Industry’s Take On WIPO Development Talks: An Interview With The Director General Of CropLife24/02/2006 by Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a 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 and its Global Health Policy News are non-profit independent news services and depend on subscriptions. To access all of our content, please subscribe now. You may also offer additional support with your subscription, or donate.On 22 February the biotechnology and crop industry association CropLife International hosted a side event as well as an evening reception to the ongoing discussions of a development agenda at World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Intellectual Property Watch talked with CropLife Director General Christian Verschueren about what the industry thinks of the development agenda negotiations.Verschueren first explained why Brussels-based CropLife was holding this event. “Intellectual property is becoming a major debate and it has moved away from being a technical to a fundamental, political debate,” he said.Verschueren added that this is not only true for the crop and biotech industry but also for the pharmaceutical, music and software industries. “The entire IP concept is under attack,” he said.This is particularly the case from a developing country angle, he said, with a perception of the small consumer versus the greedy multinational companies. The industry is being put into a defensive corner and not being understood and the need for IP is no longer taken for granted, Verschueren said.There was thus a double purpose to the side event. Half of those in attendance were CropLife’s “own audience” representing industry and member companies, and the event was meant to make sure they understood the variety of perspectives that fuel the intellectual property discussion, Verschueren said.Secondly, there are other industries that are affected. The CropLife members constitute one of three or four innovative industries that invest eight to 15 percent in research and development, Verschueren said, adding that because of this these industries need legitimate and predictable legal frameworks for intellectual property. They need to know the rules and have a certainty that the rules are implemented, he said.There are three areas of particular concern to the CropLife members in terms of intellectual property: data protection, plant variety and counterfeiting, he said.Data protection refers to safeguarding the research conducted by companies on issues such as environmental safety, and it constantly has to be updated, he said.Plant variety particularly refers to biotechnology and the mixing of one plant with another to form a third variant. Industry is concerned about what happens to the patent on a plant when it is used in the “mix.” For instance, plants may be patented for 20 years, but a new plant variety may be copied after only two years, Verschueren said.He gave a comparable example that if an engine has patent protection for 20 years, that protection would be in question simply because it is used in a new car. Verschueren said that plant varieties do not enjoy the same protection as their component plants except in the United States.Counterfeiting is particularly a concern in Latin America and China as well as in Europe, he said.Also high on the industry’s agenda are issues related to the Convention on Biological Diversity and a request from some countries to require disclosure of the country of origin of materials in patent applications, he said.Commenting on the development agenda talks at WIPO this week, Verschueren said that WIPO needs to keep its mandate of promoting intellectual property rights and focus on capacity building in the countries. Although he understood some of the development arguments he also believed some people were using the initiative to try to weaken WIPO.Verschueren emphasised that WIPO’s mandate is to promote intellectual property, harmonise intellectual property legislation and help develop tools for enforcement.“Intellectual property is an essential pillar of development,” he said, adding that an intellectual property framework encourages investment which is good for countries’ economies. He said that India, for example, adopted a new patent law in 2005 and it would be “a pity” if that standard were lowered.Verschueren said the industry is not expecting developing countries to leap 20 years ahead at once in their patent systems but they should be aiming for the goal of intellectual property rights protection. Industry recognises that the developing countries have to go slower and need more time to catch up, he said, “but we do not accept that they go the other direction.”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"Industry’s Take On WIPO Development Talks: An Interview With The Director General Of CropLife" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.