[Parminder Jeet Singh, IP Watch, Link (CC-BY-NC-SA) The World Wide Web today stands at a crossroads, as its standards body, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), considers the demand of big content providers to provide them with the facility to be able to control user devices for ensuring that their content is not copied. This facility is called the Encrypted Media Extension (EME), which enables these companies to put digital rights management (DRM) into the user’s browser, whether the user wants it or not, and whether such restrictions are as per the user’s local national laws or not.
[Cross posted from EFF Deeplinks Blog, Link (CC-BY)] Americans pay by far the highest prices in the world for most prescription drugs, and of course big pharma would like to keep it that way. Key measures that the industry relies upon in this regard are the Prescription Drug Marketing Act [PDF] and Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act [PDF], which make it unlawful for most Americans to access lower-priced drugs from overseas, coupled with the powers of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to seize such drugs at the border on their own initiative.
[Maryant Fernández Pérez, EDRi, Link (CC-BY)] On 30 July 2015, copyright and related rights-holders associations, the General Inspection of Cultural Activities (IGAC), the Portuguese Consumer Directorate-General, the Portuguese Association of Telecom Operators, the organisation responsible for .pt domain registrations DNS.PT, the anti-“piracy” group MAPINET, advertising associations, and (unidentified) consumer associations agreed on a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at protecting copyright and related rights online.
This “self-regulatory” agreement, facilitated and promoted by the Portuguese government, is expected to enter into force around mid-August 2015. Although it has not been published, parts of its content have been reported by Portuguese news sites and the parties involved.
[John Hendrik Weitzmann, Communia Assoc., Link, (CC0)] Last week Communia joined the “European Observatory on Infringements of IPR” which is hosted by the European Union’s Office of Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM). The Observatory’s task is to provide the EU Commission with insights on every aspect of IPR infringement. It does so primarily by conducting surveys and studies on how, where and why IP rights are violated by whom and to what extent. In addition is helps coordinate across borders the efforts of various institutions involved in law enforcement. It also runs general as well as focussed awareness campaigns in the field of IP. This is done in conjunction with a permanent stakeholder dialogue, which is organized in working groups and a yearly plenary.
I wrote an op ed for The Hill ‘Congress Blog’ about the continuation of a PhRMA-funded effort to prevent access by consumers to lower cost international online pharmacies. They seem to have a new eye for extending criminal penalties for the sale of safe, genuine generic AND even brand medication through parallel trade. Over-zealous enforcement could have significant public health consequences. Much of this is within the American context but it’s worth taking note that consumers in many countries are affected.
[Swaraj Paul Barooah. Cross-posted from Spicy IP, Link] One would expect that the US Chamber of Commerce would have enough funds to commission a thorough and well researched report whenever they were to do so. Yet, their GIPC IP Index 2014 is what I would call a thoroughly embarrassing example of research methodology, let alone something that can be passed off as a useful “international index”. Is it a coincidence that the report comes up with results that favour some of industries well known for their lobbying in the United States – Big Pharma and the Tobacco lobby being the clearest examples? In this post, I’ll be marking out some egregious examples of flawed research methodology and would encourage readers to either add to my list, or to prove my suspicions of a biased index wrong. While this topic would optimally require a full report on its own, I’ll have to make do with one blog post, so will try to make my points as concise as possible. If anyone would like an expansion on any point, please leave a comment and I’ll do my best to expand on it. [Long post ahead]
[Cross posted from the DisCo Blog, Link] The second season of the gripping Washington drama House of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, will be available on Netflix in two weeks. But this post is about a different house of cards – the study released yesterday by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) on the Economic Impact of Global Software Theft on U.S. Manufacturing Competitiveness and Innovation. Although infringement of software obviously occurs throughout the world, the NAM report contains serious flaws.
Gilead is reported to be in talks to issue voluntary licenses to Indian generic manufacturers for the production of sofosbuvir, an important new drug to fight hepatitis C.
If the intended territorial scope of licenses is only 60 countries, it will be far less than what Gilead first offered through it voluntary licenses for ARVs and much more limited than the licensed territory negotiated with the Medicines Patent Pool. Moreover, if the territories are limited to sub-Saharan Africa, India, and low-income countries, it will miss key countries with with very high HEP C burdens, e.g., Egypt.
[Marcus Low, Treatment Action Campaign, Link (CC-BY-SA)] We are deeply perturbed by revelations in last Friday’s Mail & Guardian exposing what appears to be a very well-funded, covert plot by foreign pharmaceutical companies and their local subsidiaries to delay a democratic law reform process in South Africa. The law reform concerns the new draft intellectual property policy developed by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). This policy has already been delayed for many years. The leaked documents expose a secretive US$ 500,000 plot to delay the policy even further.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released the second edition of its Global Intellectual Property Index, a report which grades countries on the strength of their IP protection. This year’s index covers 25 countries, including all of the BRICS and most of the countries in the TPP negotiations. Countries are evaluated among 30 individual factors, which fall into one of six categories – Patents, Related Rights, and Limitations; Copyrights, Related Rights, and Limitations; Trademarks, Related Rights, and Limitations; Trade Secrets and Market Access; Enforcement; and Membership and Ratification of International Treaties. The full index is here, and the summary is here.
Gabriel Levitt is the vice president of PharmacyChecker.com, which “collects, evaluates, and reports credentials, prices, and customer feedback regarding pharmacies that operate online and through mail-order and fax (generally referred to as ‘online pharmacies’).”
Google’s founding and funding of the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP) should greatly concern consumers and health care providers, as well as the community of activists, academics and NGOs that focus on access to affordable medicines, intellectual property, and Internet freedom. CSIP’s activities compromise the very soul of search, the essence of the Internet as a tool for information justice, and public health. Other companies also fund CSIP, but as the leading search company, putative champion of Internet freedom, and because of its unique history of associations with online pharmacies, Google is the focus of this article.
There has been a surge of interest lately in commitments to license patents on terms that are “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory” (FRAND). The patents at issue in these cases often cover industry standards that were developed in collaborative trade associations known as standards-development organizations (SDOs). But while the principal focus of litigants and regulators in recent years has been on patent commitments made within SDOs, parties have increasingly made voluntary public patent statements and commitments in less formal settings. Such statements and commitments can take the form of covenants not to sue, promises to license on royalty-free or FRAND terms, or clarifications of previous commitments that have been made.