Innovation policies and ecosystemsback to issues

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.

  • Gates Foundation to Launch New Open Research Platform

    The Gates Foundation has announced plans to launch "Gates Open Research", a platform to make Gates-funded research available quickly and in a format supporting research integrity, reproducibility, and transparency. This open access model will enable immediate publication followed by open, invited peer review, combined with an open data policy. Gates Foundation funding generates around 2,000–2,500 research articles per year. The Foundation already requires grantees to make their research papers and data "open access" immediately upon publication and to allow their unrestricted reuse. The Foundation will not have editorial oversight over papers published on the Gates Open Research platform, which is expected to launch during the third quarter of 2017.

  • WIPO Trade Secrets Overview

    The WIPO website contains a useful primer on trade secrets setting out basic information about the definition of a trade secret, management of undisclosed information, and international instruments that provide for the protection of undisclosed information. The page also contains a link to WIPO Lex which includes information on national laws providing for the protection of undisclosed information. 

  • Jack Ellis on Patent Linkage

    In this recent piece for the Geneva Network, "Patent Linkage - its Promise and Potential", IP and technology analyst Jack Ellis describes how linking regulatory approval for generic medicines to the patent status of the originator product can enhance certainty for generic and research-based companies alike. Ellis notes the existence in many jurisdictions of patent linkage rules, put in place in order to "promote innovation and investment by giving inventors more certainty over their patent rights, while giving generic manufacturers greater clarity over their freedom to operate in the marketplace". He reviews the case study of Taiwan, and identifies three key features of effective early resolution mechanisms based on patent linkage. 

  • The Case for Software Patents

    In this article in WIPO magazine, Ania Jedrusik and Philip Wadsworth consider whether current approaches to patent protection for software are in line with business realities. The authors observe that, while technical functionality has progressively migrated from hardware to software, in many jurisdictions software-related inventions are not eligible for patent protection, or are eligible for more limited protection than inventions in other fields of technology. After reviewing certain national approaches to software patents, they conclude as follows: "The aim, surely, is to create conditions that allow innovators and engineers to dedicate resources to software development to find new ways to help us connect and do business. As digitization gathers pace in all areas of our lives, the time is ripe for the global community to re-examine the current state of play."  

  • High Level SDG Financing Lab on April 18

    In New York on April 18, 2017, the President of the General Assembly will host a High Level SDG Financing Lab, providing an opportunity for civil society organizations and social entrepreneurs to present their ideas as to the best approaches for sustainably financing the SDGs. The discussions will focus on a broad range of themes, including identification of available resources to finance achievement of the SDGs, leveraging public and private sector resources, efforts to solve challenges in relation to water and climate change specifically, and investments in infrastructure and productive resources that could in turn generate jobs and promote economic advancement. The deadline for applying to speak is March 23, and the deadline for applying to attend is April 12. Financial assistance to cover travel costs can be requested by applicants. 

  • Access to Vaccines Index 2017

    The Access to Medicines Foundation has created an Access to Vaccines Index 2017 which establishes a baseline for assessing progress within the industry in expanding vaccination coverage globally. In addition to the "big four" - GSK, Merck & Co, Inc., Pfizer and Sanofi - which togeher represent 80% of global vaccine revenues, the Index analyzes the activities of J&J, Takeda, Daiichi Sankyo, and the Serum Institute of India. The Index compiles data regarding each entitity's engagement in relation to R&D, pricing, registration manufacturing and supply, and other aspects of developing and broadly diffusing life-saving vaccines. 

  • New Center for IP Understanding

    The Center for Intellectual Property Understanding is a recently established non-profit dedicated to increasing awareness of intellectual property rights and their contribution to people’s lives. Marshall Phelps, author of Rembrandts in the Attic and Vice Chairman of the Center, argues that there is a widening gap in IP knowledge and that abuses of IP rights are becoming widely acceptable, a situation that he warns could generate serious negative economic impact. He notes that in the U.S., in 2016 alone, IP-intensive industries supported 45.5 million jobs and contributed $6.6 trillion in value-add, equivalent to 38.2 percent of U.S. GDP. To raise awareness of the positive impact of IP, the Center for Intellectual Property Understanding is already taking action to help various groups like schools, parents, and the media understand and communicate the value of IPRs.

  • Qualcomm’s Laurie Self on the Patent Gender Gap

    In a Managing IP interview, Laurie Self, Vice President and Counsel of Government Affairs at Qualcomm, discusses the patent gender gap and the importance of addressing it. She cites a recent study, funded by Qualcomm, which revealed that although there has been a positive trend in women’s representation among patent holders, at the current rate of progress, women inventors will not reach parity in patenting until 2092. The gender gap is especially large when defining women-held patents as only those whose primary inventor is female. In 1977, just 2% of primary inventors listed on the U.S. patents were women; this share quadrupled in size by 2010, but with only 8% of patents having a woman listed as the primary inventor, women have a considerable way to go before achieving parity with men. Self observes that the same gender gap that exists in entrepreneurship is also present in the patent system. “So, one of the issues we’ve been thinking about is how do you make sure that we maintain a strong, inclusive, patent system that encourages women inventors to seek patent protection because patent protection is one of those factors that are important in whether an inventor or an entrepreneur obtains venture capital funding,” she explained.

  • Enhancing SME Competitiveness in LDCs

    A joint study by the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) discusses the constraints faced by SMEs in 23 least developed countries (LDCs) when engaging in international trade, and reviews how Aid for Trade initiatives are addressing them. SME success is strongly linked to poverty reduction, employment, income distribution, and women’s economic empowerment in developing countries, the report says. Yet, they face serious bottlenecks, including access to finance and technology, availability of skills, business environment, new market entry challenges, defending their interests, and trade costs. The report also identifies region-specific constraints, such as lack of a skilled workforce in Central Africa or limited institutional support in Oceania. Aid for Trade initiatives represent one avenue for SMEs to address competitiveness challenges and benefit from development finance institutions (DFIs), the study notes. It recommends collaboration between the private sector and partner country governments in implementation and long-term solutions to market failures. The report concludes by posing two questions for the trade and development community to consider in future work, related to: scaling up trade support to SMEs without institutions and instruments losing focus and impact; and mainstreaming trade into SME project design, implementation, and reporting.

  • FTC Commissioner Ohlhausen on Patent Rights

    In a paper, due to be published in the Harvard Journal of Law & Technology, FTC Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen highlights the importance of the U.S. patent system to the country’s innovation economy, warning that investment in new technologies could be negatively affected by weakened IP rights. She recognizes that the patent system has flaws and can be subject to abuses. Nevertheless, she argues that there is ample evidence that patents serve a valuable role in promoting innovation across industries and that policymakers and lawyers should act with caution when contemplating changes. Commissioner Ohlhausen argues that some critics’ claim that contemporary patent policy lacks an evidentiary foundation does not hold up upon deeper examination. She concludes her paper by asserting: “The responsible reaction to the various strengths and weaknesses of the contemporary patent system lies in incremental adjustment. Patents should remain a cornerstone of effective innovation policy”.