Wednesday whimsies

Wrong address! IPKat team member Jeremy has a little-known email address at which he never gives out to anyone, because it is fundamentally just a receptacle for the myriad automated messages and out-of-office responses which are generated and sent in his general direction whenever an item is posted on one of the blogs he looks after. To his surprise, he discovered today that people have been writing to him at that address. He has now created a message which any human correspondent should receive to the effect that the address is not used for correspondence, giving the address of his active email account ( If you are one of those poor souls who emailed the wrong the address and have been patiently awaiting a response that never came, Jeremy apologises for your disappointment.

Re:Search flourishes. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) proudly announces the fruits of the first year of Re:Search (the launch of which, almost exactly one year ago, was covered by the IPKat here). For those who may have forgotten (or who may never have known), Re:Search is a consortium where public and private sector organizations share valuable IP and expertise with the global health research community to promote development of new drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics to treat neglected tropical diseases, malaria, and tuberculosis. To make it run smoothly, it's administered by WIPO, in partnership with BIO Ventures for Global Health, a non-governmental organization based in San Francisco.  Says WIPO:
"One year after its launch, WIPO Re:Search has doubled its membership and resulted in ten research collaborations or agreements. ...

Membership in the initiative has grown significantly since its launch in October 2011 – from 31 members to 61 - from all five continents – today. In particular, membership has grown from African-based organizations, where academic and other research institutions have great capacity to undertake both laboratory and clinical research and development for improved treatments for many diseases endemic in Africa.

By October 2012, the initiative had facilitated ten research collaborations or agreements between WIPO Re:Search members. A number of additional agreements are in advanced stages of discussion between members with more collaboration ideas and agreements in early development".
The IPKat and Merpel both welcomed this initiative last year, pausing only to ask why it wasn't taken sooner. They are both glad to see that it has apparently already yielded some fruit. However, the proof of the pudding is in the eating and the time for congratulation will be when the agreements made under this initiative are themselves resulting in the discovery, manufacture and sale of new drugs and means of administering them safely and affordably to those who need them most.

Junior Ministers in the British
Government practise pass-
the-IP-portfolio ...
"I had a very pleasant surprise on Monday afternoon".  No, this time it's not the IPKat celebrating the absence of grammatical errors in a piece of IP prose. These are the very words spoken by katfriend and respected IP personality Mary-Ellen Field (Brand Finance), when she left the the meeting of the All Party IP Group (on which see the IPKat's Monday post here), actually believing that this cross-party group of Members of Parliament chaired by John Whittingdale finally understood the importance of IP, not only to the economy but for the creators of all types of intellectual property --  and that creators had the right to be paid for what they have created.  Mary-Ellen continues:
"Not only do they understand, they now realise what so many of us have been complaining about for so long and seem prepared to take on the Sir Humphreys and their fellow politicians about it. They were not at all complimentary about most of the former holders of the IP ministerial portfolio, the IPO or the various government departments who seem to play pass the parcel endlessly with the subject.
The Group said it would "seek to unpick the tangled web of cross-departmental responsibilities in this area by considering how policy has been developed, the effectiveness of the current approach, and whether the machinery of government can be improved for better policy formulation". Well they did that, helped by our submissions, and they didn't like what they saw.

When I received the notification of the All Party IP Group's new inquiry into "The Role of Government in Protecting and Promoting Intellectual Property" earlier this year, my heart sank as I'm sure did the hearts of everyone in the IP world in the UK. Not again, I thought. How many times will politicians ask us to write more submissions for free that no one with the power to do anything will pay the slightest bit of attention to.

However this inquiry seemed very different when I read what they were proposing. Just five questions -- and the MPs would deal with the responses themselves [now that is a surprise, says Merpel, who often wonders whether the only things MPs do for themselves are, well, never mind ... you can probably guess]. For a change, there was no supposedly big name involved after whom the Inquiry would be named. Five intelligent questions that to me showed that someone had indeed being paying attention and knew that something had to be done if we are to compete successfully in the global economy.

They asked the simple but obvious questions that so many others in the past have either not understood or not thought important. So for all of us who put in submissions back in March, we all deserve a round of applause, some people did read them and paid attention. I do hope I'm not being overly optimistic. Take the time to read the report".

Around the weblogs. Love may be lovelier the second time around, according to Frank Sinatra anyway, but visiting Africa's official IP websites a year after he first did so on behalf of the Afro-IP weblog, Kingsley Egbuonu has not had uniformly happy experiences.  This week's trip to Egypt however turned out to be a bright spot, with that country making progress in the spread of IP information even despite the distractions of its recent political upheavals. Elsewhere, the jiplp weblog addresses publication ethics, Art & Artifice explains that "exotic dance" is not an art form (in New York, for tax purpose anyway), the Class 99 design law weblog introduces a new Polish member to its blogging team in the form of Krystian Maciaszek and The SPC Blog reveals that the British do not have a monopoly on the reference of patent term extensions to the Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling, since the Dutch have just gone and asked five of their own.

Restless about ritonavir. This Kat has been reading with interest the request made in the United States by four non-governmental organisations -- the American Medical Students Association, Knowledge Ecology International, U.S. Public Interest Research Group and the Universities Allied for Essential Medicines --  that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant Bayh-Dole Act march-in rights for the patents held by Abbott Laboratories relevant to the manufacture and sale of anti-retroviral drug ritonavir, which the KEI media release describes as "a federally funded invention that is much more expensive in the United States than in Canada, Europe or other high-income countries". According to KEI:
"... in the more than 31 years of the history of the Bayh-Dole Act, the NIH has never granted a march-in request. This means either that there have been zero abuses involving NIH funded patent rights in more than three decades, or that the NIH has been unwilling to curb abuses ...".
This one will run and run, predicts the IPKat, since both money and principle are at stake.  Merpel agrees, wondering how quickly this issue will get to the US Supreme Court, and how it might rule on it.
Wednesday whimsies Wednesday whimsies Reviewed by Jeremy on Wednesday, October 31, 2012 Rating: 5

1 comment:

  1. Re:Search seems to be a laudable project. However one must bear in mind that just because a technology is patentable it does not mean it is the most appropriate one to use in a given situation. I believe a lot of low tech solutions have not been adequately investigated for dealing with developing world diseases. See for example the following article on use of bed nets against malaria:

    New drugs and vaccines are high tech expensive solutions to the problem of disease, but they may not be the most efficient use of money for the health departments of developing countries.


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