The latest briefs from the IP community
A report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the right to privacy in the digital age has been lauded by a group of civil society organisations who also called states to curtail mass surveillance and for the ITU constitution to be amended.
The Just Net Coalition (JNC), in a release [pdf], said the report confirms an element of the organisation’s “Delhi Declaration” on the right to privacy and the use of the internet without mass surveillance, but the Netmundial outcome document did not bear a clear statement “to that effect.”
The report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the right to privacy in the digital age was released on 30 June.
The JNC “calls on all states, including states that, to date, have resisted calls to curtail mass surveillance – in particular the USA [United States], UK [United Kingdom], and Sweden – to embrace to the High Commissioner’s report and to accept its recommendations in full and without reservation,” according to the release.
The organisation also said that the forthcoming International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Plenipotentiary Conference would be an opportunity to transpose the High Commissioner’s report into “binding treaty language.”
In particular, the JNC said that Article 37 (Secrecy of Telecommunications) of the ITU Convention should be amended to be strengthened.
Separately the Ninth Annual Internet Governance Forum Meeting is being held in Istanbul, Turkey on 2-5 September.
The US IP industry is applauding the nomination of trademark attorney Daniel Marti to be the next US Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator.
Marti is managing partner of the Washington, DC office of Kirkpatrick Townsend.
According to his bio, Marti has represented clients in cases involving trademarks, false advertising, unfair competition, copyrights, trade secrets, cybersquatting and computer fraud and abuse before US federal courts, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) and the World Intellectual Property Organization.
The IPEC post has been empty since Victoria Espinel left for the Business Software Alliance one year ago.
“We are pleased to see the administration moving forward with filling this critical role and the Chamber is anxious to build on the successes and momentum” of the IPEC, David Hirschmann, president and CEO of the Chamber’s Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC), said in a statement. “As Congress recognized when it created this position in 2008 with strong bipartisan support, American consumers, workers and job creators, benefit from this critical effort to protect our creative and innovative industries.”
The Chamber was active in the legislation authorising the position and has made filling it a high priority, a source said.
The International IP Alliance said the coordinator “fulfills an important mission within the Administration, overseeing activities both domestically and abroad to help workers and businesses that depend on strong intellectual property rights protection,” citing statistics on jobs and economic value of IP, and urging quick confirmation of Marti.
[Update:] Meanwhile, knowledge access advocates are hopeful that Marti will approach enforcement issues with balance.
“We congratulate Mr. Marti on his appointment as the new IP Enforcement Coordinator,” said Public Knowledge. “We trust that his background in these issues means that he will appreciate the fact that enforcing IP rights is a balancing act that not only includes proceeding against suspected infringers, but also maintaining the boundaries of the law – ensuring that lawful activities aren’t chilled through the abuse of copyright, trademark, and patent laws. Such abuses can not only restrict the legitimate businesses of competitors and innovators; they can restrain open communication and be used to bypass due process. We look forward to working with Mr. Marti in his new role.”
Separately, it has been reported that the Obama administration is considering Texas federal prosecutor Sarah Saldaña for director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The European Commission recently launched a public consultation on the protection of geographical indications for non-agricultural products.
The European Union has been a long-term proponent of geographical indications. A geographical indication (GI) refers to a product originating from a place from which it derives particular quality, reputation or other characteristics. Examples in the EU are Bordeaux wine and Parma ham. Non-agricultural products do not at this time enjoy a unitary GI protection at EU level beyond national laws, according to a press release.
The Green Paper consultation runs from 17 July to 28 October. The consultation has two parts. The first concerns “the current means of protection provided at national and EU level and the potential economic, social and cultural benefits that could be achieved by improved GI protection in the EU,” according to the release.
The second part “includes more technical questions to seek the views of interested parties on possible options for EU-level GI protection for non-agricultural products.”
Non-agricultural products such as Bohemian crystal, Scottish tartans, Murano glass or Tapisserie d’Aubusson have been mentioned as possible examples by EU officials.
A recent paper published by the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition criticises a joint study by the European patent and trademark offices as lacking insight about the economic effects of intellectual property.
Authors Annette Kur, a senior researcher, and Dietmar Harhoff, an economist and head of the Max Planck Institute, said the report, which underlines the importance of intellectual property in the economy, does not “provide evidence regarding the causal relationship between IP and the economic data.”
