BRICS Launch Their Own Plan For IP Cooperation; India Defends Itself27/11/2013 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.Developing countries have been under pressure for years to join the global intellectual property system established by developed countries, and they have been doing so gradually. But now the leading emerging economies have taken matters into their own hands and signed an IP cooperation roadmap among themselves that will boost their uptake of IP in a way that is most favourable to them. Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, known as the BRICS countries, have joined forces on a number of fronts in recent years, and this year signed an agreement on IP rights.The agreement, called the BRICS Intellectual Property Offices Cooperation Roadmap, is available here [pdf].The roadmap was agreed in Magaliesburg, South Africa on 16 May 2013, and was signed alongside the World Intellectual Property Organization annual General Assemblies in Geneva in September 2013.The roadmap contains a series of agreed “cooperation streams” including (as in the original, not by priority):● Training of Intellectual Property Office Staff ● IP/Patent processes and procedures including search, classification and translation ● Promotion of public awareness on IP in BRICS countries ● National IP Strategy and IP Strategy for enterprises ● Information services on IP, e.g. exchange of patent documentation, taking account of local legislation ● Collaboration in International Forums as required and subject to consensus ● Examiner exchange programmeThe roadmap recognises that there may be differences in the members’ legislative frameworks, policies, procedures and priorities.ActionsThe roadmap sets out actions as such:1. Training, led by the Brazil IP office, may be offered from one to another, will be based on needs and priorities, and may be free for a cost. A training schedule will be created and implemented.2. Promotion of public awareness on IP in BRICS countries will be led by China’s IP office, and will involve an exchange of information and experience possibly through a seminar or conference.3. An examiner exchange programme will be developed, led by the Russian patent office.4. Information services will be enhanced by an exchange of patent information, and best practices provided by each office, led by China.5. Under IP/Patent processes and procedures, possible areas for cooperation are search, classification, and translation services. A review of filing procedures within the group, improvements in office practices, and increased innovation and commercialisation with the countries will be targeted.6. National IP strategies and strategies for enterprises, led by South Africa, will aim at boosting understanding about how offices are structured and configured. This could include how they work with business, and could involve events.7. Collaboration in international forums as required and subject to consensus, led by India, involves attention to the implications of discussions in other fora and groups of which BRICS members are part, such as at the World Intellectual Property Organization.Taking the Agenda ForwardThe BRICS Summit in Durban in 2012 took a decision on a trade and investment cooperation agreement that emphasised the need to cooperate on IP-related areas, particularly IP registration, Lungile Dukwana, chief strategy executive at the South Africa Companies and IP Commission, told Intellectual Property Watch.“This takes forward the agenda of the BRICS Summit,” said Dukwana. “It commences an era of cooperation between the BRICS IP offices.”The offices are all at different levels, he said. For instance, Brazil is doing patent examinations, which South Africa is not (yet). But Brazil has had its challenges, offering South Africa valuable lessons on things to avoid. And China in 2012 overtook the US Patent and Trademark Office as the office with the highest growth, which “tells you something is happening there,” he said. Russia also is doing things well and can be learned from, he said.South Africa is focussed on education and raising awareness of IP, and capacity-building of staff.“There may be some procedures that others are using,” from which South Africa can learn, said Dukwana. “From a benchmarking level, there’s a lot we can benefit from.”South Africa does not currently have patent examination, but it is planning to incorporate it in a new draft national IP policy expected to be completed next year (IPW, Developing Country Policy, 9 September 2013).Some lobbying and differing views from the relevant government agencies are expected along the way, so, as Dukwana put it, “what you see now may not be what you get in the end.”But, he said, South Africa has a “very strong” constitutional process, so that one interest group cannot overly influence the outcome. The government has hinted at a stakeholder meeting on the draft IP policy to be held as soon as this week, but so far no details appear to be public.BRICS SolidarityThe strength of the BRICS showed itself at the Creating and Leveraging Intellectual Property in Developing Countries conference held in Durban, South Africa from 17-20 November. The South African government organised the meeting with sponsors from northern industry and a strong presence from the United States.At that meeting, South Africa could have come under some pressure from developed countries, especially as it is in the process of establishing a new national IP policy that some see as not sufficiently strong on IP enforcement. But in a sense, South Africa was not facing the developed countries alone. Rather, it was speaking from the strength of the BRICS.The BRICS as a group are “a major player,” which they realise when they go to WIPO, Dukwana said. And BRICS countries may be influential in other groups as well. In stream 7 on cooperation in international fora, it states that they will not impose positions, but “will have a platform for discussing,” he said.WIPO Director General Francis Gurry was present at the signing in Geneva in September, Dukwana said, and Gurry mentioned the power of groupings in driving the WIPO agenda.Stream 6 on coordination of national strategies and plans moves from the premise that all the offices are different from each other but “how can we work together,” Dukwana said.