Monday 28 July 2008

Green IP and patent insurance

Writing in the excellent Intellectual Property Watch last Friday, Itaru Nitta (Green Intellectual Property Project, Geneva, Switzerland) describes how, in its 2008 Assembly, the World Health Organization (WHO) adopted its Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property. This initiative seeks to direct global R&D and IP policy towards the problems facing impoverished nations. In her article, " Patent Insurance Scheme: Financial Resource For WHO Global IP Strategy?" she writes of a proposed Patent Insurance Scheme (also called “Green IP") which would impose
"... an extra, official fee on patent applicants and holders as a form of insurance premium, and to establish a trust fund that would defend patent rights against the risk of compulsory licence and other flexibilities increasingly justified by growing anti-patent protests, while at the same time provide a wide variety of financial assistance relating to R&D and IP for developing countries ...".
She goes on to explain:
"Since the Patent Insurance Scheme is designed to be embedded in the existing patent system, the scheme would possess a substantive and sustainable financial scale (possible annual revenue: up to several tens of billions in US dollars ...) due to continuing growth of both quantity (e.g., filing number) and quality (e.g., subject matter) in the present patent system worldwide".
Readers of this weblog are invited to read Itaru Nitta's article in full (it's not very long) and to take a look at the ideas on the Green IP website too. Without prejudice to the issue of whether the proposal has any merits, it's my feeling is that it's refreshing to see proposals of any sort that seek to build constructively on the present system by adapting it to the present economic, political and environmental challenges it faces. The big challenge will come in trying to sell something like this, which is emanating from a single-issue agency such as the WHO, to WIPO as the body that is often almost paralysed by the conflicting interests arising from the many types of rights and stake-holders involved.

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