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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 Study: Informal Economy Important To Developing Country Growth, But No IP

    Published on 7 June 2013 @ 1:04 pm

    By , Intellectual Property Watch

    During a recent meeting of the World Intellectual Property Organization Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP), a study on innovation in the informal economy was presented by the organisation’s secretariat. The exercise was conducted in an effort to better understand how innovation occurs and how intellectual property is relevant in that context.

    The Conceptual Study [pdf[ on Innovation, Intellectual Property and the Informal Economy was presented on 15 May during the 11th session of the Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP), which took place from 13 to 17 May. The study was prepared by the WIPO secretariat in collaboration with Jeremy de Beer, associate professor, Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa, Canada, and Kun Fu, research associate at Imperial College, London.

    According to the study, it is part of a project developed by WIPO’s Economics and Statistics Division, implementing WIPO Development Agenda Recommendation 34.

    Recommendation 34 states: “With a view to assisting Member States in creating substantial national programs, to request WIPO to conduct a study on constraints to intellectual property protection in the informal economy, including the tangible costs and benefits of intellectual property protection in particular in relation to generation of employment.”

    The study offers a conceptual framework based on three country case studies conducted in Ghana, on herbal medicines, Kenya, on metal manufacturing, and in South Africa, on the chemical sector.

    According to the study, as presented to the CDIP by Sacha Wunsch-Vincent, senior economic officer in the WIPO Economics and Statistics Division, little is known about how innovation occurs and how IP is, or could be, relevant to the informal economy. The goal of the project, he said, was to improve the understanding in this field, and “in a subsequent step, to offer policy guidance to delegations on this matter.”

    The study found that a number of sectors are involved in the informal economy, he said, such as goods, services, agricultural or manufacturing activities. Beyond economics, there is a strong social dimension in the informal economy, which is an important contributor in terms of growth and employment to most developing countries, he added.

    A lot of innovation in the informal economy is taking place in an environment of scarcity and constraints, he said, where people are trying to overcome a number of barriers to innovating. Innovation in that context is rarely driven by formal research and development, but more by using and adapting existing knowledge to circumvent problems and provide solutions answering customers’ needs and requests.

    No Formal Protection of Innovation in Informal Economy

    Knowledge is not really being protected in a formal way in the informal economy, and there are a lot of limitations in terms of how skills and technologies can be upgraded, according to Wunsch-Vincent.

    In general, the economic literature shows that there are three different instruments to appropriate innovation, he said. These are: informal means, such as being first on the market, make a product complex to imitate, or have strong after-sale services; semi-formal means, like secrecy; and formal forms of appropriation, such as patents or trademarks.

    The informal economy relies mostly on semi-formal or informal means of protection, he said.

    Among limitations to formal means of protection in the informal economy are the relevance and appropriateness of the IP system in that context, he said, citing as an example the need to establish that an invention is novel enough for it to be applicable to the patent system. Another limitation is that actors in the informal economy appear to lack knowledge about their options. They also face high costs, such as those implied by travelling to the capital and getting access to an attorney.

    The study found that very little uniformity exists among countries in terms of policy framework targeted at the informal economy, Wunsch-Vincent said, adding that no active policy approaches to foster innovation and IP in informal economies was uncovered. However, he said some countries have realised for years that the informal economy is a useful contributor to overall growth and that they should instil more innovation in that field, citing South Africa, Kenya, and some countries in Latin America.

    Suggestions for new policy frameworks for innovation in the informal economy could include improving infrastructures, facilitating access to finance and to market, he said. An important point, said Wunsch-Vincent, is how innovation systems in the informal economy can be fostered and how to improve linkages between formal and informal actors.

    In many developing countries, he said, up to 80 percent of formal R&D happens in public research institutions. “But nothing happens to this R&D” because there are no companies that can benefit from this initial research and transform it into some innovation that will impact on growth and employment, he said.

    On IP, there is a strong need for better needs assessment as to where and how IP can be relevant and how hurdles can be overcome, he said, as “there is a lot of scope for improvement.”

    The country studies will be completed over the summer, he said, which is expected to lead to some redrafting of the conceptual study as more information will be available, and this will be presented at the next session of the CDIP.

     

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

     

    Comments

    1. CatsVoice » Blog Archive » WIPO Study: Informal Economy Important To Developing Country Growth, But No IP says:

      [...] Here (Intellectual Property Watch) [...]

    2. JEONG CHUN PHUOC says:

      “INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY BLUEPRINT 2014-2020”
      by Jeong Chun Phuoc, Adv of Competitive Legal Intelligence(CLI)

      OVERVIEW
      If EU focus is on piracy and counterfeiting, the ‘fair use’ factor must be treated objectively. The issue of patents and patenting policy and strategy remains controversial. In the UK, Professor Ian Hargreaves was tasked by the UK government under the leadership of PM David Cameron to give his review on how IP–including patenting activism– affects UK IP innovation and IP growth as a whole within the Single Market.
      The Digital Economy Act has been perceived to be lacking in several departments especially IP innovation, and in the course of industrial interpretation, of course, was perceived to be an imperfect Act under this scorecard measurement. The same applies to patenting and innovation activism.

      ASEAN REGION
      In Asia/ASEAN region, including Singapore and Malaysia, the fair use practice
      has seen much judicial activism that challenges traditional thoughts in IP protection and innovation given the technological flux in an Age of K-Economy.

      MALAYSIAN PERSPECTIVE
      Prof Datuk Khaw Lake Tee(UM), Professor Dr Ida Madieha(IIUM) and Professor Dr.Lim Heng Gee(UITM) and Jeong Chun Phuoc (MMU,NUS,IIUM) of Malaysia have treated with delicate care a plethora of critical domestic IP issues, which have not seen proper redress from a policy and strategic analysis under the Competitive Legal Intelligence(CLI) assessment. These issues have been summarised, for subsequent focus group consultation, by WIPO as follows: Copyright and Related Rights, Dispute Resolution, Domain Names, Electronic Commerce, Franchising, Geographical Indications and Appellations of Origin, Information and Communication Technologies, Industrial Designs, Industrial Property, Intellectual Property, IP and Financing, Licensing, Marketing, Marks, Patents, Research and Development, Traditional Knowledge and Cultural Expressions, Trade, Trade Secrets, Valuation, and New Varieties of Plants,etc.

      However, there are certain IP improvements undertaken by Malaysian Intellectual Property Corporation (MyIPO) Chairman, Dato’ Abdul Manan Ismail in Malaysia. IP advancement has also seen a jump to a better field of IP protection and Innovation spectrum under the leadership of maverick former Chief Justice Tun Zaki Azmi.

      CONCLUDING RECOMMENDATION
      As at 13 June 2013, attempts are being made to quantum leap a draft proposal “Intellectual Property Blueprint 2014-2020″ for the Malaysian government to take lead in charting a new course in IP Innovation Roadmap.

      ………………………………..
      JEONG CHUN PHUOC
      Pioneer Advocate in Competitive Legal Intelligence/CLI; Senior Lecturer-in-Law and Consultant External Law, AZMI & ASSOCIATES(advocates and Solicitors) Menara keck Seng, Jln Bukit Bintang,KL, Malaysia.
      He can be reached at his new email : Jeongchunphuoc@gmail.com


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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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