The latest briefs from the IP community
The World Trade Organization and World Intellectual Property Organization are jointly offering a course this week on all aspects of intellectual property to a group of officials from developing countries and countries in transition, the WTO has said.
The course held at the two Geneva-based international organisations runs from 10-21 March, and covers a wide range of topics and is intended to be a capacity-building exercise.
According to WTO, 20 participants were selected from developing countries and countries with economies in transition, and their participation was financed by WIPO and WTO. Two additional officials from developed countries were also selected.
Participants are from: Armenia, Argentina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Laos, Malawi, Montenegro, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Uganda.
More information is available here.
The agenda [pdf] includes:
• Setting the Policy Context: Intellectual Property and Public Policy in Developing Countries today
• Intellectual Property in a Trade Law and Developing Countries Setting
• Transparency for Policymakers: The WTO Notification System and the Current Policy Agenda
• Demonstration of Materials on Website
• Intellectual Property and Economic Development
• WIPO Development Agenda; International Policy Processes on IP and Development – UNCTAD perspective; International Policy Process on IP and Development – WTO perspective
• Copyright Overview: The Evolving International Landscape: Law, Policy and Development
• Copyright Exercises
• Trademarks and Industrial Designs: Law, Policy and Development
• Trademarks: The Evolving International Landscape
• Industrial Designs; the Evolving International Landscape
• International Registration and Promotion of Madrid System
• Geographical Indications – Overview of the Provisions in the Lisbon Agreement and Current Work in WIPO
• Geographical Indications – Overview of the provisions in the TRIPS Agreement and Current Work in the WTO
• WTO Delegates’ Perspective
• Patents – Evolving International Landscape: Law, Policy and Development and Patent Cooperation Treaty
• Exercise on Patents
• WTO Dispute Settlement and TRIPS
• Plant Variety Protection: Law, Policy and Development
• Resolving Intellectual Property Disputes without Court Litigation
• Dispute Settlement Reports and Discussion
• Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore – Evolving International landscape
and Future Directions
• Interaction with WIPO Officials on Technical Assistance and Capacity Building in the area of Intellectual Property
• Panel Discussion on Intellectual Property and Public Health – current debate: WTO, WIPO and WHO
• Implementation of Paragraph 6 of the Doha Declaration – Exports Under a Compulsory Licence
• IP and Business
• Intellectual Property and Transfer of Technology
• Global IP Negotiations: present realities and future challenges
• Biotechnology and Patents: evolving international landscape
From the available materials, it appears the instructors for each section come mainly from WIPO and WTO.
By Monika Ermert for Intellectual Property Watch
On the eve of European Parliament’s final decision on consequences from revelations of mass surveillance directed against citizens, several members of the Parliament heavily criticised EU governments for the lack of action.
The Council of Ministers, meanwhile, had not even put the issue on its agenda. “Shame on you,” Liberal Party member Sophie In’t Veld said in the direction of member states in the plenary debate in Strasbourg today.
Europe is even falling behind the United States, where a hearing was held today over the spying on US Congress members. Green Party member Jan-Philip Albrecht called massive breach of fundamental rights and the silence of EU governments about it “scandalous”.
The Parliament NSA inquiry report to be voted on tomorrow includes several measures of considerable consequence, including a re-negotiation of the Safe Harbour Agreement, the agreement currently in place for data flows.
Other agreements to be considered according to the proposals are the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program, and, according to Green Party members, also the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which is being negotiated again this week in Brussels (fourth negotiating round).
But while even members of the conservative European People’s Party (EPP) support a stop to Safe Harbour, the EU Parliament is heavily divided over the issue of protection for Edward Snowden, with the Green and Left Party asking for asylum or “safe harbour” against EPP members.
The steps resulting from the inquiry are topped by a EU “digital habeas corpus” or “digital independence” strategy and the fast adoption of the EU data protection reform, which is also expected to be passed during the plenary tomorrow. A fast adoption by the new data protection package has been blocked by a slow pace of the Council of member states, evoking more criticism by MEPs during their debate today.
A United States government agency later this month will hold the first meeting of a multistakeholder forum on improving the operation of the widespread notice and takedown system for removing infringing content from the internet.
The public meeting, scheduled for 20 March at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), was called for in Commerce Department’s Green Paper on Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy.
The Commerce Department press release follows:
“Washington-The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Internet Policy Task Force (IPTF) will hold the first meeting of the public multistakeholder forum on improving the operation of the notice and takedown system for removing infringing content from the Internet under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) on March 20, 2014 at the USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. The meeting was called for in the Commerce Department’s Green Paper on Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy released last year. The IPTF is a joint effort between the USPTO and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).
The goal of the multistakeholder forum is to identify best practices and/or produce voluntary agreements for improving the operation of the DMCA notice and takedown system. The IPTF plans to hold several additional meetings throughout the year. The initial meeting will focus on identifying concrete topics to be addressed by participants, and to discuss and make decisions about the process for the forum’s ongoing work. The IPTF aims to have participation from a wide variety of the notice and takedown system’s current users, including right holders and individual creators, service providers, and any other stakeholders that are directly affected – such as consumer and public interest representatives, technical and engineering experts, and companies in the business of identifying infringing content.
Issued in July 2013, the Green Paper represents the most thorough and comprehensive analysis of digital copyright policy issued by any administration since 1995. To help produce the Green Paper, the USPTO and NTIA held more than a dozen listening sessions with interested stakeholders, convened a symposium, received hundreds of public comments, and reviewed comments submitted to other agencies on relevant topics.
The meeting will be open to members of the public on a first-come, first-served basis. The meeting will also be webcast at http://new.livestream.com/uspto/CopyrightMarch2014. The agenda for the meeting will be available approximately one week prior to the meeting on the Internet Policy Task Force website (www.ntia.doc.gov/internetpolicytaskforce) and the USPTO website (http://www.uspto.gov/ip/global/copyrights/index.jsp). Additional information including RSVP instructions and directions can be found at http://events.Signup4.com/copyrightgreenpaper and in the Federal Register Notice: www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/03/11/2014-05159/improving-the-operation-of-the-notice-and-takedown-system-under-the-dmca-multist.
For further information regarding the meeting, please contact Hollis Robinson or Darren Pogoda, Office of Policy and International Affairs, at (571) 272-9300, or email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Traditional medical knowledge would be best protected through liability rules instead of patents, according to a book exploring the applicability of intellectual property rights to traditional medical knowledge protection, and in particular if IP rights are suitable to promote the goals of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.
The book, Patents as Protection of Traditional Medical Knowledge, published in the European Studies in Law and Economics series, is authored by Petra Ebermann. She contends that traditional agriculture, crafts, folklore and medical treatment are gaining increasing interest from Western companies.
Numerous cases of biological resource misappropriation have been recorded, she says, and while biological diversity has substantial value in terms of research and development in various fields, the current system may undermine access to future plant-based remedies.
Under a liability regime, “the use of a resource is allowed provided that compensation is paid afterwards.” This form of protection “provides an efficient trade-off because on the one hand an entitlement of traditional knowledge holders is recognised while on the other hand follow-on applications of their knowledge are not impaired,” she explains.
Such a liability regime requires the creation of a supranational collective rights organisation representing all parties that have interests in the final product, monitors the use of traditional knowledge and values the respective contributors, she writes.
The author stresses the importance for developing countries to invest in their own research and development capacities “if they want to capture the benefits from their biological diversity,” and should not limit themselves “to being exporters of the raw materials.”
Further research should be directed towards the shape and effects of a liability-based regime that awards compensation to traditional medical knowledge, she concludes.
The book can be purchased from Intersentia here.
By Julia Fraser for Intellectual Property Watch
The World Health Organization (WHO) has published draft guidelines on sugars intake to reduce non-communicable diseases linked to obesity and dental caries (tooth decay).
The guidelines recommend that sugars should make up less than 10 percent of total energy intake per day, and ideally be less than 5 percent, which amounts to around 6 teaspoons for adults. This includes sugars naturally occurring in foods, as well as in manufactured products. The second category is important as most of the sugars people consume are “hidden” in processed foods that are not considered “sweet”.
The guidelines are intended to help policymakers develop measures to decrease sugar intake which may include food and product labelling as well as consumer education and food-based dietary guidelines.
