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IP-Watch interns talk about their Geneva experience in summer 2013. 2:42.

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2. You understand and agree that Intellectual Property Watch is not responsible for any content posted by you or third parties. You further understand that IP Watch does not monitor the content posted. Nevertheless, IP Watch may monitor the any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove, edit or otherwise alter content that it deems inappropriate for any reason whatever without consent nor notice. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on our site. IP Watch is not in any manner endorsing the content of the discussion forums and cannot and will not vouch for its reliability or otherwise accept liability for it.

3. By submitting any contribution to IP Watch, you warrant that your contribution is your own original work and that you have the right to make it available to IP Watch for all purposes and you agree to indemnify IP Watch, its directors, employees and agents against all damages, legal fees and others expenses that may be incurred by IP Watch as a result of your breach of warranty or of these terms.

4. You further agree not to publish any personal information about yourself or anyone else (for example telephone number or home address). If you add a comment to a blog, be aware that your email address will be apparent.

5. IP Watch will not be liable for any loss including but not limited to the following (whether such losses are foreseen, known or otherwise): loss of data, loss of revenue or anticipated profit, loss of business, loss of opportunity, loss of goodwill or injury to reputation, losses suffered by third parties, any indirect, consequential or exemplary damages.

6. You understand and agree that the discussion forums are to be used only for non-commercial purposes. You may not solicit funds, promote commercial entities or otherwise engage in commercial activity in our discussion forums.

7. You acknowledge and agree that you use and/or rely on any information obtained through the discussion forums at your own risk.

8. For any content that you post, you hereby grant to IP Watch the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, exclusive and fully sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part, world-wide and to incorporate it in other works, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

9. These terms and your posts and contributions shall be governed and interpreted in accordance with the laws of Switzerland (without giving effect to conflict of laws principles thereof) and any dispute exclusively settled by the Courts of the Canton of Geneva.

The Politicization Of The US Patent System

The Washington Post story, How patent reform’s fraught politics have left USPTO still without a boss (July 30), is a vivid account of how patent reform has divided the US economy, preempting a possible replacement for David Kappos who stepped down 18 months ago. The division is even bigger than portrayed. Universities have lined up en masse to oppose reform, while main street businesses that merely use technology argue for reform. Reminiscent of the partisan divide that has paralyzed US politics, this struggle crosses party lines and extends well beyond the usual inter-industry debates. Framed in terms of combating patent trolls through technical legal fixes, there lurks a broader economic concern – to what extent ordinary retailers, bank, restaurants, local banks, motels, realtors, and travel agents should bear the burden of defending against patents as a cost of doing business.


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    Library Of Alexandria A Symbol Of Egypt’s Efforts To Lead On Knowledge Access

    Published on 16 November 2009 @ 2:07 pm

    By , Intellectual Property Watch

    ALEXANDRIA – Dining on fresh fish beneath a golden sunset overlooking the Mediterranean beneath which lie the remains of the ancient Library of Alexandria, the conversation turns to the invention of written language. A light-hearted debate breaks out between an Egyptian and a Syrian over the origins of the first alphabet several thousand years ago, but is left for the time being when the Syrian asserts, “We invented the alphabet, you invented writing.”

    Records show Egypt’s primary role in the development of written language as a way to disseminate ideas, and it is still advancing knowledge access, as evidenced by its world-class Library of Alexandria and several recent activities and publications. In some cases, library officials are out front on international policy issues related to access to knowledge.

    The Bibliotheca Alexandrina

    © Bibliotheca Alexandrina

    © Bibliotheca Alexandrina

    The new Library of Alexandria – that is, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina – is a showcase for activity on these topics, a grand series of supermodern edifices facing the sea and aiming to restore Egypt’s prowess in knowledge-related matters. The new library revitalises the ancient concept of being more than a 20th century-style book repository (“four walls and a bunch of books”), Chief Librarian Sohair Wastawy said in an interview with Intellectual Property Watch.

