Since 2008 the CAS-IP blog published some 480 posts, and received as many comments. But everything has an ending and now it’s time for us to say goodbye… it’s been a great journey!
As editor I learned a great deal, both personally and professionally. Special thanks to DGIS who provided support that made this project possible, to Victoria Henson-Apollonio who, as manager of CAS-IP until 2010, supported the work wholeheartedly, and to Peter Bloch who could be relied upon to contribute regularly, and who wrote some of the most popular of our posts!
Where can I continue to read about IP in Ag4Dev?
Visit the latest CGIAR blog on Legal/IP issues CLIPnet, where we will be covering similar content of interest to the agricultural IP community.
Why is CAS-IP blog closing?
The CGIAR has recently undergone an important reform process designed to improve delivery of its research results. The former system-wide units including the Central Advisory Service on Intellectual Property (CAS-IP) have now been integrated into the Consortium Office under the supervision of the Consortium Legal Counsel, Ms. Elise Perset.
Will I still be able to access the CAS-IP blog posts?
Yes, for now the blog will remain online as an archive.
Thanks for reading, interacting and sending your post suggestions and comments. See you at
Over and out….
I received a notice from the Hutton Institute who are offering two fully funded PhD studentships for international students in 2012. Topics include: plant genetics, plant pathogens, land use, socio-economics, soils and biodiversity.
Full details of the projects offered can be viewed on FindaPhD.com.
Closing date for applications is 13 February 2012.
“The James Hutton Institute recognises and values the expertise, talent and knowledge international students can bring to our research community and the important contribution they make to the development of our scientific excellence and are offering two fully funded PhD studentships to international students for 2012.
PhD opportunities are offered from all our science groups and cover many aspects of our work including plant genetics, plant pathogens, land use, socio-economics, soils and biodiversity. The James Hutton Institute’s International PhD Studentship programme is highly competitive and attracts international students of the highest calibre.”
The European Commission project IP4inno is offering a series of free Virtual Classroom Lessons (VCLs) during February and March.
These virtual sessions are tasters for training that will take place later in the year. More materials are available on their website or by topic below:
Monday 20 February 14:00 – 15:00 CET
Module 6B – Selling the message: how to convince SMEs that IP matters
Monday 27 February 14:00 – 15:00 CET
Module 5C – Business strategies for enforcing patents
Monday 5 March 14:00 – 15:00 CET
Module 6A – IP in the ICT sector
Monday 12 March 14:00 – 15:00 CET
Module 6A – Biotechnology patents
A colleague from Moi University, Josam Musambayi contacted me recently with an outline for a paper he is writing on demarcation. Whilst demarcation of land is not a topic we would normally cover on this blog, the issue may be of general interest to this community, and has legal implications.
Does anyone have any suggestions or advice for Josam in his work? You can download his draft paper here. He says:
“uncontrolled subdivision of agricultural land …[could increase the] likelihood of food insecurity
..the purpose of my paper is to gather information for use by the planners and government policy makers, especially in Africa , on the food security situation… the population explosion in Africa is placing a huge demand on governments for food provision , climate change notwithstanding. Contribution from scholars is welcome so that we can share this information with others.“
Please contact Josam directly if you have any comments on this topic – his contact details are in the draft paper.
The discussion of the US Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) has been causing plenty of noise online. Wikipedia is planning a strike this week – for 24 hours they are going to pull the plug on their site. This will no doubt grab the attention of their estimated 25million daily visitors!
Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia has (according to the Guardian):
“been a persistent critic of Sopa, calling it “the worst internet legislation I have ever seen.”"
This is one of many voices against the proposed legislation. Last year the BBC reported:
“The founders of Google, Twitter and eBay have signed a strongly worded letter criticising controversial US legislation ahead of a debate in Congress… Sopa was introduced by Judiciary Committee chairman Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican, who said the legislation was designed to “stop the flow of revenue to rogue websites… that profit from selling pirated goods without any legal consequences”.”
Yesterday however, The Guardian reported that:
“Congress ready to drop Sopa vote after White House says it would not support legislation that threatens openness of internet”
Again from the Guardian:
“…while Sopa now looks severely damaged, Protect IP is still up for a vote on 24 January and there is widespread support among politicians for tighter control of the internet”
Of course there is support for this legislation. Whilst it seems the voices against have been most successful in capturing media headlines, there are also compelling arguments in support of legislation (see video below).