The guidelines are now open for public consultation and comments until the 31 March and are accessible here. They are simultaneously going through the peer-review process before they can be cleared by the WHO’s Guidelines Review Committee.
Three United Nations agencies have announced that they are uniting forces to fight trafficking, urging travelers to act responsively.
In a press release, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced their joint anti-trafficking campaign at the International Tourism Bourse in Berlin on 5 March.
The campaign entitled, “Your Actions Count – Be a Responsible Traveller,” targets illicit goods and services that tourists might be exposed to while travelling, according to the release, including wildlife, cultural artefacts, illicit drugs and counterfeit goods.
UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov said, “Travellers have a responsibility not to contribute to the profits being generated through organized crime.” Irina Bokova, UNESCO director general, said tourists are easy targets for dealers selling cultural artefacts. “They are usually unaware that these ‘souvenirs’ may be stolen heritage,” according to the release.
Former World Trade Organization director general, Pascal Lamy, who has newly been appointed chairperson of the World Committee on Tourism Ethics, gave his “full support to the initiative,” the release said. “In the light of the ever-growing number of international tourists, we need to promote a more ethical and responsible behavior among travellers.”
The campaign also gained the support of tourism companies Marriott International and Sabre Holdings.
The South Centre, the Geneva-based intergovernmental organisation of developing countries, yesterday issued a statement calling on World Trade Organization members to oppose United States pressure against developing countries, and India in particular, over their intellectual property laws.
The statement argues that Indian policies are in line with the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), and asserts that countries have the right to use flexibilities in the TRIPS Agreement. One area that has been of particular concern is a decision by the US International Trade Commission to investigate Indian practices.
Below is the opening of the statement:
“South Centre Statement on US attacks on Indian IP policy
The following is a Statement issued by the South Centre on 4 March 2014
The South Centre calls on WTO Members to Respect the Legitimacy of the Use of TRIPS Flexibilities for Public Health in light of new threats of unilateral trade measures by the United States against India over its Intellectual Property Laws and Regulations
The South Centre is deeply concerned that developing countries, and more recently the government of India, are facing increasing pressure from the United States of America to reform their intellectual property (IP) laws. The Indian IP laws include balanced provisions to ensure that IP rights do not hinder the ability of the government to adopt measures for promoting development priorities, particularly in the area of public health. These are fully in line with the TRIPS Agreement and reaffirmed by the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health.
A link to the full statement from the South Centre is available here.
By Monika Ermert for Intellectual Property Watch
The Snowden revelations have spurred yet another discussion on how to internationalise or globalise the oversight over the management of core infrastructures of the internet, namely the so-called IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) functions. Why not let the private sector decide?
This week, academics Prof. Milton Mueller and Brenden Kuerbis of Syracuse University, experts in internet governance issues, filed their concept for reform with NetMundial, the upcoming conference in Brazil on the future of internet governance.
The NETmundial conference is scheduled for 23-24 April in Sao Paolo.
Instead of internationalising government control by moving oversight from the US Commerce Department National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to a more inclusive body of governments, they recommend privatisation.
A Domain Name System Authority (DNSA) governed by top-level domain (like .com) registries and the operators of the 13 authoritative root servers of the domain name system would be in charge of managing changes to the DNS root zone.
Development of policies would continue to be performed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) through its multi-stakeholder processes which involve government representatives.
The allocation of internet IP address blocs for further distribution through the five regional internet registries (RIRs) would for the time being also stay with ICANN, while the protocol parameter registry would be moved to its user, the Internet Engineering Task Force.
While proposing a bold step away from the much-debated US oversight, the proposal would allow the fulfilment of the original privatisation promise of the Clinton administration in the creation of ICANN, the authors said.
At the same time, it could cut the Gordian knot of how to involve other governments. One European Union commissioner years ago proposed a council of a dozen or so government members. Also, the existing ICANN Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) has been mentioned as a potential successor to the NTIA.
The Mueller-Kuerbis proposal, made through the Internet Governance Project at Syracuse, has already sparked some discussion, coming at a time when ICANN is trying to cut its original strong US ties a little more.