The report, which found that 39 percent of GDP of the EU is generated by IPR-intensive industries, has been instrumentalised for political purposes to support claims for more stringent IP enforcement measures, the paper says.
However, it said, the report “cannot reveal whether (or to what degree) IP protection is a factor which as such boosts the economic performance of certain industries or countries.”
The authors remarked that the EPO/OHIM report is close to a study [pdf] undertaken by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, published in March 2012. They also underlined the fact that policymakers are under pressure to base legislation on economic evidence.
“Causal evidence on the effect of IPRs is still rare, and it tends to address specific and sometimes narrow areas of IPR use,” they warned.
A new legal analysis looks at the 1 July oral hearing of the European Court of Justice (CJEU) on Spain’s nullity actions against the regulations on the “unitary patent” and its language regime.
The report, entitled, “’Unitary patent” and court system – The oral hearing on Spain’s actions at the CJEU,” was authored by intellectual property attorney Ingve Björn Stjerna, and is published on his blog, stjerna.de, here.
“Although the three-hour hearing does not allow any direct conclusions on the Court’s position, the ‘unitary patent package’ might face new difficulties whatever the outcome of the proceedings will be,” Stjerna’s report states.
The Advocate-General’s opinion in the case is scheduled to be announced on 21 October.
The International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development recently issued papers on competition analyses of licensing agreements and on the measurement of trade and innovation.
The first paper [pdf], authored by Hiroko Yamane, professor emeritus at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo, is titled, “Competition Analyses of Licensing Agreements: Considerations for Developing Countries under TRIPS.”
The discussion paper seeks to analyse provisions in the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) on the control of anti-competitive practices in contractual licences, in particular in Article 40.
According to the document, “Article 40 is flexible and leaves WTO Members a considerable margin of discretion in interpreting the emanating of ‘an abuse of intellectual property rights having an adverse effect on competition in the relevant market.’” The discussion paper uses Japan’s licensing regulation as a case study.
The second paper [pdf], presented as a “think piece” is authored by Daniela Benavente, member of the E15 initiative, and titled, “Measurement of Trade and Innovation: Issues and Challenges.” According to ICTSD, the piece is part of a compilation of papers for the E15 expert group on trade and innovation.
The paper aims at presenting issues and challenges on the measurement of trade-related aspects of innovation. The document also includes recommendations and seeks “to encourage international organisations and countries to improve the collection, compilation and dissemination of data relevant to both trade and innovation.”
By Catherine Saez
The European Commission white paper on its ongoing copyright reform will not be available until early fall, a Commission source said this week. Officials had previously indicated that the paper might be published this month.
A leaked draft of the white paper emerged in recent weeks, but it is unclear what further changes might be forthcoming.
The Commission has been working on reform of EU copyright rules with a view of modernising them to fit the needs of the digital age. Following a project “licences for Europe,” and a public consultation launched from December 2013 to March 2014, the EU Commission had hinted that a white paper would be published by summer. [Update] An EU summary of responses [pdf] to the public consultation has been circulated on the A2K listserv.
According to a Commission spokesperson, the white paper is not expected to be published before early autumn.
A draft document [pdf] was leaked on the IPKat blog last month. It looks into several areas, such as the application of rights in digital networks; improving access to information and knowledge for persons with a disability; private copying; providing a legally sound space for user-generated content; fair remuneration of authors and performers; and solutions for mass digitisation.
United Nations experts are underlining the importance of using the term “indigenous peoples” in a UN draft set of sustainable development goals from which they say the term has been deleted.
In a release posted on the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on 18 July, the three experts: Dalee Sambo Dorough, chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Albert Deterville, head of the five-strong Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and Victoria Lucia Tauli-Corpuz, new UN Special Rapporteur on indigenous peoples issues, alleged that all references to indigenous peoples have been deleted from the latest draft document.
The document was issued by an open-ended working group discussing sustainable development goals. The working group was established following the June 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro.
The call from experts comes after a meeting of the working group in New York to draft a set of goals, to be presented to the UN General Assembly in September, according to the release.
“Using the term ‘indigenous and local communities’ undermines the gains achieved by indigenous peoples regarding their assertion of their distinct status and identity as peoples and the rights accorded to them under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other international instruments,” the experts said in the release.
