WIPO Innovation Division On Chopping Block?

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Several years ago, the World Intellectual Property Organization set up an “Innovation Division”, headed by US patent lawyers, including a top Silicon Valley attorney and a top lawyer for a giant non-practising entity (“patent troll”). WIPO has been rather secretive about it, offering no interviews to Intellectual Property Watch with the officials heading the division despite repeated requests. Now a letter from US industry groups raises concern that the division may be headed for a budget cut that would effectively eliminate it.

The 2 July letter [pdf] from the Emergency Committee for American Trade, National Foreign Trade Council and the US Chamber of Commerce, said the division is not funded in the WIPO director general’s proposed budget for 2014/2015. The letter comes in advance of next week’s WIPO Program and Budget Committee meeting, which handles budget issues.

The letter, circulated by US patent attorney Harold Wegner of Foley & Lardner, was sent to the US Secretary of State, US Trade Representative and head of the US Patent and Trademark Office.

According to the industry groups, the division bridges the “gap between WIPO and real world.” Wegner called the division the “signature program” of US lawyer James Pooley, the WIPO deputy director general responsible for patents. And last year, Matthew Rainey, general counsel at US NPE Intellectual Ventures, joined the division.

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