G8: Amid Talks Of Climate, Economy, Food And Health Lies IP & Innovation 09/07/2009 by Monika Ermert for Intellectual Property Watch 2 Comments IP-Watch is a non-profit independent news service, and subscribing to our service helps support our goals of bringing more transparency to global IP and innovation policies. To access all of our content, please subscribe now. You also have the opportunity to offer additional support to your subscription, or to donate. Leaders of the seven biggest economies and Russia (G8) at their annual summit this week in L’Aquila, Italy have made very cautious commitments with regard to the top issue, climate change, but views on intellectual property rights enforcement began to become clear on the second day. The summit so far has addressed issues related to trade, development, terrorism, and also innovation and IP. Statements in the leaders’ Wednesday declaration with regard to intellectual property called for a firm push for the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which is unchanged from the past. But the G8 IP Expert Group (IPEG) on Thursday published the results of its discussion in which they went into more detail. The IPEG reaffirmed the year 2000 Okinawa Charter commitment on Use of Software in full compliance with intellectual property rights that addresses public authorities. The IPEG also called on all states to step up consideration about how to combat digital piracy on the internet that the IPEG sees as growing problem. And the IPEG presented the “G8 Model Arrangement on Bilateral Information Sharing for Fighting Counterfeiting and Piracy” to allow the exchange of information between national authorities. Leaders also urged completion of the round of negotiations at the World Trade Organization. First day G8 leaders’ declaration here [pdf]. Report of the G8 Intellectual Property Experts Group discussions here [pdf]. [Note: Click here for the G8 public health and accountability reports, released on 10 July.] Separately, the TransAtlantic Business Dialogue (US and European private sector) issued a statement urging consideration of the importance of IP rights to innovation at the upcoming summit on energy technology IP rights and environmental tariffs. “There are win-win models for diffusion of technology, but free IP is not one of them,” said the 8 July letter sent by TABD Co-chair Jürgen Thumann to European Commission President Manuel Barroso, available here [pdf]. The business group also urged the EU to push for the elimination of tariffs on environmental goods and services, and to oppose efforts in the UN climate change negotiations to “undermine” intellectual property protection. Meanwhile, nobody at the 8-10 July Group of 8 meeting seems to be fully happy with the G8 format any longer. German Chancellor Angela Merkel in her government declaration a week ago expressed her wish to have the G20 as the roof for the negotiating processes. Many non-governmental organisations (NGOs) decided against participation, some because of lack of access to politicians and debates, some just deciding that “it’s not important enough.” It was Pope Benedict that some NGOs focusing on intellectual property and health issues pointed to vigorously when asked for a comment. Benedict XVI in his “encyclical” letter “caritas in veritate,” available here, requested a much more people- rather than profit-centred economy and warned against overzealous IP protection. “In the context of immaterial or cultural causes of development and underdevelopment, we find these same patterns of responsibility reproduced. On the part of rich countries there is excessive zeal for protecting knowledge through an unduly rigid assertion of the right to intellectual property, especially in the field of health care. At the same time, in some poor countries, cultural models and social norms of behaviour persist which hinder the process of development,” the Pope wrote immediately before the G8 meeting to the world leaders. Push for ACTA At its annual summit, the G8 passes a series of declarations over the three days that have been prepared by a variety of working groups before the summit. In addition to the G8-only declarations there are also joint declarations with other countries such as the G5 (China, India, Brazil, South Africa and Mexico) and other invited countries including several African countries and major economies including Australia, South Korea, Indonesia and others. Yet G8 leaders did not change considerably from their past IP path. While committing to innovation policies not the least through the economic stimulus bills and admitting that “more effective mechanisms for diffusion of innovation in all its forms are needed” the G8 underlined the link between innovation and the IP system. “Innovation can be promoted via an effective intellectual property rights system,” they wrote in the declaration. There was acknowledgement of the importance of the international discussion of the issues at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), where the G8 expect to work on the much-debated Substantive Patent Law Treaty (SPLT) and the “Patent Prosecution Highway.” But G8 leaders want quick finalisation of the plurilateral and closed-door negotiation on the ACTA. They wrote in their declaration: “The negotiations for the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which the participants should seek to agree as soon as possible, represent an important opportunity to strengthen standards for enforcement of IPR.” ACTA has been criticised heavily by many who see it as an attempt to route around responsible international fora like WIPO and the World Trade Organization (WTO) to get so called “TRIPS-plus” protection standards. Yet the G8 also does promote more bilateral and multilateral cooperation among customs authorities through INFO IPR, a pilot