while we visited were letters between Ludwig I of Bavaria and his mistress Lola Montez, as well as Greek book from the 15th century being restored for an upcoming exhibition.

References:

Incunabulum.” (2008). Wikipedia. Accessed 9 January 2008.

 

DPMA January 3, 2008

On our first full day in Munich, we visited both the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt, or DPMA) and the Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property, Competition and Tax Law (which I recapped in an earlier post). Munich is Germany’s capital of Intellectual Property, so it made sense to have an IP theme for the day.

At the DPMA, we met with Hubert Rothe, the head of the Information Services for the Public division. He provided us with an overview of Germany’s IP law and the function of the DPMA.

Before we get into the details of our visit, I am submitting this post to Rothe to review in order to confirm that what I’ve written is, you know, accurate. So expect it to be updated shortly.

Hubert RotheI’ve received Rothe’s update and have made the changes below.  They are underlined for dramatic effect.

The DPMA originally opened in Berlin in 1877. The old office in the Kreuzberg neighborhood now houses the Jewish Museum. In 1949, it was reopened in Munich. There are presently three DPMA offices. The Munich location has 2,259 staffers. The office in Berlin, which focuses on education resources for the public, has 105 employees, while the office in Jena has 235 staffers. The DPMA employs 700 patent examiners and 150 trademark examiners.

Rothe said that the mission of IP protection is the “promotion of economic development.” He explained that IP is divided into two broad categories, industrial property and copyright. We didn’t discuss copyright in any great deal, but Rothe did say that Germany does not have a copyright office “since the legislation in Germany and other European countries does not provide for a copyright registration. The creator owns the copyright without any formal steps.”

Industrial property is divided into four categories:

  • Technical intellectual property rights (divided into patents and utility models);
  • Marks (trade marks and service marks);
  • Designs;
  • Protection of plant varieties.

Patent law operates under a contract theory: an accepted application is a contract between the holder and the state that gives the former exclusive right of use for a maximum of twenty years. Unlike in the U.S., where the inventor holds a patent, European patents are mostly held by the company employing the inventor. Rothe wrote, “According to German law the inventor has to give notice to the employer about all inventions related to the job. The employer has to decide whether he will file a patent application or allow the employee to personally file the application. If the employer files the application the employee is entitled to an appropriate remuneration.”

The applicant must agree that the government can publish the specs of the invention to make them available to competitors and the general public. This information can be found in such publications as the patent documents (e.g. “patent specification” and the patent gazette, both published on the internet. This is in part how the law encourages invention in Germany. Only military-related trade secrets are not published, and even then, patent examiners decide in co-ordination with the Federal Ministry of Defense whether this exemption is granted. Rothe said the number of patents that aren’t published is relatively small.

The preconditions for IP protection are worldwide novelty, inventive activity (does the invention add something valuable to the state of the art), and commercial applicability. Discoveries, scientific theories, mathematical methods, plans, rules, and processes for theoretical activities are all not eligible for IP protection. Neither is software, per se. Rothe wrote, “The main claim of the patent application must include ‘technical means’ for solving the given problem in addition to the software.”

Applicants can choose to apply for protection in either Germany at the DPMA or at the European Patent Office, which opened in 1977 and also happens to be where we had lunch after our meeting. Rothe said that the advantage to applying for protection at the European office is that you only need to file once in English, German or French, then designate which states the patent applies to. Rothe wrote, “The procedural fees to be paid to the EPO are much higher than the fees of a single national patent office.”

Rothe added that the application practice of applicants, e. g. of those of the automotive sector, show that in many cases filing in one of the bigger European countries is as good as having a European-wide patent anyway. After all, if you have a product that can’t be used in Germany or the United Kingdom, then what good is it? In addition, at the German office, the application process can be completed faster. European IP and copyright laws are harmonized with each other to a large extent, but not with U.S. law.

German Patent Office buildingThe DPMA utilizes the “International Patent Classification” consisting of about 70,000 different classification units, and these units determine the type of examiner handles each application. The patent examiners each specialize in around 100 units. Germany requires examiners have five years of practical work in industry before they qualify for the two-year examiner training program. The European office, incidentally, does not require the same length of experience. This classification system is pan-European and is also used in Asia. Again, the U.S. has a different system.

Rothe said that about 50 percent of applications are granted, but the scope of the patent can be reduced by the examiners. After a patent is granted, opposition, appeal, and nullity procedures can follow.

Patents can be renewed annually, for a fee, up to the 20th year after filing. There are generally no options of renewing past the 20 years, although there are exceptions: for example, pharmaceutical inventions can get, after completion of the patent life of 20 years, a subsequent protection of maximally additional five years.