This issue is also recurrent at the World Intellectual Property Organization Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) (IPW, WIPO, 18 July 2013).
By Catherine Saez
A European Union-funded initiative is seeking to strengthen the links between small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the research community on environmental technologies.
GreenEcoNet is coordinated by a consortium of six research networks which specialise in green economy transitions. The website was launched at the end of June to serve as a platform connecting SMEs to each other and “to solutions, to finance, tools and to policy makers,” according to the website.
The platform is expected to include a searchable database of good practices, case studies and tools, and “a series of in-person dialogues and workshops,” according to the website. It is supposed to help connect SMEs, policy-makes and researchers in order “to explore the opportunities, challenges and innovations required for the transition to green economies at a practical level.”
The consortium is composed of the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), an independent international research institute; the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), a EU think-tank working on EU policies; the Green Economy Coalition (GEC), a civil society group working on green economy issues; the Ecologic Institute, a private non-profit think tank for applied environmental research, policy analysis and consultancy; the Joint Implementation Network (JIN), a knowledge centre working on climate change and sustainable development; and the University of Piraeus Research Centre (UPRC) (Greece).
By Maëli Astruc for Intellectual Property Watch
A joint United Nations commission on food safety this week has set several new standards on level of lead, arsenic and drugs appearing in food.
The Codex Alimentarius is a joint World Health Organization-Food and Agriculture Organization commission which sets international food safety and quality standards to promote safer and more nutritious food for consumers worldwide, according to a briefing note for media.
The Codex Alimentarius Commission 37th session is taking place in Geneva from 14-18 July.
The commission has adopted new standards on maximum level of lead in infant formula and of arsenic in rice. The commission also recommended restricting the use of certain veterinary drugs in order to prevent residual amount of drugs remaining in meat, milk, eggs of honey, according to the press briefing note.
Codex Alimentarius standards are recommendations to states, and try to be balanced, the commission said.
“We have this principle that is called ALARA (As Low As Reasonably Achievable). What ‘reasonably’ means is that you have to balance how low you can go without having to discard the majority of the food supply. It is a balance between food safety and food security,” Angelika Tritscher, coordinator at the WHO Food Safety Department, told a press briefing today in Geneva.
By Catherine Saez
A World Health Organization report launched yesterday showed progress has been achieved in the fight against non-communicable diseases but it has been uneven, as some 38 million people die each year from those diseases.
The Noncommunicable Diseases Country Profiles 2014 [pdf] provides an overview of the current status of NCDs in each WHO member state. It found that progress within countries was substantial as over 90 percent of the 178 countries surveyed “have a unit or department in the Ministry of Health responsible for NCDs.”
The report, launched on the side of a high-level meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, is based on four behavioural and metabolic risk factors: tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption, high blood pressure, and obesity. NCDs include cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes.
The report underlines that “while many countries have started to align their policies and resources with the nine global targets and the WHO Global NCD Action Plan 2013-2020, progress in countries has been insufficient and highly uneven.”
The fight against NCDs was a prominent issue discussed at the World Health Assembly in May (IPW, WHO, 19 May 2014).
By Maëli Astruc for Intellectual Property Watch
The European Commission today launched the first call for projects of the EU Innovation Investment Package agreed last year. The investment package comprises seven public-private partnerships and four public-public partnerships, for a total investment of more than €22 billion euros.
Projects to be developed cover areas such as medicines, transport, electronics and bio-economy, according to a press release.
The initiative falls under Horizon 2020, the EU’s €80 billion euro research and innovation programme.
Calls are open to the participation of companies, small and medium-sized enterprises, universities, researchers and others.
Further description of areas related to the call is available here.
Members of the World Trade Organization today opened negotiations on the liberalisation of environmental technologies or “green goods.”
According to a European Union release, Australia, Canada, China, Costa Rica, EU, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, Singapore and the United States are discussing ways to eliminate tariffs or customs duties on a “broad list of green goods that help clean the air and water, help manage waste, are energy efficient, control air pollution, and help generate renewable energy like solar, wind, or hydroelectric.”
A joint statement announced the launch of the “Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA).”
A second stage of the initiative, which is hoping to attract other members, could address non-tariff barriers and environmental services, according to the release.
