Author: Ahmed Abdel Latif

WIPO African Ministerial Should Embrace a Pro-Competitive and Pro-Development IP Vision

[Ahmed Abdel-Latif, Dick Kawooya, and Chidi Oguamanam, Bridges Africa, Link]  Summary: An African ministerial meeting, organised by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the Japan Patent Office (JPO), to be held in Senegal next November 3-5 should embrace a balanced and development-oriented approach to intellectual property. Such an approach ought to take into account the needs, priorities and socio-economic circumstances of African countries as well as the most recent empirical evidence on the dynamics of intellectual property and innovation on the continent. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has recently announced it is organising with the Japan Patent Office (JPO) an African ministerial conference on intellectual property (IP), in Senegal, November 3-5, in cooperation with the African Union (AU) and the Government of Senegal. The ministerial conference on ‘IP for an Emerging Africa” aims to “explore the opportunities as well as the challenges facing Africa in building a vibrant innovation system and in effectively using the IP system,” according to meeting’s provisional programme. A focus on an expansive use of IP A cursory look at the meeting’s provisional programme reveals a focus on strong IP protection and an expansive use of IP in the orthodox sense. Under the cluster on science, technology and innovation, most sessions focus on the ‘centrality and contribution of IP for innovation, competitiveness wealth creation.’ Under the cluster on copyright and creativity, sessions focus...

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September 18-19: The WIPO Development Agenda+10 and Beyond

Event hosted by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development The global innovation and intellectual property landscape is witnessing rapid and far reaching changes. This dialogue is the first in a series of multi-stakeholder dialogues aimed reflecting on these changes and their possible implications for international cooperation. Convened by ICTSD, the dialogue will examine the implementation of the 2007 WIPO Development Agenda recommendations, a decade after the original Development Agenda proposal launched. In this context, the dialogue will look at the collective achievements and future challenges toward the establishment of a balanced and development–oriented intellectual property system, which effectively promotes innovation while supporting public policy objectives. Click here for registration on the ICTSD...

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Egypt & Tunisia’s New Constitutions Recognize Knowledge Economy & Intellectual Property Rights

Last January, Egypt and Tunisia enacted new constitutions in the context of the political changes they have been witnessing since the 2011 revolutions that overthrew the Mubarak and Ben Ali regimes. While most public attention has focused on how these constitutions have addressed hotly debated issues such as the structure of government, the role of religion and fundamental freedoms, there has been relatively less attention to how they have dealt with economic and social issues. In this regard, it is noteworthy that the two constitutions contain clauses which give high priority to building a knowledge economy and which provide for the protection of intellectual property rights (IPRs), at the constitutional level, for the first time in the history of these countries. The new Egyptian constitution was put to a referendum on 14-15 January 2014 and approved by a large majority of Egyptians who took part in the vote. It replaces the controversial 2012 constitution enacted under former President Morsi as well as the 1971 constitution. The new Tunisian constitution was adopted by an overwhelming majority of the country’s Constituent Assembly on 26 January 2014 and replaces the 1959 constitution. The importance of the knowledge economy recognized The Egyptian and Tunisian constitutions include clauses which recognize the importance of building a knowledge economy and emphasize the need to support scientific research, innovation and creativity. The Egyptian constitution stipulates that the...

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Cross Regional Statement by Egypt at the Human Rights Council: Towards a Human Rights Approach to Intellectual Property

The cross regional statement below (Towards a Human Rights Approach to Intellectual Property) was delivered today – 14th March 2014 – by Egypt, on behalf of 90 countries, at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. It states that: “International relevant organizations in the field of intellectual property should take fully into account the existing State obligations under international human rights instruments in conducting their activities, and to perform regular human rights impact assessments of intellectual property systems, including on access to medicines and intellectual property.” The Human Rights Council Item 3:General Debate Statement by Ambassador Dr. Walid M. Abdelnasser Permanent Representative of Egypt to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva Mr. President, I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of a group of countries from several different regional geographical and political groups, endorsed by the African, Arab and OIC groups and members of other groupings, totaling 90 countries. Intellectual property regimes should contribute to the promotion of technological innovation and to the transfer and dissemination of technology, to the mutual advantage of producers and users of technological knowledge and in a manner conducive to social and economic welfare, and to a balance of rights and obligations. Intellectual property regimes have been established on the fundamental trade-off that Intellectual Property Rights are a special privilege given to right-holders for the economic exploitation of...