A key part of both applying for and examining patents is the use and creation of literature. Applicants need to cite what is presently the state of the art in their respective industries. The examiners perform a novelty search using all relevant literature. The examiners also cite all documents relevant for delimiting the claims in the application. In addition, Patent applications are published 18 months after they are filed. Non-patent literature, such as journals, play a big role in the chemical, pharmaceutical and biotech patent applications, but a smaller role in other industries like engineering.

Because of the importance of literature searching, it is no surprise that the library at the DPMA is extremely important. It has 40 staff members, 960,000 volumes, and 1,500 journals, and its two target users are the examiners and the general public. Because 80 percent of technical knowledge is only disclosed in patent documents, it is essential that the office disseminates IP information. Much of the office’s budget is spent on making office decisions, applications and so forth publicly available.

Because of its mission, the DPMA created DEPATISnet, the German patent database. (A pan-European database called esp@cenet is available from the European Patent Office.) Rothe said that the librarians thought of the functionality that was necessary for use by the public. After an RFP was distributed Europe-wide, a Berlin company won the contract to design and support the system. The DPMA’s 45 million patent archive was scanned and put into a document management system that formed the basis for the database.  In the meantime the computer center of DPMA in Munich operates DEPATISnet.

The types of searches performed in DEPATISnet range from novelty searches to monitoring, to observe what competitors are doing, and competitive analysis, to determine how your company is doing. Searching is also important when preparing for infringement lawsuits.

DEPATISnet allows for basic and advanced (Boolean) searching. Patent examiners get more sophisticated research capabilities. Although the patent information is freely available on the internet, companies can make a lot of money either offering professional search services or designing publicly available advanced databases. The information services to the public division of DPMA studies the commercial products to determine the types of advanced features should be added to DEPATISnet. While it is the policy of the government to not interfere with the commercial business, Rothe said improving DEPATISnet smoothly from year to year helps pressure the companies to improve their own products.

Munich is not just Germany’s IP capital, of course. It is also Germany’s beer capital, so it made sense to drink at the Hofbräuhaus as well. I won’t recap that, other than to say that I held my own.

 

Max Planck Society December 20, 2007

Up until now, I have been posting my recaps of the Germany Parliamentary Library Study Tour in chronological order.  In this post, I am going to jump around a little bit.  The group visited two locations of the Max Planck Society (MPG – the “G” stands for “Gesellschaft”) during our trip, so I am going to combine both visits into one post.

Now, if the name of the Max Planck Society sounds familiar, you might have read a recent report about how it recently ended its contract with Springer for the publisher’s electronic journal service because it felt it was being overcharged for access.  MPG Vice President Kurt Mehlhorn said:

“Even at the very last minute the Springer publishing house had not been prepared to lower its inflated prices. The MPG therefore had had no other option but to terminate the contract.”

I wonder what Elsevier thinks about this.

Anyway, while in Hamburg, we met with Dr. Holger Knudsen, the library director at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law.  Later, in Munich, we met with Dr. Peter Weber and Ines Saler of the library at the Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property, Competition and Tax Law.

Dr. WeberWeber, the head of the library, began our meeting in Munich with an overview of the MPG and its place in what he referred to as the German research landscape.  The Society is comprised of 80 institutes spread out over Germany (with one Dutch and two Italian locations).  It primarily focuses on science and technology research, but it also has institutes focusing on law and other humanities-related projects.  Each institute is run independently and determines its own research topics and research projects.

Weber said that the institutes are built around the topics its researchers set rather than having a set topic and adding researchers interested in that topic.  This means that the focus of an institute can change as new members are added.  He gave as an example the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, which was originally the Institute for History until March of 2007.

For more about the Society and its history, check out the MPG Wikipedia entry, which I can confirm with my own notes is accurate.

(more…)

 

Book scanning robot October 16, 2007

Filed under: Munich — Chris @ 1:20 pm
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The Bavarian State Library is using a robot made by an Austrian company to digitize the old books in its collection.  I took a brief video of the robot in action, which you can see by visiting the “Library scanner robot” page on YouTube.

 

Oktoberfest! September 27, 2007

Filed under: Munich,Things to Do — crr29061 @ 12:09 pm
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Oktoberfest in Munich

When you hear the word “Oktoberfest”, it’s almost certain that one
thing comes to mind… Bavarian Beer! The truth is, there is much more
behind-the-scenes information that lurks beneath the countless years of
this world-renowned Bavarian tradition. The next Oktoberfest takes place from September 22nd until October 7th 2007 – Don’t miss it!

muenchen.de – Oktoberfest

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