By Julia Fraser for Intellectual Property Watch
An article published in the March 2014 issue of the World Health Organization Bulletin discusses the evolving issue of access to medicines in Africa.
Africa has traditionally been heavily reliant on generics manufactured in Asia. However, these countries are now moving towards implementing more stringent international intellectual property laws.
For example, the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) requires that patents be made available to all pharmaceutical products. Many countries in Africa have until 2021 to implement these measures as least developed countries.
The article promotes continent-wide collaboration and regional trade agreements to take advantage of prolonged exclusion from the TRIPS agreement requirements to tackle the heavy burden of disease.
This would include building capacities of local manufacturers and incorporating TRIPS flexibilities such as compulsory licencing into their jurisdictions. This would support the free circulation of medicines made by local generic manufacturers within the region.
The article is available here [pdf].
Intellectual property has a strong effect on the practice of science, leading to a shift in research attention for the benefit of the rich, while impeding access to essential goods for the disadvantaged, according to a recent book.
The book by Cristian Timmermann, post-doctoral research fellow at the Jacques Loeb Center for the History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, explores the “complex interaction between intellectual property rights, life sciences and global justice.”
Life Sciences, Intellectual Property Regimes and Global Justice, was written as a PhD thesis at the University of Wageningen, in the Netherlands. According to the author, “our intellectual property regimes clash at various points with human rights law and commonly held notions of justice.”
Intellectual property has “profoundly strengthened the belief that science can and should be self-financeable,” he says. This negatively affects several types of scientific work that cannot be protected by intellectual property, such as indigenous innovation, fundamental research, and incremental innovation.
The author also contends that intellectual property requires that innovation produces goods that are homogenous, “something that disfavours indigenous innovation and is a disincentive for the maintenance of agrobiodiversity.”
“Favouring one type of scientific work over other forms implies that one has a greater societal value than the other. In many cases this has nothing to do with social utility,” he says.
Intellectual property rights, which are unevenly distributed between the North and the South, distort a fair appraisal of research efforts, Timmermann says.
The United States House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform today released a report detailing the US Food and Drug Administration’s “highly-invasive” surveillance programme that monitored employees who contacted Congress and the media, according to a press release from the committee leaders. Surveillance was unauthorised and whistleblowers were not given sufficient protection, the report found.
Below is the press release:
Report on FDA Employee Monitoring: Agency Still Lacks Adequate Whistleblower Protections
WASHINGTON – Today, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, released a joint report on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s highly-invasive surveillance program that monitored employees who contacted Congress and the media with concerns about FDA’s medical device approval process.
Grassley’s testimony before the Oversight Committee on the report is available here.
In April 2010, the FDA initiated a surveillance program of unprecedented scope to monitor employees in the Center for Devices and Radiological Health. The program allowed FDA managers to read communications between FDA employees and Congress, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC), and their personal attorneys. The Joint Committee report, entitled “Limitless Surveillance at the FDA: Protecting the Rights of Federal Whistleblowers,” found the FDA acted without regard for employees’ whistleblower rights, which protect their communications to Congress and OSC. The joint report also found that FDA conducted the program without adequate guidelines in place and made no effort to limit the scope of the program to exclude protected communications.
The Oversight Committee will hold a hearing on the FDA’s surveillance today at 10:00 a.m. in 2154 Rayburn House Office Building.
• Insufficient authorization and guidelines. The monitoring was implemented with insufficient written authorization, no policy in place and no legal guidance given to the contractors conducting the monitoring. As a result, FDA captured communications that are protected by law, including communications with Congress, the media, and watchdog groups like Project on Government Oversight.
• Unlawful capturing of protected communications. Because no formal monitoring policy was in place, FDA managers did not understand the legal limits of employee monitoring. The FDA’s surveillance was not lawful, to the extent that it monitored communications with Congress and the Office of Special Counsel. Federal law protects disclosures to OSC and Congress.
• Lack of explanation for capture of future communications. Instead of looking back at previous communications using available tools, the FDA captured real-time communications of current and future communications. When interviewed, FDA managers and IT professionals failed to explain clearly how the rationale offered to justify the monitoring (investigating a past leak) was consistent with the method used (monitoring current activity).