“It’s an issue that the developmental steps we take are at our level,” he said. “It’s not something that is a threat.”BRICS IP Offices Join InConference participants last week were literally joined by the IP offices of Russia, India, China and Brazil, via teleconference on a large screen.Wu Kai, director general of the International Cooperation Department of the State Intellectual Property Office of China (SIPO), said the BRICS “are at a critical stage.” He described numerous IP initiatives in his country.Boris Simonov, director general of the Federal Service for IP of Russia (Rospatent), emphasised the importance of innovation, but asked what it means, for instance, what is the difference from intellectual property. He asked what impact it has in every day practice, and said there are now many determinations of what innovation is, such as open innovation.Simonov proposed an innovation pilot project for the BRICS. He said that innovation happens too fast for the human mind to follow it, and that there may be hundreds of millions of patents, but most inventors only think they are creating new products but may be making a mistake. They don’t understand that others have created before them, he said, so with databases, “we can help those scientists and inventors to create real innovations.”Russia’s Artificial Examiner Russia has created an “artificial examiner” database, only two months old, “but clever enough to call him examiner,” he said. The artificial examiner can understand any language, and in two months time (by a PCT meeting in Israel in February) it will be duplicated in the Cloud so that “everyone can use him,” he said.Denise Gregory, director of cooperation for development and the National Intellectual Property Institute (INPI) of Brazil, was also very positive on the cooperation of the BRICS, and shared a variety of statistics to show progress on innovation in her country.India’s IP office also participated in the videoconference, and went to lengths to stress the country’s positive work on IP.India on DefenceIndia listed numerous acts and updates to its law since 1999, and said that “imbalance of the equilibrium may be detrimental to society.” This is recognised in the WTO TRIPS Agreement, Chaitanya Prasad, controller general of patents, designs and trademarks, told the event.In the “post-WTO regime,” the India Patent Office has only used the compulsory licence option once, he said, and it follows Indian law. India is filing all types of IP rights, for instance, patents have risen from 12,000 to 43,000 in the last decade, designs from 4,000 to 10,000, and trademarks from 100,000 to 200,000.“We have had to modernise the infrastructure tremendously to cope with the increase,” he said, and listed the many improvements. “We have thrown open the office to the entire world. India is trying to boost innovation in a big way,” and it is conscious of the role of business.India and its fellow BRICS countries recognise the “absolute sovereignty” of the national IP offices, he said, and it would be relevant to identify each others’ areas of strengths and weaknesses. The priorities of each BRICS country might be different, but they have strong expectations that discussions in the BRICS forum will proceed in a meaningful manner and will result in growth in sustainable development and vital issues like health, food security and information and communications technology.When asked, Prasad defended India’s approach to IP rights, which northern industry and government have recently attacked. He said that IP rights are a means for balancing the rights of inventors and the interests of society at large, and that Indian IP legislation strives to maintain this balance “in a very delicate manner.”He noted that pharmaceutical patents are granted “in large numbers” in India, one of the largest categories of patents granted. But India has a high standard of patentability, he said, and tries to deter frivolous patents, while at the same time welcoming good innovation.Road to the RoadmapThe BRIC group was formed in 2008, and South Africa joined in 2010, making it BRICS. The BRICS have crossover with other groupings, such as regional groups at WIPO. And China is also a member of the so-called IP5 largest IP offices in the world, along with the United States, European Union, Japan and South Korea.The focus on IP grew from BRICS Summit in Durban in 2012, where the groups’ trade ministers’ met and endorsed a BRICS Trade and Investment Cooperation Agreement, which included a provision for cooperation in IP.BRICS heads of IP offices then met on the sidelines of the 2012 WIPO General Assemblies in Geneva. There, they “agreed to enhance cooperation between the respective BRICS IP offices with a view to enhancing the value of IP and to ensure its contribution to the economic development and growth in the member countries,” according to the roadmap.They agreed to identify focal points, develop a roadmap to be submitted to IP office heads who would meet in South Africa (in May 2013) for an inaugural meeting, and would engage in bilateral meetings as well. The IP office heads in May 2013 agreed, and final signatures of all countries came alongside the 2013 WIPO General Assemblies.According to the roadmap, the BRICS countries have a combined estimated population of more than 3 billion (43 percent of the global population), a combined estimated GDP of nearly US$15 trillion, and an estimated US$4 trillion in foreign reserves.The roadmap contains statistics showing the rapid rise in the BRICS activity in patents, industrial designs, and trademarks, particularly by China in all three.“It is evident from this brief outlook that the BRICS IP Offices are beginning to take their place in the world IP space based on the WIPO data and analysis,” it states. “It is of great importance that the BRICS IP offices begin to review their influence in the world IP space and seek ways to leverage on this advantage for the BRICS IP Offices, as well as the improvement of the role of IP in emerging economies.”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)RelatedWilliam New may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org."BRICS Launch Their Own Plan For IP Cooperation; India Defends Itself" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.