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To What Extent Can Global IP Rules Be Responsive To Public Interest Demands? The Case Of The Treaty For The Visually Impaired

[Ahmed Abdel Latif and Pedro Roffe, ICTSD; IP-Watch (CC-BY-NC-ND)] To what extent can global intellectual property rules address in an effective manner the needs of the most vulnerable members of society? This is the key question facing member states of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) as they prepare to meet next week for a diplomatic conference, in Marrakesh, that might result in the adoption of a treaty to facilitate access to copyrighted works by visually impaired persons and persons with print disabilities. The Potential of a Win-Win Outcome The treaty in question offers the possibility of a win-win outcome for all countries and stakeholders involved. It would signal, among others, the continued relevance of multilateralism. For WIPO, it would be an important achievement after the adoption of the Beijing treaty on audio-visual performances last year. It would also show that member countries can set aside their usual differences and address in earnest public interest problems of a recognized humanitarian nature. The Risks Posed by Unreasonable Demands As the diplomatic conference unfolds the prospect for such a win/win scenario seems, however, compromised. Powerful lobbies and special interests are hardening their stances on some of the key provisions of the future instrument regarding issues like technological protection measures, commercial availability, the three step test, and cross-border exchanges of accessible format copies. If heeded, such demands could considerably weaken the effectiveness of the...

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The Novartis Decision: A Tale Of Developing Countries, IP, And The Role Of The Judiciary

[Cross posted from Inside Views: IP-Watch, (CC-BY-NC-ND)]Much – if not everything – has been said about the health innovation and access to medicines impact of the recent decision of the Indian Supreme Court (SC) in the Novartis case. But there are broader implications. The ruling is also a revealing tale about the changing role of developing countries in the global intellectual property landscape and the growing influence of the judiciary in these countries in the implementation of international intellectual property rules. The Changing Role of Developing Countries in the Global IP Landscape The Novartis judgment marks the first time that a decision by a judicial authority from a developing country in the area of intellectual property has been so closely scrutinised and so extensively commented upon internationally. The global media coverage it received is unprecedented. The decision’s global reach has also been widely highlighted. Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz and scholar Arjun Jayadev called it a “localized effort at rebalancing the global intellectual-property regime.”1 Others, such as Indian economic journalist Swaminathan Aiyar, have invited the West to learn from India’s much tougher patenting system where patents should be given “sparingly only for genuine innovations where the public benefit clearly exceeds the monopoly cost.”2 Arvind Subramanian, Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, pointed out that “other developing countries, (…) could be emboldened by the Indian example.”3 The...

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Petition: A new course for The Pan African Intellectual Property Organization is urgently needed

In 2006 an Extraordinary Conference of the African Ministers of Council on Science and Technology meeting in Cairo mooted the idea of establishing a Pan-African Intellectual Property Organization (PAIPO). Since then, nothing much has been publicly discussed about the nature and scope of this organization until the ‘final’ draft for PAIPO statute surfaced recently for adoption by the 5th African Union Ministerial Conference on Science & Technology (AMCOST V) meeting Nov 12 – 16 2012 in Congo (Brazzaville). The draft statute as it currently stands grants PAIPO significant powers in regulating IP in Africa. However, it also advances a narrow view of IP as an “end in itself” which does not take on board many of the critical public policy objectives in the areas of public health and access to knowledge that African countries have played a key role in pushing forward at the international level. A new petition by Dick Kawooya calls upon AMCOST V to delay the establishment of PAIPO in order to allow for wider consultations on the nature and scope of this organization. Most important, the petition calls for  recalibrating PAIPO’s objectives and mandate so they are in line with Africa’s development needs and priorities. Click here to view and sign the...

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