Issues

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Policy-makers are faced with the task of translating a wealth of information about innovation, trade, global supply chains, trends in technology, and other factors into laws and regulations. Below we provide business perspectives on what governments can do to support entrepreneurship, attract foreign technology partners, facilitate technology deployment and the diffusion of know-how, and reinforce domestic innovative capacity.


  • China's Role in Global Health and Development

    This article by Steve Davis, the CEO of PATH, published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, considers China's role in global development and particularly the country's role in improving global health outcomes including through innovation. Drawing attention to PATH's positive experience working with Chinese partners to speed deployment of a vaccine for Japanese encephalitis, he argues that engagement with Chinese companies, scientists, and ministries can offer vitally important opportunities to make a difference in the health of people not only in China, but around the world. In order to leverage such potental opportunities to improve health outcomes, he suggests that global health leaders: move beyond overly simplistic narratives that are based on false or dated notions about China’s role in the world; recognize that China’s approach to global health and development is fundamentally different from that of other global actors such as the United States and Europe; identify areas where interests in global health and innovation are aligned, for instance the shared priority of developing new approaches to address NCDs; emphasize the trend in China towards better quality, to which the government is committed; and invite China to the table each time global leaders gather to discuss global health. 

  • New Criticism of US Federal "Open Access" Mandates

    The George Mason Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property (CPIP) has published a new policy brief called "Open Access Mandates and the Seductively False Promise of Free", by Bhamati Viswanathan and Adam Mossoff. The authors note that federal agencies in the United States are increasingly mandating or proposing free public access for copyrighted works that report on federally-funded research ("open access mandates"), thus compelling scholars and reseachers to make their writings freely available to the world. They are critical of open access mandates and the justifications underlying them. Because federal agencies, such as the Department of Education and National Institutes of Health, disburse billions annually in research grants, the authors point out that open access mandates affect millions of published articles and other materials including testing materials and even software source code. 

  • Debunking Key Myths about IP

     

    In this paper, Professor Jonathan Barnett of USC critiques key arguments underpinning recent legislative and other initiatives aimed at weakening patent rights in the United States. The arguments he addresses are: (1) IP rights raise entry barriers and increase costs to users, (2) innovation often occurs without any IP rights, and (3) IP rights work predominantly in favor of large firms. Using theoretical argument and empirical evidence, Professor Barnett explains why each of these propositions is unlikely to be true in a significant set of commercially relevant circumstances. In contrast, he argues that IP rights can reduce entry barriers and users’ costs relative to the organizational and transactional structures that markets would adopt without those rights. He notes the importance, in particular, of effective IP rights for unintegrated, R&D-intensive (and, often, smaller) firms that would have difficulty funding the innovation and commercialization process without IP rights. 

     

  • Myth of the Trade Secret Troll

    With enactment of the Defend Trade Secrets Act in 2016, the United States modernized its trade secrets protection regime. Notably, the DTSA created a private civil cause of action for trade secrets misappropriation at the federal level. In the run-up to passage of the DTSA, Professors David S. Levine and Sharon K. Sandeen wrote about concerns that the DTSA would give rise to “trade secret trolls” whose activities could undermine the structures of trade secrets laws and cause problems and costs for innovators. James Pooley, among other commentators, pushed back on this notion. Mr Pooley published an article asserting there was absolutely no risk of unleashing “trade secret trolls”, at the same time rebutting other arguments tabled by a group of academics opposing the DTSA (related to seizure provisions, injunctive relief, and employee mobility). As the DTSA is now in place, in the US context these articles have been overtaken by events; nonetheless the arguments therein may be relevant to future trade secrets initiatives elsewhere in the world and thus may be interesting to revisit.  

  • 4iP Council Infographic on Patent Quality in Europe

    The 4iP Council has just published this infographic about patent quality in Europe based on data from Germany. On behalf of leading innovators in Europe, the 4iP Council works with academics, policy makers, and regulators to facilitate a deeper understanding of the invention process, technology investment decision-making, and the enabling role of IP rights in innovation. Several 2017 articles regarding patent quality in Europe are posted on the website of the 4iP Council, which has a robust research IPR-related agenda in the pipeline. 

  • Letter to WIPO from 55 pro-IP NGOs

    Fifty-five civil society groups have sent a letter to WIPO to mark World IP Day, according to a press release by the Property Rights Alliance. The letter notes that World IP Day provides an opportunity to celebrate innovation and reinvention, and to consider how best to ensure the tools that underpin them can remain available globally. The groups signing the letter urge WIPO to: review how IP systems can enhance economic development and access to new products; work with countries to enhance their IP regimes; and support IPRs as property rights that enhance human growth and development.

     
  • Zambia: Lasting Impact of CDIP Project

    This April 2017 WIPO magazine article provides insights from the ground about the positive outcome of a 2011 - 2013 WIPO CDIP project carried out in Zambia (as well as in Bangladesh and Nepal). The WIPO membership was provided an evaluation of this CDIP project on capacity building to promote the use of appropriate technology solutions in LDCs after Phase I finished in 2013. In Zambia, water management was identified as one of the focal areas for the project, which focused on building Zambian capacity to use patent data to identify promising technology solutions that could meet local needs. As described in the article, villagers in Zambia were better able to capture and store rain water as a result of the project.  

  • Celebrating World IP Day (April 26)

    WIPO has a dedicated Facebook page for World IP Day, the theme of which this year is "Innovation improving lives". To mark the day, WIPO will host an exhibit of innovators in the atrium of the new building. For additional inspiration about how innovation can change and improve lives in Switzerland, where WIPO is located, take a look at the top 100 Swiss startups from 2016 (the 2017 winners will be selected in Septemer 2017). The list includes companies like Mindmaze, which works with immersive virtual reality, brain imaging and 3D technology to advance rehabilitation, and Gamaya, which is commercializing a solution to help agricultural producers to optimize their use of inputs. 

  • "Patent Tigers": Israel, South Korea, Taiwan

    In "Patent Tigers: The New Geography of Global Innovation", Professor Jonathan Barnett of the USC Gould School of Law describes how the US patent system has supported innovation and rapid economic advancement in Israel, South Korea, and Taiwan. Drawing on USPTO data covering all utility patents issued to US and foreign inventors (a total of 6,122,217 patents issued to inventors resident in 188 countries and territories) between 1965 and 2015, along with additional data sources, he determines that these countries are the most intensive foreign users of the US patent system on a per capita as well as per GDP basis. Professor Barnett argues that patents can promote entry into technology markets by economies that are rich in intellectual and human capital but with small domestic markets in which to extract returns on that capital. For those countries, the patent system (or at least the US patent system) can be a particularly important contributor to development.

  • Minister Muñoz of Chile on the Value of Open Trade

    In this op-ed piece in the New York Times, Heraldo Muñoz, the Foreign Minister of Chile, confirms Chile's commitment to trade opening following a meeting of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Parties, together with South Korea, China, and Colombia, in Viña del Mar, Chile. He credits trade with helping to reduce poverty and stimulate economic growth in Chile in recent decades. Despite recent political setbacks and growing populism and protectionism around the world, Minister Muñoz says the countries of the "Pacific Alliance" (Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Peru) will nonetheless seek to advance regional trade integration and a "pluralistic apporach to trade" along the lines of what was set forth in the TPP. "The 15 Pacific Rim nations in attendance in Chile ... signaled a strong and stable consensus across the Asia Pacific region that open economies, free trade and regional integration represent the way forward for achieving inclusive and progressive development".

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