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.


  • The Drug R&D Debate Continues

    In a “Clinical Microbiology and Infection” piece, Jennifer Reid and Manica Balasegaram argue for greater transparency around the costs and risks of medical R&D and call on governments to support complementary, needs-driven R&D models. The authors argue, among other things, that under the current patent-based R&D system people are paying twice for the same medicine: first through public investment in medical R&D, and then again when they buy the product. However, other authors have expressed differing views about how patent systems interact with efforts to commercialise public research outcomes, for instance Sabarni Chatterjee and Mark Rohrbaugh in their 2014 study in Nature Biotechnology, and Michael Rosenblatt of Merck in a 2014 HBR article.

     

  • Fall 2016 IP Seminars in Geneva

    The fall 2016 calendar for the Geneva IP community is starting to fill up, including the following meetings: the WIPO-WTO-WHO Trilateral Symposium on AMR on October 25; a WTO TRIPS Workshop aimed at supporting LDCs to use IPRs November 10 - 11; and a WTO Workshop on Trade and Public Health October 17 - 21.

  • Examining the Patent Gender Gap

    An article by Adrienne LaFrance in the Atlantic Monthly looks at recent research about why so few women hold patents on their inventions. She refers to a paper by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research which indicates that although women quintupled their representation among patent holders since 1977, a pronounced patent gender gap remains. It is dominant in patent-intensive fields such as electrical and mechanical engineering, and in patent-intensive jobs such as product development and design. LaFrance reports that although the patent gender gap is often attributed to a shortage of women in STEM fields, this may not actually be the cause of the gender gap in patenting. She also identifies certain negative consequences of the gender gap in patenting for the success of female entrepreneurs. The article lists a series of recommendations for how to begin closing the gap, including establishing mixed-gender R&D teams and building systems to track women’s progress in patenting.

  • China: IP Management in Academia

    This IAM blog by Jacob Schindler provides insights into IP management by TTOs at Chinese universities, including certain missteps - as well as opportunities for partnering with academics to move research towards the market. 

  • UNHLP on Access to Medicines: Commentary

    This blog by Dr. Barbara Kolm of the Austrian Economics Center critiques the ongoing work of the UN High Level Panel on Access to Medicines, which is slated to release a report this fall. This High Level Panel was established by the Secretary-General in 2015 to analyze and recommend how to remedy incoherence among trade and intellectual property rules, health policies, and human rights. Though it has not yet published its findings or recommendations, the High Level Panel's work program has garnered significant attention. In her blog posting, Dr. Kolm takes the view that the initiative would do better to focus on insufficient healthcare infrastructure and lack of trained medical staff, rather than trade and IP rules. 

  • Call for Comments: South Africa’s IP Consultative Framework

    South Africa’s Intellectual Property (IP) Consultative Framework was approved by Cabinet on July 6 and has now been released for comment. According to the South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), “[t]he IP Consultative Framework aims to facilitate what will be continuous engagement with governmental partners and society at large towards the formulation of South Africa’s IP policy”. Comments can be sent to [email protected] before August 31, 2016.

  • "Union": New Initiative Supporting Global Startups

    A partnership involving Dell, Microsoft, Capital Factory, and 1776 announced the launch of an international startup platform called Union to empower the next billion entrepreneurs by supporting and connecting them, while also removing barriers to innovation regardless of location. Union provides entrepreneurs anywhere in the world with the ability to reach experts, channels, customers, and investors they need in order to take their ideas from seed to scale and to drive job creation in their communities. To provide one example of its activities, Union curates and houses wide-ranging content for startups to use when assessing whether they have merely a concept, or have achieved product-market fit and are ready to scale.

  • Brexit and the Unitary Patent System

    Despite the UK’s Brexit vote, the preparations for the Unitary Patent and the Unified Patent Court (UPC) will go on as planned, according to the UPC Preparatory Committee's and EPO Select Committee's joint statement. According to the statement: "it is too early to assess what the impact of this vote on the Unified Patent Court and the Unitary Patent Protection eventually could be. This will largely depend on political decisions to be taken in the course of the next months. (…)” Some commentators, however, fear that the UK’s vote to depart the EU will likely delay the planned early 2017 start date of the Unitary Patent and the UPC systems. The UK is one of the three countries that must ratify the Agreement on a UPC before the Unitary Patent and the UPC systems can be launched. However, the Agreement did not contemplate the UK, or any member State, leaving the EU before ratification occurred. In a Lexology blog post, Jacob Huh (Baker & Hostetler LLP), noted that member states need to either amend the Agreement, or go forward with the current plan – hoping the UK will ratify the Agreement – and make changes later when the UK is out of the EU.

  • Nobel Laureates’ Letter on GMOs

    More than 100 Nobel laureates have signed a letter urging organizations opposed to modern plant breeding, including Greenpeace, to end their opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The letter asks these organizations to abandon their efforts to block introduction of GMOs, and particularly Golden Rice - a crop that supporters say could reduce Vitamin-A deficiencies causing blindness and death in children in the developing world. The authors state that “scientific and regulatory agencies around the world have repeatedly and consistently found crops and foods improved through biotechnology to be as safe as, if not safer than those derived from any other method of production.” The campaign has a website that includes a running list of the signatories.

  • Report: 5G’s Implications for Policy and Competition

    5G wireless technologies present “a unique opportunity to radically expand the capacity and flexibility of wireless networks, which will have profound implications for broadband competition and productivity growth,” according to a report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF). The study expects that with the right policies in place, 5G will provide significantly increased capacity, allowing for super-high definition streaming of augmented reality; far more numerous and less costly connections, supporting a boom to the Internet of Things (IoT); and highly reliable connections, enabling critical communications and large-scale industrial automation. In order to see 5G networks truly flourish, ITIF suggests that national policymakers should focus on bringing high-band “millimeter wave” spectrum to market, rather than attempting to control the standards-setting process. Additionally, the report urges local policymakers to support the development of 5G networks by streamlining deployment of physical infrastructure.

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