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

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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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    WHO, WTO, WIPO Provide Policymakers Policy Options For Public Health

    Published on 6 February 2013 @ 12:38 am

    By , Intellectual Property Watch

    World Trade Organization (WTO), World Health Organization (WHO) and World Intellectual Property Office officials at the launch of the study on 8 February.The launch of a study co-edited by the World Trade Organization, World Health Organization, and World Intellectual Property Organization on the intersection between public health, intellectual property and trade drew a full attendance from a wide array of stakeholders on 5 February.

    The trilateral study, titled “Promoting Access to Medical Technologies and Innovation,” presents policy options involving health, trade and intellectual property, in a combination that some might have described as an oxymoron. Intellectual property and trade have, in certain circumstances, been presented as barriers to access to medicines, rather than enhancers.

    The 250-page book, the result of three years of collaboration, is aimed at policymakers, international organisations, academics, researchers and non-governmental organisations.

    World Trade Organization (WTO), World Health Organization (WHO) and World Intellectual Property Organization officials at the launch of the study on 8 February.

    World Trade Organization (WTO), World Health Organization (WHO) and World Intellectual Property Office officials at the launch of the study on 8 February.

    WTO director general Pascal Lamy said the “report emphasises that innovation and access must be seen holistically.”

    “Innovation without effective access offers scant public health benefit,” Lamy said, adding that development of new medicines and new medical technologies need to be encouraged.

    “The study points out the importance of the patent system for the pharmaceutical sector, while also identifying alternative incentive mechanisms that seek to enable much-needed new products in neglected diseases,” he said.

    In addition, it looks at “measures such as differential pricing as a practical way of reconciling innovation and access in medical technologies,” Lamy said, adding that the study was meant to enable “an overview of how diverse policy measures can fit together coherently.”

    WHO in Favour of Public Interest

    WHO Director General Margaret Chan called it “a big report with a noble ambition.” The ambition is to “help countries promote access to medical technologies and stimulate the development of new products, especially for diseases of the poor.” Every country in the world is worried about rising health care costs, she said.

    In the past, trade rules and IP regime have been viewed by many people as barriers to the pursuit of public health goals, she said. Certain practices can make prices artificially high and delay the market entry of more affordable generic products, she added.

    According to Chan, policy spheres in public health, intellectual property, and trade share much common ground and many social values, and all those policy spheres should operate in the public interest. International systems that govern IP rights and trade have health-specific provisions, she said, including numerous checks, balances, exemptions, exceptions and flexibilities.

    From left to right: WTO Director General Pascal Lamy, former president of the Swiss Confederation Ruth Dreifuss, and WHO Director General Margaret Chan.

    From left to right: WTO Director General Pascal Lamy, former president of the Swiss Confederation Ruth Dreifuss, and WHO Director General Margaret Chan.

    The biggest achievement of the report, she said, is that it demystifies an intricate and extremely complex landscape of laws and policies and makes them accessible to the non-specialist. “It provides a comprehensive and coherent inventory of legal instruments and policy options that you as a sovereign state can draw on to craft measures that meet national public policy objectives.”

    In a final comment, Chan said that an important flexibility in the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) gives least developed countries transition time, extended until 1 July 2013, before obliging them to implement provisions in the agreement. She called for a possible further extension of this transition.

    “I respect the sovereignty and the multilateral systems in WTO and WIPO, but from a public health perspective an extension of this transition period is worth consideration,” she said.

    WIPO Sees Innovation Opportunity

    WIPO Director General Francis Gurry said the study represents “an expression of the basis of open innovation, namely as it is extremely unlikely that one institution has all the good ideas and all the knowledge, so the more we can collaborate, the better the result that will be produced.”

    The study provides an opportunity to recognise the complexity and interconnectivity in most issues and in particular of the health issue, “which emphasises the advantages, if not the necessity, of cooperation,” he said.

    There are few issues in the world perhaps as sensitive as IP and health, Gurry said. The mission of IP has evolved in the course of the last 10 or 15 years, he said. IP is mechanism that touches the whole process of the production, possession, and distribution of knowledge and culture, and within that whole process, “I believe the mission of IP is to find a balance or equilibrium point between all of those various interests and equities that surround that process,” he said. “The report demonstrates the multiplicity of interests that surround that process.”

    WHO Director General Margaret Chan and WIPO Director General Francis Gurry.

    WHO Director General Margaret Chan and WIPO Director General Francis Gurry.

    In the health field, the interests are multiple and difficult to reconcile, according to Gurry. There are interests in encouraging innovation, interests in enabling intellectual assets to be diffused, and interests in enabling the social benefit of innovation to be enjoyed. Finding the point of equilibrium between these three sets of interests is an exceptionally difficult task, he said. “I don’t believe that there is any one balance for eternity here,” but a repeated process to find a balance, and “the report demonstrates there are multiple instruments of balance.”

    The heads of the three international organisations were careful to underline the fact that the report is does not have a prescriptive function. “The function of the study is not to pronounce the final or authoritative word on the issues it addresses,” Lamy said. The study is meant to “provide a stronger shared platform of objective information to build the capacity of policymakers and to serve as the basis for informed policy discussions,” he said. “I commend the study to you as a practical resource, not as a doctrinal treatise.”

    “We expect it will catalyse the cross-disciplinary dialogue, pooling of resources and coordination of technical assistance that has been the hallmark of our work on public health with our colleagues in the WHO and WIPO, ” Lamy said.

    Members of the audience who took the floor lauded the initiative. Among them was Greg Perry, executive director of the Medicines Patent Pool, who said in a release, “This report adds further weight to the idea of public-health oriented licensing as a key win for all stakeholders in the public health arena: from pharmaceutical companies, to generic companies, to – most importantly – people living with HIV.”

    “In light of it,” he said, “the Pool invites pharmaceutical companies holding key HIV medicines patents who have not yet licensed them to the MPP to do so.”

     

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

     

    Comments

    1. Research Roundup: What we’re reading this week | Global Health Technologies Coalition Blog says:

      [...] World Trade Organization, World Health Organization, and World Intellectual Property Organization outlines policies needed to advance new medical and health technologies, and to ensure that they reach the people who need [...]


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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.

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    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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