• New policies do not offer sufficient whistleblower protections. In September 2013, the FDA issued interim policies that require written authorization prior to initiating employee monitoring. However, the policies do not offer sufficient protection for whistleblowers concerned about retaliation from agency officials.
You can read the complete joint report here.
The United States, home to the organisation that oversees technical aspects of the internet domain name system, has advice for an upcoming meeting in Brazil aimed at revisiting the global internet governance: consider principles developed in past meetings, and don’t retread old sore spots. In other words, don’t disrupt the status quo.
“There is precedent for this effort, as other conferences, organizations, nations, and individuals have previously compiled high level principles on Internet governance,” the State Department Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs. “Accordingly, we submit that a good starting point for discussions would be the consideration of principles that are common among these existing efforts and have already garnered widespread or universal support.”
The principles they highlighted from past efforts were:
- “Commitment to the multistakeholder approach, with processes rooted in democratic values, involving the participation of all interested stakeholders, and occurring in a transparent manner.
- Protection of human rights, which apply online just as they do offline.
- Promotion of universal and non-discriminatory access to the Internet.
- Promotion of the stability, security, interoperability, and functionality of the network.
- Promotion of standard setting, regulatory, and legal environments that support innovation and avoid unnecessary duplication.”
They warned: “We believe it is wise to avoid excessive deliberation on issues known to divide participants beyond a distance that can reasonably be bridged in two days. For example, we would discourage meeting participants from debating the reach or limitations of state sovereignty in Internet policy. We are optimistic that NETmundial can meaningfully contribute to the development of Internet governance principles by focusing on those topics that enjoy broad support.”
The NETmundial conference is scheduled for 23-24 April in Sao Paolo, Brazil.
The full US State Department statement to the NETmundial conference is available here.
The domain name system oversight body, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), is based in California and works under a loose understanding with the United States.
Countries such as Brazil are still reacting to the proof revealed by former NSA analyst Edward Snowden of US spying online (IPW, Access to Knowledge, 30 January 2014).
Mike Palmedo at Infojustice.org writes: “The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) is currently investigating “Indian industrial policies that discriminate against U.S. imports… and the effect those barriers have on the U.S. economy and U.S. jobs.” The investigation was requested by Sen. Hatch, Sen. Baucus, Rep. Camp, and Rep. Levin, and the final report is due to be released in November. Last week it held a series of hearings, where it heard from U.S. business, Indian business, and civil society representatives.
The Commissioners repeatedly asked for empirical evidence regarding Indian policies and their effects that these policies have had on American companies. Below I’ve posted a few graphics to show that the experience of the U.S. pharmaceutical industry has been largely positive. They are followed by one graphic comparing prices offered by Bayer and (Indian generic firm) Natco to Indian income by quintile.
Furthermore, U.S. pharmaceutical exports to India are growing at a faster rate than U.S. pharmaceutical exports to the world as a whole. Since the Patents Act was amended in 2005, export growth in India has outpaced overall world growth in six out of eight years.
It is notable that there has not been a single compulsory license granted on an American product. The ITC has been instructed to investigate the effect of Indian policies on the U.S. economy.”
The White House today announced measures that it said will advance its battle against “patent trolls”, and urged Congress to pass patent reform legislation toward the effort. And the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued a statement on its work in support of the executive actions.
“[T]he Administration today is announcing major progress on a series of initiatives designed to combat patent trolls and further strengthen our patent system and foster innovation; issuing new executive actions to build on these efforts; and renewing its call on Congress to finish the job by passing common-sense patent reform legislation,” it said in a fact sheet.
The White House called innovation the “lifeblood” of the US economy, and announced three new executive actions. The new actions are: “crowdsourcing prior art; more robust technical training; and pro bono and pro se assistance.
Meanwhile, the USPTO today highlighted work it is doing to support executive actions taken by President Obama aimed at improving the patent system.
The USPTO announcement was made by recently appointed Deputy USPTO Director Michelle Lee.
Lee’s remarks, along with the work the USPTO is doing to carry out the President’s four executive actions, are available here.
