US Industry Group Seeks To Shift Geneva IP Debate15/11/2005 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch 1 CommentShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)IP-Watch is a non-profit independent news service and depends on subscriptions. To access all of our content, please subscribe now. You may also offer additional support with your subscription, or donate.Citing a need to change the debate on intellectual property issues, another US trade association has added Geneva to its list of lobbying stops.The Association for Competitive Technology (ACT) has expanded its presence in Europe in recent years mainly at the European Union level in Brussels. But now the group is turning its attention to Geneva.ACT President Jonathan Zuck told reporters invited by the US mission in Geneva on 14 November that ACT has set up a Brussels office and that he now splits his time between the United States and Europe.But his trip to Geneva is a new direction, and is an opportunity to talk with officials at the UN World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) to better understand what they are doing and to assert industry’s views. “We’re in town talking about IP,” he said.“The IP system as a whole has lost its presumption,” he said. It was historically regarded as good, but “industry has been asleep at the public policy wheel and let that debate be turned on its head. IP is playing defense now.”The policy debate needs to be reframed to be about innovation, said Zuck, whose group represents Microsoft and eBay among 3,000 other large and small members. He said industry would greatly benefit from harmonisation of international patent systems, and that governments should cooperate on prior art searches and in sharing information about their systems, which would lead to greater “accessibility and predictability.”But harmonisation has been difficult even among the big three users of the global patent system – the United States, European Union and Japan. Zuck said he is too new to Geneva to comment on the proper role of WIPO in global harmonisation, but that on the local scale in the United States, ACT has been quite active. He supports the United States changing its patent law to more closely resemble the rest of the world, especially by replacing its first-to-invent policy with the more common first-to-file approach.“I think the benefits of first-to-invent have proven to be illusory,” he said. “The US needs to change that. It’s out of sync with the world.” Zuck added that there is “still a prospect” for legislation making some of those changes to move in the US Congress “soon.”A software developer with a background in international public policy, Zuck said IP is possibly the top issue for his group now, which lobbied unsuccessfully for a high-profile EU software patenting measure last summer. It now favours administrative reform rather than legal reform through changes to the European Community patent, but said lobbyists are moving carefully on resuming the software patent fight after “having their fingers burned” in last summer’s resounding defeat.ACT also focuses on small and medium-sized firms, Internet governance and other issues. It was founded in 1998 on a set of principles such as that less regulation is better, or in the case of Europe, better regulation is better, Zuck said. The group also stresses that policies can have unintended consequences. He said he tends to be critical of the United Nations.On regulating technology, Zuck said legislators should focus on conduct not on technology. For instance, with spyware, monitoring technology embedded on personal computers unbeknownst to the user, he said legislators must consider the reason for the spyware’s presence. Broader stroke legislation would tend to “catch too many dolphins in the net,” he said, a reference to an unnecessarily harmful method of tuna fishing.The principle also applies to considering Google’s effort to make a digital library, he said. The company has said searches of the digital books would only reveal small portions of the texts, allowable under fair use laws. “If returning snippets is against copyright, then what they are doing now is against copyright,” he said. Critics have argued that Google’s digital library is clear copyright infringement.Despite having proprietary software maker Microsoft on board, the group also has Linux (open source software) integrators and runs Linux in the office. “There is not necessarily a disconnect between Linux and IP,” he said. For instance, it plays a role in research, and in the commercial sector can have a “commoditizing role,” he said.Share this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Related"US Industry Group Seeks To Shift Geneva IP Debate" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.