Public Gets A Taste Of WIPO, Policy Debate On IP And Environment07/06/2010 by Catherine Saez, 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 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.Dressed in casual weekend attire with white and blue “WIPO Staff” t-shirts, World Intellectual Property Organization personnel on 5 June gave explanations and guidance on intellectual property rights to the public, while a blimp-shaped balloon advertised the event outside the building. The WIPO lobby was turned into an intellectual property fair with stands displaying the range of WIPO’s services, and a much-appreciated wine tasting.The Geneva public, and those representing the public interest, had the opportunity on World Environment Day to contemplate the tough policy issues surrounding IP and innovation for environmental technologies as WIPO opened its doors for the first time and allowed the public to roam the lobby in an effort at awareness-raising.The public also was invited to a roundtable, organised by the University of Geneva in collaboration with WIPO, on innovation, green and sustainable technologies and the role of IP. An academic, an industry representative and two NGO representatives were speakers at this roundtable chaired by WIPO Director General Francis Gurry.The challenge, Gurry said at the roundtable, is to transform a carbon-dependent economy into a carbon-independent economy. Technology will be key to this transformation, he said.IP is not “green by nature,” said Jacques de Werra, a law professor at the University of Geneva, but “maybe it can be made greener,” as is the case in the United States with measures taken to expedite the process of patents on green innovations.Pedro Roffe, of the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, said IP is important but it should be used in “the right and appropriate dosage,” as less IP is a bad omen for investors, and more IP can kill the innovative process. The climate change challenge calls for rapid technological innovation and appropriate policies should encourage innovation, he said. IP is one of those policies.Developing countries have questioned the role of IP in the technology transfer process in the context of climate change, Roffe said. A system is needed so that the IP system encourages a competitive environment.For Philip Boydell of DuPont, the company which invented Teflon, a trademarked product which is manufactured under a trade secret, technologies have to be protected. In order for DuPont to go on researching new products, it is important to protect innovations, he said. Boydell is director of DuPont’s solar technology R&D center in Meyrin, Switzerland.Patents can have an impact on countries, communities, biodiversity and traditional knowledge, said María Julia Oliva from the Union for Ethical BioTrade. In the context of the Convention for Biological Diversity, IP should support biodiversity, not go against it, she said. Some modifications are needed on the way patents are granted, along with more transparency, she said, citing a recent example of alleged biopiracy.In answer to a question from the public, Boydell said that technology transfer was made difficult by structural problems in developing countries.A member of the audience asked how the IP system could be adapted to answer questions that did not exist 50 years ago. Gurry replied that a dialogue around this question is just beginning. Also, he argued that IP on green technologies cannot be compared to IP on pharmaceuticals, as green technologies are not based on molecules but a complexity of technologies. The analogy between the two issues is “simplistic,” he said. Some public interest representatives have raised concern over limits to access to critical technologies that could come from IP-protected high-priced goods.Roffe said there is a need to revisit IP, with new uses for it like open source approaches, public-private partnerships, or cooperation with universities.There is an economic interest in green innovation, the panellists said. Boydell said that green technologies are “too much of a growth market” to ignore.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)RelatedCatherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com."Public Gets A Taste Of WIPO, Policy Debate On IP And Environment" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.