The four previous executive actions taken over the past year are:
- Executive Action 1: Attributable Patent Ownership (formerly “Real Party in Interest”)
- Executive Action 2: Clarity in Patent Claims (formerly “Tightening Functional Claiming”)
- Executive Action 3: Empowering Downstream Users
- Executive Action 4: Expanded Outreach and Focused Study
The European Parliament (EP) is scheduled to vote on 24 February [corrected] on the draft Single Telecoms Package Regulation drafted by the Industry, Research and Energy Committee – on the future of neutral internet.
The draft contains amendments following opinion reports from other committees of the EP and groups. However, there have been concerns that some of these amendments have been watered down by the lead rapporteur, Pilar Del Castillo Vera, in “compromise amendments”.
Groups such as the Public Service Media (PSM), European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) oppose current provisions that allow internet service providers (ISPs) to provide ‘specialised’ services running on different bandwidths in parallel to the open internet.
While they accept the existence of these services, it must not be to the detriment of the internet and must be strictly regulated, they said. ISPs must also be “transparent, non-discriminatory [and] proportionate” in their management of data, the EBU said.
Lobby group La Quadrature du Net raised particular concern about amendments that will allow telecom operators to alter the quality of service for different traffic, as well as allowing delivery of ‘specialised services’.
From infojustice.org: “[Australian Digital Alliance, Link (CC-BY)] It has been a big week for Australian Copyright. On Thursday the Attorney-General, the Hon George Brandis QC, tabled the long-anticipated final report from the Australian Law Reform Commission’s (ALRC) Copyright and the Digital Economy inquiry. This inquiry was charged with determining if copyright exceptions and limitations were working in the digital age. The conclusion was that reform was needed.
The ALRC recommended:
- Replacing most specific copyright exceptions with a broad, flexible ‘fair use’ exception
- Retaining and simplifying some specific exceptions, such as preservation copying and document supply for libraries and archives, and exceptions for some government and judicial uses.
- Reforming the statutory licences for government and education
- Limiting remedies for use of orphan works where a reasonable diligent search has been carried out prior to use
- Preserving the library exceptions (and the fall-back recommendation of extended fair dealing) from contracting out.
- Recommendations about broadcasting for the government to consider when setting media and communications policy
On Friday the Attorney-General delivered a crucial speech at the Australian Digital Alliance Forum, which sets out the Government’s priorities and approaches to copyright.
The full text of the Attorney-General’s speech can be found here.”
The World Health Organization and International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent have received approval of the Swiss Federal Council to receive millions of Swiss francs in loans for the purpose of planning new buildings in Geneva.
According to a Swiss government release today, WHO will receive CHF 14 million to plan the construction of a new extension for its Geneva headquarters, and the IFRC will receive CHF 5 million to plan the demolition and rebuilding of its Geneva headquarters.
The Federal Council will now submit a request to Parliament for the release of the funds as part of the supplement to the 2014 budget. The loans are interest-free.
Building work on the WHO extension building is expected to begin in early 2017, subject to parliamentary approval, the release said.
Another WHO loan of CHF 140 million toward the total cost of the new buildings is expected at a later date. WHO will complete the new extension building and then renovate its existing main building. The organisation will bear the costs of this renovation, the Swiss said. The new extension building will provide the WHO with 1,100 new offices. It is not clear how this relates to WHO’s recent budget problems or staffing cuts.
For the IFRC, total cost of the project, including rental of temporary space, is estimated at CHF 50 million, including the CHF 5 million for planning. Construction work on the new extended building is scheduled to begin in mid-2016 and to be completed in 2019 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the IFRC, the release said.
“It has been known for some time that the WHO and IFRC buildings are in urgent need of renovation and no longer meet the organisations’ space and energy requirements,” the Council release said. “Furthermore, in view of growing international competition, the repair and maintenance of the real estate infrastructure of international Geneva is particularly important. As set out in the Foreign policy strategy 2012-2015 of the Confederation, the long-term promotion of ‘international Geneva’ and the continual improvement of the framework conditions for international organisations form a cornerstone of Switzerland’s commitment.”