    The ancient library was a “temple for muses and an academy” where scientists, poets and others could live, left alone to produce their work (with their families given housing on the edge of town). Euclid, Herodotus and Archimedes made humanity-changing achievements there, she said, and perhaps the new library will give rise to the next great breakthroughs.

    The new library complex encompasses the world’s largest library reading room, space for 8 million books, and cutting-edge libraries for arts and multimedia, children, teenagers, and the visually impaired, plus rare books. The library buildings were designed by a Norwegian team with numerous architectural devices, including optical tricks and many references to ancient Egyptian style and symbolism. It also contains the Nobel section, a special reading room where scholars must sign in to keep the record of history.

    So far, there are about one million books in the library, which has an elaborate fire protection system, a nod to the historic destruction of what was the greatest knowledge centre in ancient history. It also has numerous slots in the upper walls to absorb sound, designed to resemble the thousands of storage spaces that held the ancient scrolls.

    © Bibliotheca Alexandrina

    © Bibliotheca Alexandrina

    But the library also is on the forefront of the 21st century move toward digitalisation of ideas and materials. Somewhat like a public library version of the Google Books Project, the library currently is scanning books on a three-shift, 24-hour a day non-stop basis, according to Wastawy, who was lured back to Egypt from her former post as dean of the Illinois Institute of Technology (US). The project already has scanned some 120,000 volumes, about 8 million pages, she said.

    Another library project is to house the second copy of the Internet Archive, an ambitious San Francisco-based digital library project continuously collecting the world’s internet-based information. The library, opened in 2002, gets about a half-million users and about one million visitors each year.

    The library is also helping to pioneer ways to address Egypt’s 40 percent illiteracy and high poverty rates, Wastawy said, by wide-ranging programmes for adults and children. One such project deployed around the city of Alexandria followed an idea from India to put computers on the street just for children (with smaller hands) on which they can read books. Kids take to the computers quickly, she said.

    The library’s aim includes giving access to those discriminated against for their poverty and disability, she said. For instance, it offers a bookmobile technology that allows children to download and make their own copy of a book, which they can keep forever. This is not circumventing the law by not paying a royalty to publishers, she said, rather it is in keeping with “our role in society to be distributing information.” No budget could be big enough to cover that role, she said, and “we can’t be a library for the elite.”

    In fact, the library “has become a platform for democracy,” Wastawy added, where “regular people” can voice their views and participate.

    She took particular pride in a demonstration of the latest computer-based voice-recognition technologies for blind readers, moving them beyond braille text. “I know publishers are scared about making these things free to people with disabilities,” she said. “But not only do we have an information-rich and information-poor society, we also have a society divided along disabilities.” Visually impaired readers can only access a fraction of the books sighted people can access. Libraries should comply with access rules, she said, and must work around copyright to do so.

    Other features of the library are a planetarium, art and antiquities museums, and 8 research centres, such as one promoting research in science and technology, and a variety of cultural events and courses. On a recent given day, events included: a concert by Omar Khairat, a hieroglyphic course for adults, a workshop of the Association of Agricultural Research Institutions in the Near East and North Africa, a movie screening, a book exchange fair, steering committee meetings of a local group, and a lecture on Mongolian culture and history, to be followed by “horizons of Sufism.”

    The library is insulated from the whims of politicians as it was set up by law to report directly to the president’s office where it is highly prized.

    The Library and Human Rights

    The library is – or at least individuals within are – capable of taking positions on political issues. For instance, library General Counsel Dr. M. El-Said El-Dakkak in an interview raised human rights concerns related to trade agreements,

    © Bibliotheca Alexandrina

    © Bibliotheca Alexandrina

    intellectual property rights and production of medicines for neglected diseases primarily affecting developing countries. “Diseases don’t recognise borders,” he said.

    El-Said said that several years ago at a conference in India he recognised that the imposition of patent protection on medicines was a new “kind of exploitation” of developing countries. He said the problem has not been studied deeply but rather has been limited to a “cry of protection.”

    He also called for improvements in access to technology. On climate issues, he said transfer of technology “should not be limited to those that produce the pollution.”

