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IP-Watch Summer Interns

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

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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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    WIPO Patent Committee Agrees To Continue Discussions On All Issues

    Published on 10 December 2011 @ 12:38 am

    By , Intellectual Property Watch

    The World Intellectual Property Organization patent law committee ended its meeting this week with status quo on all issues, after lively deliberations and new proposals but with all discussions left for further debate in 2012.

    The 17th session of the WIPO Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP) met from 5-9 December. It was characterised as a satisfying meeting by committee Chair Albert Tramposch of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, who told Intellectual Property Watch, “I am happy to be moving forward with a balanced agenda,” but appeared disappointing to some. Consensus eluded delegates on all issues, which were pushed to the next meeting for further discussions.

    “No substantive headway was made at this session” said a developing country delegate while a Group B country (developed countries) delegate summarised the session with a good-humoured “we agree not to agree”.

    A swift conclusion escaped the SCP as delegates struggled to agree on the informal suggestions by the chair on future work on Friday and they had to retreat to small groups to find agreeable language. A first version [pdf] of the informal suggestions was distributed on 8 December, discussed in plenary on that day and again in the morning of 9 December, according to a source. An edited version was issued in the early afternoon of 9 December.

    A summary by the chair [pdf] was released at the end of the afternoon and delegates, after several informal meetings with coordinators of the regional groups finally approved it in plenary after minor changes were proposed by delegates. For example, the meeting approved the suggestion of the United States to add a sentence to ask in the context of patent and health, that in the event the secretariat decides to invite the World Trade Organization and the World Health Organization, the member states will be informed well in advance. A new item reflecting this sentence was added to paragraph 25(c) of the chair’s report, according to sources.

    Discussions this week covered the quality of patents, patents and health, exceptions and limitations to patent rights, client-attorney confidentiality, and technology transfer.

    Exceptions and Limitations, Patents and Health

    On a proposal for exceptions and limitations to patents, members had been asked before the meeting to complete a substantive questionnaire and the deadline for further submissions was pushed back to 9 March 2012. According to the chair’s summary, the WIPO secretariat will prepare a new document presenting the answers already received with the addition of those received by March.

    At the beginning of the week, one proposal on patents and health was on the table, submitted by the delegation of South Africa on behalf of the African Group and the Development Agenda Group (DAG). By the end of the week there were two proposals.

    The developing country proposal calls for a work programme to assist countries to adapt their patent regimes and make full use of the patent flexibilities. The work programme would include a study on challenges and constraints faced by developing countries and least developed countries to fully benefit from the public health patent flexibilities, information exchange, and technical assistance.

    According to a copy of the statement posted by Knowledge Ecology International, the United States speaking on behalf of Group B countries (including western European Union countries, Norway, the US, Switzerland, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Turkey, Israel and the Holy See) said that Group B countries took note of the proposal put forward by the African Group and the Development Agenda Group, but did not support it. Reasons for this were that incentives provided by patents are would be hampered by a weaker patent system, and that the SCP should focus on its core mandate and avoid duplication of work carried out in other committees.

    On 7 December, the United States put forward a new proposal on patents and health [pdf]. In that proposal, the US said that the issue of availability of medicines to treat diseases affecting developing and least developed countries could not be solved by IP rights flexibilities alone and “in particular cannot be solved by the wholesale use of compulsory licensing.” To the contrary, the lack of effective patent protection, it said, prevents medicines from reaching patients.

    Only four percent of the medicines on the WHO’s list of essential medicines are currently protected by patents, but their availability is limited by other factors than patent protection, the proposal said. The proposal suggested alternative approaches, such as voluntary licensing and funding schemes, such as the Medicines Patent Pool, global funding, and advanced market commitments (in which medical products producers are guaranteed a market).

    According to a source, the proposal was made in part “to put the compulsory licence in context.” A compulsory licence is not enough to guarantee access to medicines, the source said, and some external factors hindering that access could be, for example, difficulties linked to the approval of the medicines by national regulatory authorities.

    A DAG country source said they “were a bit surprised to see some resistance to the issue on public health” this week.

    The issue, as well as the discussion on limitations and exceptions, will remain on the agenda for the 18th session of the SCP. Since no consensus was reached on the South African proposal, it should be further discussed at the next session. The proposal submitted by the US will be discussed at the next session too, the chair’s report said. Member states are invited to submit written comments on the two proposals for the next session.

    Patent Quality: Now Three Proposals on the Table

    At the beginning of the week, two proposals were on the table on the quality of patents. They were a joint proposal from the United Kingdom and Canada [pdf], and a new proposal from Denmark on using foreign search and examination. Yet another proposal was put forward by the US, [pdf] in which the US proposes to conduct a survey of the offices of member states “inviting them to reflect upon and to share the high-level goals that they consider crucial to a patenting system that produces high quality patents.” They also suggested that a questionnaire be filled by the national offices “in which they would describe the specific metrics they use in evaluating granted patents and the work of the examiners, measured against the office-specific targets described above, and describe the quality assurance mechanisms they employ.”

    Several developing country sources told Intellectual Property Watch that they found those steps premature and would like the proposal to be discussed at length first. In question also is the lack of definition of the quality of patents, a Group B source said. Some countries cannot really have a definition because such a definition depends on national laws, the source said. A DAG country source said there was no agreement on the definition of the quality of patents and this issue needed to be discussed in the committee before any further steps are taken.

    According to a developing country source, the DAG countries would like to establish a work programme on patent and health, and, as indicated in the proposal, invite the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, Anand Grover, to a next session of the SCP to present his report to the Human Rights Council on intellectual property rights and access to medicines.

    On the patent attorney privilege, no consensus was reached. One of the reasons is that this privilege is a national matter and touches upon national laws, a developing country source told Intellectual Property Watch.

    Both the health and privilege issues will remain on the agenda of the next meeting, which should take place in Geneva in May or June 2012.

    Technology Transfer

    Transfer of technology will also return to the agenda in the 18th session. The secretariat is to prepare a document listing the various activities of WIPO in the area of technology transfer and expand its study on incentives and impediments to the transfer of technology through practical examples and experiences, according to the chair’s summary.

    According to sources, the Egyptian delegation asked that the word “incentives” be preceded by the words “patent related” in the chair’s report.

    The secretariat is also expected to “assist Member States in facilitating the complementary and non-duplicative nature of the work undertaken by the SCP and the CDIP [Committee on Development and Intellectual Property] on the issue of transfer of technology.”

    According to sources, South Africa on behalf of the African Group asked that a sentence be added to paragraph 25(e) of the chair’s summary that would read “the SCP may consider the possibility to organise a seminar to complement the study in the near future”. The delegate of the US, on behalf of Group B asked that any reference to the future be erased, which was accepted by South Africa, according to sources.

    Catherine Saez may be reached at info@ip-watch.ch.

     


    Leave a Reply

    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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