Research and development into neglected diseases – those predominately affecting poorer populations and for which there is little commercial incentive – is undergoing “remarkable advances and rude set-backs,” says Bernard Pécoul, executive director of the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi). Now, governments need to show stronger leadership in bringing about long-term solutions, he said.
Pécoul expressed his views in a piece published by DNDi this month, entitled, “Time for a Reality Check for Neglected Diseases.”
The World Health Organization has been working for years to address the neglected disease market failure but so far has only been able to come up with a few “R&D demonstration projects,” of which DNDi is a beneficiary, and a plan for a Global Health R&D Observatory, which will collect data (IPW, WHO, 25 January 2014).
But, Pécoul said, “These steps, taken alone, certainly do not respond to the magnitude of the problem of ensuring innovation and access to health technologies for millions of people living outside the lucrative market.” He noted that many have sought a global instrument to address the problem, but he advocated working constructively with what has been agreed. The proposal for an R&D instrument was pulled from the table due to developed country opposition (IPW, WHO, 29 November 2012).
DNDi has been working since its inception to bring innovative ways to deliver new therapies to populations in need, he said. But, he added, “I cannot emphasize enough that these are ad hoc fixes to the systemic problems in this field. Public leadership is needed to set up the favourable environment required to support all the actors involved in control, prevention, and elimination of certain diseases.”
He mentioned the recent announcement by pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to discontinue work on neglected diseases, and South Africa’s effort to reform its IP policy, which recently came under pressure from foreign companies (IPW, Developing Country Policy, 22 January 2014).
CPhI’s 3rd Annual Pharma IPR 2014 conference to take place from 26-28 February, 2014 in Mumbai, India will have techno-legal experts from over 10+ regions speaking on the recent case studies on global Pharma and Biopharma patent laws.
Among them, Jeffery Alan Hovden, Partner, Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi LLP from US will be speaking on critical developments in US pharma patent law in the year 2013 which have affected pharma and biopharma industry. He will also share best strategies on how Indian generic-drug and biologics enterprises need to go forward with their US-related projects.
Some of the critical concerns he is planning to address include:
- Which pharmaceutical and diagnostic compounds and processes can even obtain a US patent?
- Whether the new, cheap and fast patent-challenge procedures are right for Indian companies in the life-sciences area?
- How to avoid paying the attorney fees for the other side in US litigation and indeed, how an Indian company might turn the tables and have the other side pay the company’s attorney fees?
You can view his insights on “US Patent Law in 2013: Winds of Change” by clicking here.
To optimise interactions with the audience, he and other global techno-legal experts would also be available in query handling sessions as well as one-on-one meetings, to discuss your concerns related to the US patent system. Click here to go through the detailed programme agenda.
You can read more about the conference speakers here.
To be a part of this exclusive event, please contact the organisers at +91 (22) 6172 7001 / email@example.com, or register online and take advantage of the special offers for you as you are our subscribers.
P.S. You may find one of his earlier presentations on “From Small to Big: Some useful points in the coming shift from customary drugs to biologics” interesting – View the presentation here.
A European Patent Office (EPO) Boards of Appeal this week handed down a verdict in the area of stem cell patenting that could provide further guidance on what is patentable under the European Patent Convention (EPC) when it comes to biotechnology.
On 4 February, one of the Technical Boards of the EPO specialising in biotechnology cases published case law in a stem cell case that “confirms the approach taken by the EPO’s patent examiners regarding the patentability in human embryonic stem cells,” EPO spokesman Rainer Osterwalder told Intellectual Property Watch.
In this case, the Examining Division of the EPO rejected an appeal by Technion Research and Development Foundation, Ltd., based in Haifa, Israel, which attempted to patent an “invention” of human foreskin cells suitable for culturing stem cells.
The board said in its decision: “Inventions which make use of publicly available human embryonic stem cell lines which were initially derived by a process resulting in the destruction of the human embryos are excluded from the patentability” under the EPC.
Osterwalder pointed out that the ruling also states that “although judgments of the European Court of Justice are not legally binding on the EPO or on it boards of appeal, they should be considered as being persuasive.” In 2011, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that no patents may be issued on stem cell research if human embryos have been destroyed in the process.
The Board observed that its decision in the case “is in line with decision C-34/10 of the ECJ” (point 44).