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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.


  • WTO TRIPS Amendment

    On 23 January 2017, the WTO announced that an amendment to the TRIPS Agreement entered into force providing developing countries with a new legal pathway to obtain affordable medicines. The amendment (the new TRIPS Agreement Article 31bis) represents a negotiated solution to Paragraph 6 of the 2001 Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health. It allows WTO members to produce generic medicines under compulsory licence for export to countries that lack adequate domestic manufacturing capacity. A number of WTO members and other stakeholders welcomed the amendment, IP Watch reported. The WTO published video statements with key people involved in the Paragraph 6 negotiations sharing their thoughts on the new amendment. The EU’s Ambassador to the WTO, Marc Vanheukelen, noted that this development is important not only for improving access to medicines, but also for demonstrating that “the WTO is capable of responding in an adequate way to essential needs beyond trade policy”.

  • New Research: IP and Global Development

    In this article, Prof. Peter K. Yu reviews several pro-development initiatives relating to IP law and policy that have been implemented in the past five decades. The author first investigates initiatives of the Intellectual Property Conference of Stockholm, which was held in 1967 to update the Berne and Paris Conventions. He then examines more recent efforts to ensure IP systems support achievement of the SDGs, presenting insights drawn from the development of the Declaration on the Right to Development (UNDRD). He highlights that very little academic or policy literature discussed how the right to development or the UNDRD should, or could, be applied in the IP context. He believes that this right could be leveraged to better address issues such as access to essential medicines. Analyzing these diverse developments, Prof. Yu concludes by offering four general observations that aim to advance debates on intellectual property and global development. Among other things, he supports a holistic approach in the debates on intellectual property and global development in order to formulate more complete, better perspectives. Prof. Yu also underscores the context-sensitive nature of development. He notes that "one size fits all" approach – whether for IP, trade, or investment standards – does not work, and he urges to carefully consider the needs, interests, conditions, and priorities of developing countries.

  • Brazil’s New Biodiversity Law

    Brazil’s new biodiversity law, which aims at simplifying the process for accessing the country's genetic resources and ensuring environmental sustainability, may facilitate innovation in the areas of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and chemistry, IAM reports. Under the new regulation, researchers can request access to genetic resources through an electronic registration system, eliminating the former lengthy requirements to receive government consent from the Genetic Heritage Governing Council (CGen). The law also establishes a National Fund for Benefit Sharing which will govern the sharing of benefits resulting from access to the country's genetic heritage and associated traditional knowledge. In some cases, the benefit-sharing obligation will not apply; for example, the economic exploitation of a finished product or reproductive material developed by micro and small enterprises, and individual micro entrepreneurs, will be exempt from the requirement.

  • New Study on Software-Enabled Products

    The U.S. Copyright Office published a study reviewing how copyright law applies to software-enabled consumer products and how it enables creative expression and innovation in the software industry. Highlighting the ubiquity of software, the report addresses various IP-related policy issues such as licensing, resale, repair and tinkering, security research, interoperability, and competition. The U.S. Copyright Office concludes that the current law effectively serves the needs of both copyright owners and users of software embedded in everyday products, thus it did not recommend any legislative changes.

  • IP Under President Trump

    A blog post on Managing Intellectual Property tries to analyze what President Trump will mean for intellectual property in the United States, factoring in the state of IP protection in China, the President-elect's stated opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and the appointment of a new USPTO director. The author notes the minimal effort made by the transition team to clarify the Trump administration’s IP agenda, and concludes that thus it remains to be seen whether his presidency will mean a fresh approach to IP.

  • New Guidelines for Software Patents in China

    The Chinese Patent Office (SIPO) published new draft guidelines for patent examination which include important changes to the standards for software-enabled inventions, IAM reports. According to the USPTO’s senior counsel for China, Mark Cohen, a section of the Patent Examination Guidelines asking applicants to describe “which parts of the computer programme are to be performed and how to perform them” has been amended to add that “the components may not only include hardware, but may also include programmes”. These new rules appear to loosen the standards for obtaining patents on software-enabled inventions, he explained. Applicants seeking protection for computer programmes who have had difficulties in obtaining protection in the US and some other markets are expected to welcome such amendments.

  • Harnessing the Industrial Internet for SDGs

    In their article, Thaddeus Burns, GE’s senior IP and trade counsel, and Sebastian Lohse, independent consultant, explain how the Industrial Internet can contribute to closing the SDG achievement gaps in a range or areas such as healthcare, water, agriculture, natural resource management, energy, and infrastructure. The authors note that the Industrial Internet solutions can, for instance, improve clean water delivery and sanitation, of which 1–2 billion people worldwide are deprived. They cite the example of a low-cost reverse osmosis technology developed by an Indian company Sarvajal which utilizes a combination of sensors, cellular connectivity, and solar power to provide for clean water in rural areas. Finally, the authors call for unrestricted flow of information across national borders forms to ensure the effective use and worldwide adoption of the Industrial Internet, allowing it to unfold its enormous potential for sustainable development on a global scale. To this end, they suggest a variety of approaches that can be taken by policymakers, including the developement of a plurilateral digital trade agreement at WTO.

  • UNSG on HLP Report on Access to Medicines

    UN Secretary-General (UNSG) Ban Ki-moon issued a statement on the report of the High-level Panel (HLP) on Access to Medicines, in which he welcomed its findings, including the individual commentaries. He encouraged all stakeholders to review the report and its recommendations, taking into account existing international agreements and publications on this topic. Finally, UNSG called on stakeholders to map a way forward to ensure access to medicines and health technologies for all who need them, wherever they are.

  • Best European Cities and Policies for Digital Startups

    Nesta launched the 2016 European Digital City Index (EDCi), a ranking measuring how well different cities across Europe support digital entrepreneurs. For startups and scaleups, it reveals information about the strengths and weaknesses of local ecosystems, allowing them to plan accordingly. For policymakers, the EDCi provides a tool to benchmark cities and decide where they may need to devote more resources. The Index is accompanied by the the Digital Entrepreneurship Idea Bank, a guide for local policymakers and influencers, aimed to help them create better conditions for digital entrepreneurship at the regional or city level. It draws together examples of policies and initiatives that best support startups, especially digital startups, in an effort to provide inspiration and options to European policymakers.

  • Graduate Institute Seminar: Solving Grand Challenges

    On November 11, 2017, the Graduate Institute in Geneva hosted a group of experts to review policy actions to address Grand Challenges including but not limited to climate change. The meeting was jointly by the Centre for International Environmental Studies at the Graduate Institute and the Green Growth Knowledge Platform, in partnership with EPFL, ETH Zurich, and the London School of Economics. The group had met the day prior to brainstorm about policies ranging from R&D subsidies to government procurement, from tax credits to intellectual property. At the November 11 meeting, they shared their initial findings and engaged in discussion with members of the Geneva policy community. With regard to intellectual property, the experts noted the facilitating role of patents for knowledge diffusion, while cautioning that IP rights cannot be relied upon, on their own, to drive innovation and technology diffusion. They also cited evidence indicating that IPRs do not slow green technology diffusion. A report based on the experts' work and the public meeting will be published shortly under the auspices of the Graduate Institute's Centre for Environmental Studies. 

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