WIPO Programmes Seek To Bridge IP And Climate Change, Global Health

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The World Intellectual Property Organization is involved in activities aimed at facilitating technology transfer for green technologies, and research and development for neglected diseases, malaria and tuberculosis. At the request of member states, WIPO’s Global Challenges Division gave a briefing this week on those activities.

Some member states at the Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP) asked that Global Challenges division keep them informed on the division’s activities, according to Konji Sebati, director of WIPO’s Department of Traditional Knowledge & Global Challenges. The last briefing was held in November during the last session of the CDIP, she said.

The 15 May briefing focused on the latest developments concerning WIPO Green and WIPO Re:Search.

The WIPO Global Challenges division’s main objective is to try and address the relationship between intellectual property and innovation in the areas of global health, climate change, and food security, she said. Those areas were selected because developing countries and least developed countries have acute challenges in those three areas, she added.

Facilitating Transfer of Green Technologies

WIPO Green is a platform which has not been formally launched, whose aim is to accelerate adaptation and adoption of environmental technologies. A pilot platform was launched in 2012.

According to Anja von der Ropp, legal officer for the Global Challenges division, WIPO Green is a match-making platform that is designed to foster the development and dissemination of green technologies. It connects technology providers with technology seekers and provides a range of services to catalyse mutually beneficial commercial transactions, she said.

It includes two components, von der Ropp explained. One is a database where providers and seekers can upload needs and solutions, and the second is a network bringing together providers and seekers. These can be non-governmental organisations, intergovernmental organisations, universities, innovators and governmental agencies from around the world, she said.

The platform identifies green technological needs in different regions, facilitates partnerships to develop, adapt and commercialise green technologies, and broadens access to WIPO and third party services resources and advice to accelerate technology transfer.

The initiative address Recommendation 25 of the WIPO Development Agenda, which requests to promote the transfer of technology to the benefit of developing countries, she said. WIPO Green also collaborates with other WIPO divisions, such as the new Innovation Division, the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), the Patent Information Division, and the WIPO regional bureaus.

WIPO Green means to contribute to the global policy discussion at the interface of IP and climate change with factual information and practical tools, she said.

The database covers six areas: administrative, regulatory or design aspects; agriculture/forestry; alternative energy production; energy conservation; transportation; and waste management. Entries can be inventions, technologies, know-how and services, she said, and the network is intended to create networking opportunities.

A roster of consultants will be made available to assist parties in making connections. The mechanism will help make the first contact between providers and seekers, but will not be involved in the negotiations between them. The consultants are meant to assist in that process, she specified. There will also be IP management services and patent information provided by WIPO.

Partners of WIPO Green can be private or public institutions that can contribute in several ways, facilitating transactions directly or indirectly, provide training, and contribute expertise in further development of WIPO Green.

Seekers upload needs for products, processes, know-how, transfer, collaboration and finance, and providers upload technologies that offer patent licences, and advertise products or services, according to von der Ropp, while some other users are just interested in resources and information.

According to the Terms and Conditions for the Use of the WIPO Green Database, “Transfer, sale or license of technology will be governed by individually-negotiated agreements.” Following those conditions, publicly available information accessible without registration includes: the title, description of the technology, the technical field, the type of technology, and the name of the provider.

In order to access the full technology information, including IP information, conditions for use and additional information, users need to register, the document says.

WIPO Green is still in its pilot phase and the project is expected to be launched this autumn, she said. The team worked with 15 collaborating institutions and recently adopted a charter including the functioning of WIPO Green, the accession of members and a governance structure.

WIPO Re:Search, Royalty-free Licences for Research

Thomas Bombelles, senior programme specialist in the WIPO Global Challenges division, presented WIPO Re:Search, a platform for the sharing of IP assets and resources in public health, with a focus on tropical neglected diseases, tuberculosis and malaria.

IP in the field of health can be reduced to patents , Bombelles said, but WIPO Re:Search is beyond patents. It includes actual pharmaceutical compounds, discovery technology, know-how, regulatory data, access to research facilities, and hosting arrangements for developing country scientists in research facilities to improve their capacity.

On the platform, providers of IP assets upload assets and the availability of resources onto the searchable WIPO Re:Search database, which is completely open to the public, he said.

However, accessing information in a database is not enough to spur collaboration, he explained, so the platform has a key partner: BIO Ventures for Global Health which administers a “partnership hub.” This helps researchers looking for specific information or assets and links them up with the providers of those assets and create collaborations, Bombelles said.

BIO Ventures for Global Health is “is a non-profit organization whose mission is to save lives by accelerating the development of novel drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics coming from the biotechnology industry that address the unmet medical needs of the developing world,” according to its website. Its Board of Directors is mainly composed of pharmaceutical and biotechnology executives, and public-private partnership actors.

The IP assets that are made available under WIPO Re: Search are under royalty-free licences for research and development, and manufacture to anyone, anywhere in the world, Bombelles said.

If an actual product is being developed under the terms of aWIPO Re:Search licence, the sale of those products must also be free in all least developed countries and the terms of sale in other countries are to be negotiated between provider and user, he explained. WIPO follows a   long-held practice in the multilateral system in which least developed countries get preferential treatment, he said.

The WIPO Development Agenda requests that the organisation focus on technology and knowledge transfer, capacity building and licensing of IP to foster development in developing countries and least developed countries, he said. Through WIPO Re:Search, WIPO also contributes to the realisation of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, three of which are directly health-related, he added.

WIPO Re:Search has doubled its membership in the last 15 months, Bombelles said, and now has members from Africa, Asia and South America.

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

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