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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 Director Pleads With Countries To Advance Treaty For Visually Impaired

    Published on 19 November 2012 @ 4:29 pm

    By , Intellectual Property Watch

    Visually impaired and print-disabled persons have high expectations for the results of this week’s negotiations on copyright exceptions and limitations at the World Intellectual Property Organization, WIPO Director General Francis Gurry told the opening of a committee meeting today.

    The 25th session of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights is taking place from 19-23 November. The high profile subject of this week’s meeting is a draft text of an instrument providing limitations and exceptions to copyright for blind/visually impaired persons and persons with print disabilities.

    Gurry said meeting the expectations of the visually impaired community and the print disabled depends on delegates. He said he made a plea to delegates “to rise sufficiently above your national positions to see the common good that can be achieved for the international community through the conclusion of a new treaty in this area and to see the improvement that you are able to actually deliver for the visually impaired and the print disabled.”

    “I cannot overemphasise the importance of the task that you have before you this week to be able to demonstrate sufficient flexibility,” he said, adding that the treaty would “be applauded and greeted with a great deal of enthusiasm all around the world.”

    Also on this week’s agenda are three other working documents delegates are mandated to advance: a draft treaty text on the protection of broadcasting organisations [pdf], a working document on exceptions and limitations for libraries and archives [pdf], and a working document on limitations and exceptions for educational, teaching and research institutions and persons with other disabilities [pdf].

    The schedule for the week [pdf], was presented today in plenary session and will be as follows: three days of the meeting will be devoted to the work on the visually impaired persons draft treaty text. On Thursday morning, discussions will focus on a proposed treaty for the protection of broadcasting organisations, the afternoon will be devoted to limitations and exceptions for educational and research institutions, as well as persons with other disabilities. On Friday morning, delegates will address any further work on any topic discussed during the week, and the afternoon will be dedicated to the conclusion of the meeting.

    Chair Darlington Mwape of Zambia said the committee will work in a smaller configuration (regional coordinators plus five) than the plenary to advance the draft visually impaired persons treaty text in order to ensure transparency. The plenary will reconvene each morning to present the work coming from the small group discussions.

    The African Group, in its opening statement, said the group “attaches great importance to the VIP negotiations.” Over 27 million people suffer from visual impairment in Africa and about 17 million in the Middle East, the Egyptian delegate said on behalf of the group. Additional progress is needed to achieve convergence, he said, and to “overcome outstanding significant issues to reach an outcome.”

    Several policy questions need resolving, he said, in particular, defining the nature of the “authorised entities” and taking into account the limited resources of developing countries’ authorised entities to implement strict administrative rules and procedures or to “act as enforcement agencies.”

    Authorised entities are described in the draft text [pdf] as: “Authorized entity means an entity that is authorized or recognized by the government to provide education, instructional training, adaptive reading or information access to beneficiary persons on a non-profit basis. It also includes a government institution or non-profit organization that provides the same services to beneficiary persons as one of its primary activities or institutional obligations” but the text is entirely bracketed, reflecting the absence of consensus on this definition.

    Another concern of the African Group is the necessity to ensure “that the exercise of the exceptions and limitations permitted under the treaty would not be impeded or negated by other disciplines such as technological protection measures, contract law, or create [sic] new obligations regarding sovereign discretion by WIPO member states regarding how governments create other exceptions and limitations to address public interest needs nationally.”

    A particular concern has been voiced in previous sessions about the interpretation in the treaty of the so-called three step test. The test stems from Article 9(2) of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works on possible exceptions to the right of reproduction. This language has inspired Article 13 of the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) [pdf].

    The Berne Convention states that exceptions and limitations should be limited to certain special cases, “provided that such reproduction does not conflict with a normal exploitation of the work and does not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the author.”

    In the draft visually impaired persons treaty text, Article I says the tree-step test “should be interpreted in a manner that respects the legitimate interests of third parties,” including “[a] interest deriving from human rights and fundamental freedom, [b] interest in competition, notably on secondary markets, [c] other public interests, notably in scientific progress and cultural, educational, social or economic development.”

    Concerns on the Week’s Schedule

    South Africa expressed concerns on the week’s schedule and said spending three days on the visually impaired persons treaty and only half a day on the protection of broadcasting organisations for which a diplomatic conference was expected to be convened in 2014, and another half day on the limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives, educational and research institutions and for people with other disabilities, was not in conformity with the WIPO General Assembly mandate which required that all issues be treated equally.

    A parallel request was voiced by the African Group, which asked that the session advance work on the other agenda items, echoed by Peru on behalf of the Group of Latin America and Caribbean Countries (GRULAC), and the Asian Group.

    Group B: Respect Creators’ Rights; EU has a Go for a Treaty

    Belgium, on behalf of Group B, said specific issues experienced by visually impaired persons require specific solutions but those solutions should effectively protect the rights of creators. Group B, the Belgium delegate said, is hoping for substantial progress on the protection of broadcasting organisations so that the 2013 WIPO General Assembly could envisage the possible scheduling of a diplomatic conference in 2014.

    The European Union said the SCCR has a specific objective to remove barriers which prevent access for the visually impaired to books in accessible formats, including the cross-border distribution of such accessible formats. The objective for the 25th session of the SCCR, the delegate said, is to concentrate on the negotiation on the specific needs of visually impaired persons and achieve a strong convergence that will allow the advancement of the draft treaty text.

    “Our goal is clear,” said the EU delegate, “we want to ensure that visually impaired people anywhere in the world have the same access to books as any other persons.” But this has to be in accordance with an effective protection of the rights of creators, he said, adding that the EU and its member states now are “in a position to negotiate the conclusion of an instrument, including a binding treaty.” There is a political commitment, he added, to find an effective and balanced solution “that does not affect the principles of the international copyright framework.”

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

     

    Comments

    1. Treaty For Visually Impaired Advancing At WIPO; Countries Ask For More Transparency | Intellectual Property Watch says:

      [...] Chair Darlington Mwape of Zambia announced yesterday (IPW, WIPO, 19 November 2012) that three days of the 25th session of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights [...]

    2. In Final Stretch Of Drafting Of WIPO Treaty For The Blind, Tensions High | Intellectual Property Watch says:

      [...] with an appeal to delegates to “rise sufficiently above your national positions” (IPW, WIPO, 19 November 2012) and insisted that the hopes are high in the visually impaired community that a treaty be [...]

    3. WIPO Committee Finishes A Step Closer To Treaty For Visually Impaired | Intellectual Property Watch says:

      [...] Another major issue is the interpretation of the three-step test, which has been forcefully maintained in the text by the European Union, according to some sources, and fought by some countries, in particular by the African Group. The test mainly provides conditions for the exceptions to copyright to be exercised in an effort to protect the interests of the rights holders (IPW, WIPO, 19 November 2012). [...]

    4. Great Expectations For WIPO Extraordinary General Assembly On Treaty For Blind | Intellectual Property Watch says:

      [...] At the last meeting of the SCCR in November, the European Union said it was now in favour of a treaty. “Our goal is clear,” said the EU delegate, “we want to ensure that visually impaired people anywhere in the world have the same access to books as any other persons.” But this has to be in accordance with an effective protection of the rights of creators, he said, adding that the EU and its member states now are “in a position to negotiate the conclusion of an instrument, including a binding treaty.” (IPW, WIPO, 19 November 2012). [...]


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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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