    El-Said proposed a conference between developed and developing countries to negotiate to modify rules in treaties that “were imposed by the stronger party” such as the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). “Otherwise,” he said, “at the end of the day, these treaties will collapse.”

    A2K Toolkit Publication

    Another recent development is the publication by the Library of Alexandria of an updated Access To Knowledge Toolkit, available here [pdf], covering a range of key topics.

    The toolkit is “intended to showcase the achievements of the A2K movement up till now; highlight the barriers hindering its progress; envisage its future; and suggest the steps that need to be taken,” according to editor Hala Essalmawi, IPR officer at the Library of Alexandria.

    Recent Events

    Egypt also is often a focal point for major meetings and regional developments. For instance, it was the location for US President Obama’s regional reconciliation speech earlier this year, in what the US called the “New Beginning” for the US and Muslim countries. On 3 November, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a speech on the initiative, including numerous references to issues such as science, technology, education, telecommunications, and innovation.

    Separately, Sharm El Sheikh, a Red Sea resort town, is hosting the United Nations-led Internet Governance Forum from 15-18 November. The event, part of a series of talk-shops that arose from the 2003-2005 World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), will broadly focus on managing critical internet resources; security, openness and privacy; access and diversity; internet governance and the WSIS principles; the way forward, including the continuation of the forum; emerging issues: and the impact of social networks. On the future of the forum, it seems likely that a recommendation to continue will be forthcoming, given that many of the participants have made a career out of participating in these events.

    In addition, the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the World Intellectual Property Organization co-organised a regional “African-Arab” seminar on “copyright limitations and exceptions: addressing the needs of affected constituencies” in Cairo on 2 November.

    The conference brought together some leading figures on the issues, such as officials from WIPO and the World Trade Organization, and key proponents and opponents of a proposed WIPO treaty for the visually impaired currently under debate. Discussions focussed on limitations and exceptions for libraries, archives, museums, dissemination and use of copyrighted works for education and research, and the IP-related rights of persons with disabilities. WIPO said the event also served as a “preparatory exercise” for the African and Arab regions for the 14-18 December Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) meeting at WIPO.

    Also, the library has moved into issues of access to microfinance, and participated last week in a conference on the topic.

    And the library held events on 27 September to 1 October entitled, “Copyright Protection in the Digital Age” and “Intellectual Property Rights and Development.”

    The events, attended by high-level judges, lawyers and others, addressed current topics such as IP and development, access to public health, licensing, open source issues, and free trade agreements in the region. The agenda included several regional speakers, such as Mohammed El Said, professor and author of “The Development of Intellectual Property Protection in the Arab World,” and outside speakers, including your correspondent, who spoke on the WIPO Development Agenda and on current developments in Geneva on public health policy. When he was not dining on fish.

    William New may be reached at wnew@ip-watch.ch.

     

    Comments

    1. Nuno Pires de Carvalho says:

      In an annex to the Library there was the Museum, where the first state-sponsored research institue of Human history operated for almost four centuries. Some of the greatest inventors of the Humankind lived and worked in the premises of the Museum, such as Ctesibius (3rd century b.C.) and Hero (1st century a.D.). It is not a coincidence that Aristotles mentioned that Hippodamus, the architect who designed and conceived the city of Alexandria, established a mechanism of rewards for those who contributed with something useful for the public good of the city — this applied, of course, to the inventors in the Museum, who made significant contributions to the operation of temples and theatres. Even though, unlike in Mesopotomia, in pre-classical Egypt technical research and improvements were almost exclusively sponsored by the Government, the History of Ancient Egypt is full of examples of wonderful technical achievements made as a response to encouragement and rewards. Perhaps the greatest inventor of all times, Imhotep, the inventor of the technique of building pyramids, was rewarded with his inclusion in the Pantheon (several centuries after his death he was still venerated as a god in the Greek pantheon). It was not intellectual property law as we know it today, but Egypt also develepod some mechanisms of private appropriation of inventions. The ostrakons of Deir-el-Medina gradually reveal that some artisans were able to capture revenue from their technical improvements.
      If we read the History carefully, we find expressions of intellectual property since the dawn of civilization. Actually, IP is an instrument of civilization – it was born in Mesopotamia (the Code of Hammurabi has a “law” on IP — which is repeated in footnote 10 of the TRIPS Agreement [and this is not a coincidence!]); from Mesopotamia IP spread to the Hindus Valley and Egypt. From Egypt it moved to Greece and Rome. And from Rome, it came to Medieval Europe. The geographical expansion of IP accompanies the extension of the arms of the crescent moon that involved the Mediterranean Sea. And this was not a coincidence: IP has been a tool of spontaneous generation in all societies in which private business initiative prevailed (and that is why in China we cannot find many eruptions of private appropriation of commercial differentiating intangible assets).