project at the WCO, and information exchange “considering the model arrangement and capacity building at the World Customs Organisation (WCO).” The parallel acknowledgement of WIPO on the one hand and bilateral and plurilateral activities on the other might result from the fact that there have been two processes working on the IP issues between the G8 summits. There was a “G8 Intellectual Property Expert Group Report” and a working group on “Promoting Research and Innovation including IPR” in the so-called “Heiligendamm Dialogue” process that brought the G5, China, India, Brazil, South Africa and Mexico to the table. The innovation and IPR working group, one of four Heiligendamm working groups moderated by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and co-chaired by British Intellectual Property Office head Ian Fletcher and Indian Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion Official Ajay Shankar, met five times over 2008-2009. According to a short resume from the OECD, the group focused on the “benefits of promoting and protecting innovation, knowledge entrepreneurship, and creativity and associated intellectual property rights,” an enabling policy and business environment where IPR was respected, the costs of counterfeiting and piracy, the contribution of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge to innovation and the important role of WIPO. ACTA and the WIPO Development Agenda interestingly were both declared important in that document. With regard to piracy and the internet the G8 leaders acknowledged that they must deepen their “understanding of the impact of the internet and the new technologies on the worldwide diffusion of digital piracy and counterfeit goods.” Internet and new technologies, they wrote, “have created new opportunities and business models for the creation and widespread distribution of digital content that fosters increased knowledge, science, education and free speech.” The links between IPR and the climate crisis and the need for the development and diffusion of new technology is also referred to in the climate section of the declaration. The leaders promised they will “encourage and facilitate the development, deployment and diffusion, particularly through the engagement and leveraging of critical private sector investment, of advanced appropriate technologies in emerging and developing economies, which permit a technological leap and avoid lock-in“. Climate – Overarching Topic At the G8 meeting in L’Aquila, the earthquake-stricken town in the Italian Abruzzo mountains, leaders on Wednesday announced their intention amidst the economic crisis to “set growth on a more robust, green, inclusive and sustainable path” and to “mitigate the impact of the crisis on developing countries, and to continue to support their efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.” Global warming and the fight against it is perhaps the most important topic addressed at the L’Aquila Summit. With the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen only months away and the US back at the negotiating table, the climate campaigners hoped for some progress emanating from L’Aquila. The G8 agreement that global temperature should not rise more than 2 degrees might be welcomed Janet Redman, co-director Sustainable Energy and Economy Network at the Washington-based Institute of Policy Studies. “This only means acceptance of basic science,” Redman told Intellectual Property Watch. “It means governments are now catching up with what the the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC has been saying for some time.” But, “you don’t get a gold star just for coming to the negotiating table,” she said with regard to US activities. What would be a good outcome from the closed-shop G8 meeting would be a show of leadership, a commitment to much deeper cuts in the emissions of the rich countries, and the announcement of a real support package for the poor countries to move to low-emission energy, she said. Redman criticised the fact that not enough weight is given to the notion of “climate justice.” “This does not mean that a country like China should get a free pass,” she said. All countries needed to have a safe climate regime, she said, but there should be an acknowledgement especially in the rich G8 countries that “some groups have consumed historically more than their fair share.” From this arises a special responsibility and a need for differentiated obligations with regard to the measures taken. Developing countries and least developed countries should not be deprived of their right to development. Cuts in emissions from the G8 therefore should go over what had been put on the table in L’Aquila. Future of G8 What Redman, Victor Menotti, executive director of the International Forum on Globalization, and other NGO representatives criticised was the format of the G8 summit. Access and possibilities to influence the debates are practically non-existent. What is more, questions are raised over the approach in which an “elite-club” of countries tries to make decisions affecting the developing world with them not at the negotiating table. The G8 would be a good opportunity to show leadership, said Redman, the G20 already might be a step forward with regard to a broader consultation. But in the end, the place for negotiations is the UN conference in Copenhagen. If developed countries declare the UN forum to be too big to reach consensus, one must consider what positions they want to get approved. G8 attempts to route around a global process might be more difficult in the end than with ACTA. William New contributed to this report. Monika Ermert may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org."G8: Amid Talks Of Climate, Economy, Food And Health Lies IP & Innovation" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.