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    Inside Views
    Inside Views: Should Industry Support LDCs’ Request For Unlimited Time To Implement The TRIPS Agreement? Absolutely

    Published on 4 March 2013 @ 1:47 pm

    Disclaimer: the views expressed in this column are solely those of the authors and are not associated with Intellectual Property Watch. IP-Watch expressly disclaims and refuses any responsibility or liability for the content, style or form of any posts made to this forum, which remain solely the responsibility of their authors.

    Intellectual Property Watch

    By Nick Ashton-Hart

    Some of you may have noticed that the ICT sector trade association that I represent in Geneva, the Computer and Communication Industry Association (CCIA), has endorsed a bid by the world’s Least Developed Countries (LDC’s) to remove any specific deadline for full compliance with the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement.

    While this was only announced on 4th March it has been in the works for a while, and when discussing it with member-states many seemed surprised that an industry association would support the extension.

    It is certainly true that intellectual property protection is important to the ICT [information and communications technology] sector, but from CCIA’s perspective, it is a mistake to see IP in isolation, ignoring all other public policy priorities. Simply creating IP laws does not create a culture of innovation in a country – and implementing IP systems is not cost-free. Legislation alone does not make a functioning IP system, you have to create the infrastructure that enables it, such as creating a patent application and review process, copyright royalty handling systems, etc.  It is also necessary to craft remedies in the case of infringement that are balanced and enable rights holders to have reasonable recourse to protect their property – and that’s just to get started.

    For LDCs, where the average per-capita daily income is just over US$2, you cannot close your eyes to the fact that the average citizen is dealing with very profound basic issues: access to clean water, food, clothing, shelter, education – and basic medical care. A recent factsheet by UNDP and UNAIDS makes very sobering reading.

    If you are a policymaker in an LDC, are you likely to believe creating IP systems is the best way to spend your governments’ funds, or is concentrating on the basics your people need a better approach?  The answer you or I would make to that question is irrelevant – what matters is that LDC policymakers are free to answer that question in the negative for as long as they need to if they believe that’s the right approach for them.

    That’s one reason why we support the extension.

    The second is also pretty simple, and it boils down to one word: legitimacy.

    The IP system cannot be seen as blind to basic concepts of social justice, proportionality, and common humanity or it will lose legitimacy. Forcing LDCs to implement TRIPS fully based upon a timetable which disregards their needs would be very damaging to IP.  Any company that believes IP is an important part of their business should care that the system isn’t deligitimized by shortsided actions that result in the world’s poorest paying the richest for medicine and other essential technologies. IP is abused by that kind of rent-seeking in some sectors now – and has been for some time – and the actions of a relative few have damaged the interests of the rest. This is an opportunity for the many to make clear that the actions of a relative few aren’t the norm, but the exception.

    The LDCs’ proposal is an opportunity for all concerned with IP to recapture legitimacy. It is the right thing to do from a self-interested perspective on that basis. For companies that take seriously the concepts of corporate social responsibility and that have active CSR programmes supporting the LDC extension is a good way to ‘walk the walk’ – and in many sectors, to do so at no cost whatever.

    More profoundly in my personal estimation is that it is just the right thing to do – if you believe, as I do, that we owe it to humanity to choose sustainable and morally justifiable policies – and that those in the privileged position of impacting public policy have an especial obligation because of that impact.

    At some point, LDCs will want to start implementing balanced IP systems because that will help them develop further. We all want to live to see the day when there are no longer any countries that still qualify as LDCs. The best way to ensure that day comes is to bring them into the IP system over time and in sync with their needs.

    [Note: The CCIA press release on the LDC extension is available here.]

    Nick Ashton-Hart is CCIA’s Geneva Representative. You can follow him on twitter on @nashtonhart. CCIA is the only ICT sector trade association with a permanent presence in Geneva and is online at www.ccianet.org.

     

     

    Comments

    1. WTO: Wide Support For LDC TRIPS Extension, With A Hitch | Intellectual Property Watch says:

      [...] an op-ed piece in support of the LDCs in the Intellectual Property Watch Inside Views column (IPW, Inside Views, 4 March 2013). In a release, CCIA said it “endorsed a bid by the world’s Least Developed Countries (LDC’s) [...]

    2. TRIPS nie powinien wymagać od najbiedniejszych ochrony własności intelektualnej | Prawo autorskie. Co nas uwiera? says:

      [...] źródło: IP-watch [...]

    3. Knowledge Commons .de » Interesting OpEd by ICT association: ‘Should Industry Support LDCs’ Request For Unlimited Time To Implement The TRIPS Agreement? Absolutely says:

      […] Link to OpEd on http://www.ip-watch.org/2013/03/04/should-industry-support-ldcs-request-for-unlimited-time-to-implem… […]


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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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