This development stems from a 24 January pledge by the members of the initiative to launch negotiations to liberalise global trade in environmental goods, in what was called the “green goods initiative.”
The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) in a release hailed the initiative and said the 14 participating members represent “86 percent of global trade in environmental goods.” The USTR added that “global trade in environmental goods totals nearly $1 trillion annually, and some Members currently apply tariffs as high as 35 percent on these products.”
“Tariffs add unnecessary costs to the green technologies and solutions we need to protect the environment;” the USTR release said. The EGA is expected to increase market access for US manufacturers, according to the release, which states that the EGA “is the primary trade aspect of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, announced at Georgetown University in June, 2013.”
Developing countries and civil society have often warned that intellectual property rights attached to new green technologies could represent a barrier to the diffusion of such technologies in the South.
By Maëli Astruc for Intellectual Property Watch
The International Publishers Association (IPA) held a side event at the World Intellectual Property Organization on 1 July to present new business models related to e-book lending. And separately, WIPO has launched an update of a guide to making a living from music.
The demand for e-books is rapidly increasing, but publishers have long been reluctant to propose e-lending solutions to librarians, concerned by security issues and potential negative effect on sales.
But new business models and secure e-lending have been developed since, mostly based on licensing agreements. A panel comprised of Demis Zvirn, founder and CEO of Numilog, Daniela Manole, a Brazilian publisher, André Mybirgh, legal counsel at the STM Publishers Association, and Jens Bammel, secretary general of IPA in Geneva, presented business models and publishers’ concerns so as an IPA publication [pdf] on e-lending solutions developed in four countries.
Separately, WIPO launched on 4 July the second edition of a publication [pdf] entitled, “How to Make a Living from Music” written and presented by David Stopps with opening remarks by Trevor Clarke, assistant director general for copyright at WIPO. This publication provides tools to help music artists to enter into the music market, notably through copyright and related rights.
By Catherine Saez
The European Commission has issued a working document in which they identify policy areas to support the long-term sustainability of the pharmaceutical sector.
The document [pdf], titled “Pharmaceutical Industry: A Strategic Sector for the European Economy, ” underlines the importance of intellectual property rights for the sector. It also “focuses on the developments of the last years as a first step in preparing a strategic agenda.”
Several policy areas are identified by the document “where actions have been already undertaken and which are worth exploring in more details in the future.”
These include: setting priorities with regards to the development of new therapies; ensuring long-term sustainability of the pharma sector, in particular through the fostering of “public-private co-operation”; improving access to medicines worldwide, and reinforcing the presence of the European pharma industry in the global market, according to a Commission release.
An event is expected to take place in the fall gathering a number of different stakeholders, “in order to prepare future policy decisions.”
In a release, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations hailed the document.
By Catherine Saez
A group of African civil society institutions is calling for a revision of the draft protocol on plant variety protection of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation.
Recently approved by the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), the protocol has been under fire from civil society for some time.
The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) has issued a submission and sent it to ARIPO, the African Union (AU), and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)“to urgently revise the draft ARIPO Plant Variety Protection Protocol.
In particular, AFSA is asking for “a broader consultation process with farmer organisations and experts from outside of the plant breeders’ right sector.” ARIPO “has failed to comply with Article V of the 1976 Lusaka Agreement establishing the ARIPO (Lusaka Agreement), which requires ARIPO to consult with the AU and UNECA,” they said.
AFSA is calling for the draft protocol to comply with “the more flexible effective sui generis requirements of TRIPS [pdf] Article 27.3 (b)” and that it includes provisions that recognise farmers’ rights. TRIPS is the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.
According to AFSA, if the draft protocol is adopted at the next ARIPO diplomatic conference in March 2015, it would allow any ARIPO member that ratifies the protocol to join UPOV.
In AFSA’s view, the “adoption of the least flexible approach in the realm of plant breeders’ rights, as set out in the draft ARIPO PVP Protocol, represents a protection regime that goes further than UPOV 1991, hence it is correct to describe it as ‘UPOV 1991+’.”
The United Nations Office in Geneva today announced the official arrival of the new ambassador of the United States to the UN in Geneva, Pamela Hamamoto.
