For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Fordham Focus 5: Multilateral Developments

Moderating the session on Multilateral Developments, Michael Schlesinger (Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp) announced that, in effect, all the speakers and panelists were in agreement with one other on all major issues. This would mean that there would be less time devoted to speaker input, but more for general discussion.

James Love
Justin Hughes, speaking first, reminded us that some developing countries -- he mentioned Brazil and India by name -- have become increasingly sophisticated in their processes for formulating a joined-up intellectual policy and consulting stakeholder interests. This has naturally changed the pace and the substance of multilateral norm-shaping processes -- these being processes which increasingly demand evidence-based policy-making. Justin was followed by James Love (Knowledge Ecology International), who has been working in the field, particularly on behalf of consumer interests, since the mid-1980s.  James spoke about the inflated nature of the assessment of the value of the IP employed in IP-intensive industries, about the unrealistic position taken by both the EU and the US with regard to many aspects IP policy, rationing and barriers to access to new cancer drugs and the need to address public funding of priority research on biomedical R&D and the supply of public goods.

Now it was time for questions and discussion. First, Mihaly Ficsor was asked: "where do we go from here?"  Mihaly was not convinced that there was a legal need for a treaty to assist the visually impaired. However, it was a good idea from the point of view of showing that we all cared about the visually impaired, and might also be justified in terms of cross-border movement of goods.  Stanford McCoy disagreed with James Love's comments about inflated-value data as to the worth of IP in the US economy, adding that the US government was open to hearing data and suggestions as to where IP policy should lie.  Michele Woods then gave a WIPO perspective.

Following this discussion, Don Weerawit Weeraworawit (Thailand) spoke on Article 8(1) of TRIPS, the Singapore-US Free Trade Agreement (SUSFTA) and the unsuccessful attempt in subsequent FTA negotiations to persuade Thailand to accept patent extension terms similar to those in the SUSFTA, following fierce public protests. Michael Schlesinger asked Don what he thought about Barack Obama's visit to Thailand and the possibility of Thailand joining the TPP negotiations. Said Don, the Thai government is always hospitable, but has to listen to the voice of its many citizens who are HIV-positive and require expensive medication which may be best served by compulsory licensing under the TRIPS regime. There are also constitutional issues that must be dealt with before Thailand takes steps towards the TPP.

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