Monthly Archives: October 2011

The Maple Agriculture Protection and Law Enforcement Act

This work has been released into the public domain by its author, Oven Fresh (wikipedia commons)New Englanders both enjoy and take great pride in their maple syrup.  In response to the appearance of “fake” syrup claiming to originate in Vermont, local senators have sponsored the proposed Maple Agriculture Protection and Law Enforcement, or MAPLE, Act.

According to the Los Angeles Times “Under existing law, fraudulently representing something as maple syrup is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year behind bars.”  The MAPLE Act seeks to impose stiffer penalties on unscrupulous entrepreneurs.

While the term “Vermont Maple Syrup” could probably qualify for a certification mark, this legislation is intended to bolster food labeling requirements administered by the Food and Drug Administration, and to better ensure that only “maple syrup” can be labeled as such.

Downstream, however, producers may want to seek IP protection on a state-by state basis (e.g., “New York Pure Maple Syrup”) because modern extractive technologies are now being used to produce maple syrup without the lengthy and traditional distillation process.  These “fast track” products use the real raw ingredient (sap from the maple tree); but they do not have the unique and distinctive maple taste of the real thing.  Because they are less expensive, they could pose a greater long-term threat to legitimate producers than the fake product that sparked this proposed legislation.

Post written by Peter Bloch

Photo credit: The photo has been released into the public domain by its author, Oven Fresh

Addressing legal barriers in sharing of research data

The following is a press release of interest from “Knowledge Exchange” – “a co-operative effort that supports the use and development of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) infrastructure for higher education and research.”

PRESS RELEASE. 4 October 2011.  “Addressing legal barriers in sharing of research data

It is difficult for researchers and those supporting them to understand how open access to research data can be legally obtained and re-used. This is due to the fact that European and national laws vary and researchers work across national boundaries. A possible approach to providing clarity would be that researchers assign a licence to their data. This practice could be incorporated in a code of conduct for researchers.

This is one of the recommendations from the report ‘The legal status of research data in the Knowledge Exchange partner countries’ which was commissioned by Knowledge Exchange (KE) and written by the Centre for Intellectual Property Law (CIER). The aim of the report was to provide clarity by analysing the intellectual property regimes in the four KE countries and European database law. Moreover, the report provides three recommendations to achieve better access: making contractual arrangements with authors, harmonisation of European copyright law and setting up of policies on commercial interests.

Licence for re-use to be included in code of conduct

On 9 September the findings of the report were discussed in Brussels with national legal experts and representatives from the European Commission. In the discussion a waiver or licence for researchers was considered to be most likely to be adopted. This could also be incorporated in a code of conduct for researchers. The discussion revealed that joint publicly and privately funded research poses a complex challenge as this requires balancing the interests of public funding and those of private companies. Harmonisation of copyright law was considered a very complex matter and not feasible in the short term.

The full report and the four national reports are available at:

http://www.knowledge-exchange.info/Default.aspx?ID=461

A report on the seminar is available at:

http://www.knowledge-exchange.info/Default.aspx?ID=455


Bacardi and its yeast, a tale of exiled IP?

It’s not often an IP story comes along that reads more like a film script, but here’s one!  It’s the tale of how a yeast strain, one of Bacardi’s biggest assets for its rum production, left the country during Cuba’s Communist nationalisation program in the 60s.  It’s quite a read…

For the full story:
Bacardi, and its yeast, await a return to Cuba

Update on the Myriad (gene patent) case

There has been movement on an important gene patent case that we have followed in the past, the “Myriad” case. For more information take your pick from a range of posts on the subject on Patent Docs

PatentlyO summarised, “Guest Post: An Interesting Preview of Myriad?

“The Myriad case from the Southern District of New York, involving patent eligibility of DNA isolates derived from naturally occurring DNA, drew a great deal of attention. The court basically held such isolates ineligible for patent coverage as being too similar to the natural substances, and hence barred by the product-of-nature case law.”

This sounds like good news?  Well, even if it were as simple as that, it’s not over yet.  The case is now on appeal at the Federal Circuit. To be continued…

“Will patenting crops help feed the hungry?”

Will patenting crops help feed the hungry?” asked an article on The Conversation last week.

Interesting points made in the article include:

“In some cases, where new technologies are useful in the developed world as well as in developing nations, it may still be useful to patent those technologies. Such technologies can be licensed to seed companies in the developed world for commercial gain, whilst still providing the technologies “for free” elsewhere.”

“In the developing world, we have a policy of making technologies freely available, whether patented or not. Even if we have a patent on a gene, we can provide a no-cost license in developing countries; many large companies do the same”

“Without gene patents we would have less innovation, a solution that wouldn’t help food security at all.” (…)

Good to see solutions such as no-cost licences aired as ways to use IP in a development context.  There are alternative ways to work within the existing structures – and more discussion on these would be welcomed.

Thanks to our friends at Agrobiodiversity blog for sending the link.