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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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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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    North American Universities Seen Failing To Promote Socially Responsible Licensing

    Published on 5 April 2013 @ 7:22 pm

    By for Intellectual Property Watch

    A student group is holding top research universities in the US and Canada accountable for how much they are – or are not – contributing to global public health. According to a recently released report by Universities Allied for Essential Medicines, a non-profit organisation, most institutions are falling short when it comes to investing in neglected diseases and promoting access to medicines.

    For the first time, top North American research universities have been graded for their performance in driving medical research for the world’s poorest populations and ensuring that licensing agreements are socially responsible. Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM) led the “report card” initiative, which was launched on 4 April.

    From Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to the University of Alberta, the 54 research universities that were evaluated by the UAEM performed poorly across categories including innovation, access, and empowerment. In terms of investing in neglected disease research, on average, less than three per cent of research funding in 2010 went toward research in neglected diseases such as Chagas disease, sleeping sickness, or paediatric formulations of HIV/AIDS medicines.

    Unni Karunakara, international president of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders), said during a press conference call that universities and academic institutions “play a huge role” when it comes to developing medicines for the one billion people who suffer from neglected diseases worldwide.

    “This is where much of the research is being carried out today, where much of the medical innovation happens,” Karunakara said.

    According to UAEM, at least 25 per cent of new medicines originate in academic labs, many of which receive public funding. Therefore, according to the US-based organisation, how these resources are contributing to global public health should be closely watched.

    Another area where North American research universities performed particularly poorly is in ensuring access to medicine through socially responsible licensing practices. According to the report, inclusion of accessible licensing provisions in exclusive licences was “disappointingly rare” and included on average only 11 per cent of the time.

    The commercial licensing of university medical-research to pharmaceutical companies and biotechs is common and necessary for the production of medicines, but agreements are often not favourable to patients in developing countries. As a timely example, Karunakara pointed to India’s recent denial of a patent on the cancer-drug Geevec, which is manufactured by Novartis. (IPW, IP Law, 1 April 2013)

    “Much of the research was conducted in universities, but of course that drug was priced out of the market for people who really needed that drug,” Karunakara said.

    UAEM researchers also found that it was difficult to glean information on university licensing practices. According to the report findings: “the number of universities willing to self-report data on patenting and licensing metrics was significantly lower than for the innovation and empowerment sections.”

    Bryan Collinsworth, executive director of UAEM, told Intellectual Property Watch that overall university technology transfer offices were “hesitant to be transparent about their licensing practices.”

    “Now, to some extent, that’s understandable because these are agreements with companies, and universities are competing to get the best licensing deals. At the same time, as we really highlight in this report card, much of this is licensing of research that was funded with public and taxpayer dollars. And these are universities that are framing this research as being conducted for the benefit of the global good. So, that suggests to us that there should be a higher level of transparency in how universities are doing their licensing and particularly whether they are including access provisions,” Collinsworth said.

    That said, although universities scored poorly overall on the licensing metric, some universities excelled in this category. For example, the University of British Columbia, which had the best overall ranking, got an ‘A’ for access as it regularly includes access terms in exclusive licences.

    Collinsworth explained that when it comes to managing intellectual property rights in a socially responsible manner, “universities making commitments in this area tend to have slightly better performance on those metrics. So, public commitment does matter.”

    He hopes that by putting the spotlight on these practices, more universities will become inclined to “step it up” if they are serious about global public health.

     

    Rachel Marusak Hermann may be reached at info@ip-watch.org.

     


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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.

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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.

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