Hamamoto, from California, comes from a finance background with expertise in the telecommunications and energy sectors, and was a major fundraiser for President Obama. She is expected to have responsibility for UN agencies such as the World Intellectual Property Organization and International Telecommunication Union.
She was nominated last September (IPW, US Policy, 6 September 2013).
Below is today’s UN press release:
“The new Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations Office at Geneva, Pamela Hamamoto, today presented her credentials to Michael Møller, the Acting Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva.
Prior to her appointment to Geneva, Ms. Hamamoto had been serving as a member of the Board of Trustees at the Branson School, from 2012 to 2013, and as a member of the Board of Trustees at Marin County Day School, where she also chaired the Finance Committee and Audit Committee, from 2007 to 2013. From 1999 to 2008 she was a member of the Board of Trustees at Ring Mountain Day School, where she performed various leading functions.
Throughout the 1990s, Ms. Hamamoto worked as an investment banker at Goldman, Sachs & Co. in New York and San Francisco, and at Merrill Lynch & Co. in Los Angeles, where she managed a broad array of equity and debt financings for large corporate clients. From 1986 to 1988, Ms. Hamamoto worked in the telecommunications industry, providing strategic guidance to GTE Corporation and GTE Hawaiian Tel. She began her career in the energy sector, working as a civil engineer for Pacific Gas & Electric Co. from 1983 to 1985. Ms. Hamamoto received a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Civil Engineering from Stanford University in 1983, and a Master of Business Administration from the University of California at Los Angeles Anderson School of Management in 1990. She is married with two children.”
By Maëli Astruc for Intellectual Property Watch
To coincide with the International IP Enforcement Summit held on 11-12 June in London, the United Kingdom (UK) Intellectual Property Crime Group produced a preliminary version of its annual report to showing actions taken by several organisations to fight counterfeiting products.
Founded in 2004 by the UK Intellectual Property Office, UK IP Crime brings together more than 20 members from private sector, enforcement agencies and government departments “who have a role in tackling IP crime in the UK,” according to the report.
Some $US 174 million in counterfeit products were seized across the globe in 2013, according to Interpol. This included a record 12.2 million pounds of fake and unlicensed medicines as part of Operation Pangea during the period the report covers, according to the Medical and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.
The interim report also highlighted industry initiatives in the UK to fight counterfeit products, for example by removing online links leading to copyrights infringements materials. A total of 1,602,483 links were removed by the Publishers Association in 2013, and 72,000,000 by the British Recorded Music Industry, it said.
In another development, copyright group PRS for Music developed semi-automated search technology to locate links with musical works deemed to be infringing. Using this technology, it was able to successfully remove 73,333 files during 2013, embodying 2,339,118 infringed musical works, with 99.48 percent of the files reported resulting in a successful removal, it said.
The final report should be published by the end of the summer.
By Catherine Saez
To mark the 50th anniversary of the funding of the Group of 77 developing countries. the group published a declaration reaffirming the needs of developing countries. The group, they said, was established to address imbalances in the global economy which still prevail today.
The declaration [pdf] by the Group of 77 plus China underlines the importance for developing countries to make use of the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) for public health and access to medicines. The declaration also calls for developed countries not to take action against developing countries making use of such flexibilities, including trade measures.
The group further calls on developed countries and international organisations “to provide adequate financial assistance to support the transfer of reliable and affordable technologies and to promote capacity-building, taking into account national priorities.”
The declaration covers a wide range, calling for more South-South cooperation, reform of the international financial architecture, and for the international community “to redress the democratic deficit in global economic governance.”
They also ask that developing countries have a “rightful place” and participation in governance and decision-making institutions, and stressed the importance of the “central role of the United Nations in global economic governance.”
Infojustice.org writes: “[Mary-Jane Matsolo, Treatment Action Campaign, Link (CC-BY-SA)] Over 70 organisations globally have called on the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to urgently finalise South Africa’s National Intellectual Property (IP) Policy in an open letter delivered today [17 June]. You can find a PDF of the open letter below. The Fix the Patent Law campaign thanks all signatories for their support for improving access to medicines in South Africa!
Open letter from Civil Society groups to Minister Rob Davies and the Newly Appointed Cabinet on the Urgent Need to Finalise and Adopt South Africa’s National IP Policy.”
Infojustice.org post here.