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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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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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    Interview With WIPO Director General Francis Gurry On New WIPO Treaty

    Published on 27 June 2013 @ 6:25 am

    By , Intellectual Property Watch

    WIPO Director General Francis GurryWith this week’s agreement in Marrakesh, Morocco on an international treaty to ease cross-border access for the blind to copyrighted books, the UN World Intellectual Property Organization has completed its second treaty in the past 12 months – with more potentially on the way. WIPO Director General Francis Gurry sat down with Intellectual Property Watch‘s Catherine Saez in Morocco hours after the treaty text was agreed by WIPO members to discuss what it means.

    Intellectual Property Watch (IPW): Can you tell us why the treaty is important?

    Francis Gurry (FG): For WIPO, as an organisation, I think it is extremely important that we maintain our relevance to economic rulemaking. The member states are demonstrating that they have the capacity to tackle specific problems, and to achieve a consensus on a result for those problems.

    For intellectual property, it is very important, because this is a treaty which was needed. It addresses a problem which needed to be solved in the IP system. Essentially, the cross-border transfer of works in accessible formats under certain exceptions. It shows that the IP system can be expansive and take care of the interests of the beneficiaries of the IP system, and take care of the interests of all parts of society.

    For multilateralism, it is important because the international community in general has a limited capacity at the moment to achieve agreement, and it is good to have a success for multilateralism. The treaty is a demonstration that you can get things done through multilateralism.

    And, of course, we did this for the visually impaired. There was a problem. It needed to be addressed and I think in the end the international community has stepped up to the mark and demonstrated that it was capable of doing that. For beneficiaries, it delivers a system which is simple, efficient and which is going to make a difference in ending the book famine.

    IPW: Can you describe what this treaty will achieve?

    FG: Essentially two things. First of all the treaty universalises an exception, and I use that to cover licensing schemes as well. The exception to be able to create works in accessible formats exists in the laws of some 57 countries, but there are 192 in the world. So the treaty universalises this exception. A country signing on to the treaty undertakes to have such an exception in their laws at the national level.

    The second thing it does is it that it makes those exceptions talk to each other. In other words, if you create an accessible format copy under an exception in one country, you will be able, because of the treaty, with legal certainty, to transfer that copy in accessible format to another country that is a contracting party.

    Of course there are various assurances built around those two things to make sure they operate within the context of the copyright system.

    WIPO Director General Francis Gurry (Photo Credit: WIPO)

    WIPO Director General Francis Gurry (Photo Credit: WIPO)

    IPW: Stakeholders and delegations said WIPO greatly helped in the process. Could you specify how WIPO tried to help this process?

    FG: This happened because member states had the political will to make it happen and that is really important.

    What we do, I think, is just try to make sure member states are on track in translating their political will into results. We try to be of assistance to the process by talking to various parties and being a messenger between parties.

    IPW: Would you say that the fact WIPO supported the presence of a large representation of visually impaired really helped the case?

    FG: I think so. Great credit to them! They did it in the first place. They identified the problem and brought that to the political attention of policymakers. Their persistence and self-belief that they were capable of doing this was admirable.

    IPW: Unanimous satisfaction was expressed at the outcome, with only a little reservation from some of the publishing industry representatives. In the light of alleged industry pressure influencing the EU and the US, would you say that is a good sign that lobbying influence in this instance, although taken into account, did not overrule the general public good in the end?

    FG: Absolutely. But let’s pay some credit to the publishers. They agreed that a treaty was necessary. I think they had the political maturity to accept that a treaty was going to come and the political maturity to agree that it was a good thing. What they wanted to do is to make sure that their interests were appropriately protected and I think that is something that one can’t criticise.

    The fact that you found no dissenting voice about the result is a great success and I think that if the right holders were unhappy we would know it. They may not have seemed to be the most happy but we have not heard any complaint. It is important that lobbying does not determine the results.

    IPW: This is the only treaty that provides an exception to copyright, although exceptions to copyright are enshrined in several international copyright treaties. Do you think that could be a step in the door for other exceptions?

    FG: I would prefer to look upon this result as a complete result in itself. One step at a time: Here there was a specific problem and a specific solution. I think we can make progress by focusing on specific questions rather than having general ideas.

    IPW: One developing country delegate, in his opening statement, mentioned exceptions for education, libraries, and archives, which are still on the agenda of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights.

    FG: If one talks about them in a general or theoretical manner, it raises fears, so we have to deal with these things in discreet, sequential ways.

    IPW: WIPO has been successful lately, Beijing last year [audiovisual treaty], Marrakesh this year. Other potential WIPO treaties are in the pipeline, the design treaty and the broadcasting treaty, maybe also a treaty on the protection of traditional knowledge, genetic resources and traditional cultural expressions. Will Marrakesh, which was a difficult one, encourage countries to be a little more daring in taking steps outside their usual stances?

    FG: I hope so. I think the experience of both Beijing and especially Marrakesh have been a learning process. We all have learned. All the member states, everyone has learned a lot out of this. We are more mature as an organisation as a consequence because we’ve seen what the influence of lobbying is like, we’ve seen the political complications and the political dimensions.

    We’ve seen how things can easily get off the track, and how to bring them back. So it’s been a real learning experience for us all. And I hope that gives us an enhanced capacity to be able to tackle these other questions that are on the agenda although, again, none of them is easy. But if we apply the know-how that is accumulated within the organisation to the other ones, theoretically we should be able to continue to make some progress.

    In general, I think the treaty is a wonderful result. First, because to see the beneficiary community so pleased with the result is very touching and makes all the pain of the negotiations worthwhile and, secondly, because I think everyone is pleased with the outcome here and everyone feels that we have actually contributed to helping to resolve the problem in a very concrete manner and in a way in which everyone’s interests have been paid attention to. Nobody has been left out in this process. The organisation should be proud of the process that has been conducted.

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

     


    Leave a Reply

    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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