      Now some self-serving advertisement: For those who are interested in knowing more about how patents and trademarks were born in Antiquity and how they developed from there into the Space Age (including the TRIPS Agreement, the Development Agenda, ACTA, etc), a book published in 2009 (in Brazil) (The structure of the Patent and Trademark Systems – Past, Present and Future), tells it all in 750 pages and 88 illustrations.

    2. Patents Roundup: More Ridiculous Patents, Qualcomm Permitted to Abuse, Human Rights Step in as Overhaul Debated | Boycott Novell says:

      [...] Watch has this new article about a culture of sharing that once existed. Dining on fresh fish beneath a golden sunset [...]

    3. In Egypt, Director Of Famed Library Of Alexandria Under Fire | Intellectual Property Watch says:

      [...] The library was long said to have direct ties to the Mubarak leadership, as a favourite project of his wife. It has in recent years been hailed as a bright spot in the region and globally (IPW, Access to Knowledge, 16 November 2009). [...]


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    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website. By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website.

    By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    1. You agree that you are fully responsible for the content that you post. You will not knowingly post content that violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property right of any third party or which you know is under a confidentiality obligation preventing its publication and that you will request removal of the same should you discover that you have violated this provision. Likewise, you may not post content that is libelous, defamatory, obscene, abusive, that violates a third party's right to privacy, that otherwise violates any applicable local, state, national or international law, that amounts to spamming or that is otherwise inappropriate. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence are also prohibited. Furthermore, you may not impersonate others.

    2. You understand and agree that Intellectual Property Watch is not responsible for any content posted by you or third parties. You further understand that IP Watch does not monitor the content posted. Nevertheless, IP Watch may monitor the any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove, edit or otherwise alter content that it deems inappropriate for any reason whatever without consent nor notice. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on our site. IP Watch is not in any manner endorsing the content of the discussion forums and cannot and will not vouch for its reliability or otherwise accept liability for it.

    3. By submitting any contribution to IP Watch, you warrant that your contribution is your own original work and that you have the right to make it available to IP Watch for all purposes and you agree to indemnify IP Watch, its directors, employees and agents against all damages, legal fees and others expenses that may be incurred by IP Watch as a result of your breach of warranty or of these terms.

    4. You further agree not to publish any personal information about yourself or anyone else (for example telephone number or home address). If you add a comment to a blog, be aware that your email address will be apparent.

    5. IP Watch will not be liable for any loss including but not limited to the following (whether such losses are foreseen, known or otherwise): loss of data, loss of revenue or anticipated profit, loss of business, loss of opportunity, loss of goodwill or injury to reputation, losses suffered by third parties, any indirect, consequential or exemplary damages.

    6. You understand and agree that the discussion forums are to be used only for non-commercial purposes. You may not solicit funds, promote commercial entities or otherwise engage in commercial activity in our discussion forums.

    7. You acknowledge and agree that you use and/or rely on any information obtained through the discussion forums at your own risk.

    8. For any content that you post, you hereby grant to IP Watch the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, exclusive and fully sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part, world-wide and to incorporate it in other works, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

    9. These terms and your posts and contributions shall be governed and interpreted in accordance with the laws of Switzerland (without giving effect to conflict of laws principles thereof) and any dispute exclusively settled by the Courts of the Canton of Geneva.

     

     
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