What is clear is that striking a balance between infringement and fair use is very difficult to legislate for…. Fair Use is a concept that we often rely on in our work so it’s worth taking the time to exploring the wider issues.
Final comment from the Guardian:
…So far, the Sopa battle has been largely fought out in the tech, media, and business pages. All that could change Wednesday when Wikipedia goes dark.”
Read the official legal docs
Some background Q&As
“Academic publishers make Murdoch look like a socialist…” – harsh words from George Monboit (a writer for the Guardian). Good to see such a high-profile piece pushing Open Access. Of course as we know the devil is in the detail – but this article got people talking about this increasingly important subject!
See original item with full references: George Monbiot – The Lairds of Learning or as it appeared in the Guardian last year : Academic publishers make Murdoch look like a socialist.
(Emphasis added) “Who are the most ruthless capitalists in the Western world?… my vote goes not to the banks, the oil companies or the health insurers, but – wait for it – to academic publishers… Of all corporate scams, the racket they run is most urgently in need of referral to the competition authorities.”
“..the academic publishers get their articles, their peer reviewing (vetting by other researchers) and even much of their editing for free. The material they publish was commissioned and funded not by them but by us, through government research grants and academic stipends. But to see it, we must pay again, and through the nose.”
His suggestions about how to improve access?
“In the short term, governments should refer the academic publishers to their competition watchdogs, and insist that all papers arising from publicly funded research are placed in a free public database. In the longer term, they should work with researchers to cut out the middleman altogether, creating – along the lines proposed by Björn Brembs of Berlin’s Freie Universität – a single global archive of academic literature and data. Peer-review would be overseen by an independent body. It could be funded by the library budgets which are currently being diverted into the hands of privateers.”
See original item: George Monbiot – The Lairds of Learning or as it appeared in the Guardian: Academic publishers make Murdoch look like a socialist. Thanks to those at the CGIAR who Yammered this item and got it traveling further!
This week I caught up with an episode of a BBC podcast “Peter Day’s World of Business” that was all about intellectual property.
As you would expect the issue of copyright in the digital economy was discussed at length – to listen visit the link below.
Well worth a listen!
GlobalBiz: Take a Copy: 09 July 11 (Duration: 27 mins)
“Intellectual property sounds an innocuous enough idea, but patents and copyright have recently been stirring up a lot of strife. Peter Day finds out why copyright in particular is such a contentious issue in the Internet age.”
Last month BioMed Central ran an event to coincide with Open Access Week. In true open access style they have now made all the presentations available:
“Open Access Africa 2011, hosted by BioMed Central in conjunction with Computer Aid International, was held at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, Ghana, during Open Access Week 2011. The conference brought together representatives from Google, British Medical Journal (BMJ), Department for International Development (DFID), Pan African Medical Journal and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) to discuss open access publishing in an African context. All conference presentations and images are now available from our website.”
I was looking at the presentation from Helena Asamoah-Hassan, University Librarian, KNUST in Ghana entitled: “Case studies of open access initiatives for access to information in developing countries” in which she wrote of major benefits/obstacles:
“Major Benefits: – Unrestricted access to knowledge, – Speed and reduced cost of distribution, – Access to grey literatures from developing world, - Expanded opportunity to publish. Major Obstacles: -Poor State of ICT – limited computer literacy; high cost of internet access limiting access ; – low bandwidth, - Copyright issues (authors sign away their rights and so cannot self archive their own papers) and – Misconception of Open Access resulting from lack of awareness.”
These points are certainly are worth remembering! For me the issue is both an IP one, and a communications one – i.e. raising awareness where required and providing tailored solutions to access. In her presentation Helena Asamoah-Hassan provides many examples of African initiatives already underway, and her suggestions to improve the OA situation.
It’s going to be a long, hard, and continuous process but there are many laudable projects moving in the right direction, as the presentations from the Open Access Africa event show!
Other related posts:
Offline OA: “OA’ (OA Prime): bringing OA resources to low connectivity areas” a solution (hopefully a stop-gap) for low connectivity. And “Open Access; more than just citation considerations” which talks about access, readership, download and citation of OA.
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
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:
A report on the seminar is available at: