Today and tomorrow the IP managers/focal points of the CGIAR are meeting at Bioversity HQ in Rome. Presentations were made by each of the IP managers about issues their centres have been facing recently. There were also presentations from: Keith Jones from Washington State University about some of the commercialisation projects he is working on, Gerald Moore from Bioversity International about the International Treaty and Solange Dao from the copyright office in Burkina Faso about copyright practice there.
Tonight Peter Bloch from CAS-IP will be making a presentation over dinner about market development opportunities using the case study of Ecuadorian cacao and the development of a new chocolate bar.
I just want to say WELCOME TO ROME to all the participants who have come from far and wide to be here this week!
Yesterday on the patent law blog, patentlyo.com, there was a summary of a study of patent re-examination cases from the PTO looking at outcomes and timing. A nice overview for those who are passionate about patents!
This case was highlighted on ipnewsflash.com. It’s a trademark infringement lawsuit – filed by Hearst Communications (owners of “Cosmopolitan” magazine) against a Las Vegas resort and casino company planning to use the name “cosmopolitan”. An interesting slant in this case is the fact that it’s a common word, and that magazines and casinos are clearly different markets. Reuters also reported on the story, http://www.reuters.com/article/industryNews/idUSN1648593320080616 and the status as they reported is that:
“Hearst has asked the court to halt the use by defendants of its trademark names and to order the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to deny or cancel the registration of the defendants’ marks. It also wants all advertising and promotional material that are found to infringe or dilute HCI trademarks to be impounded.”
For now the trademark world is waiting to see what happens.
Plant Disease Epidemiology – this is definitely something you are either interested in or you aren’t… So, for those of you who are here is the link! It was on the africancrops.net site, and the fact it is all open access caught my attention.
This article looks at a current case involving trans-border geographical indications. The article posted on the SpicyIP blog today was written by an intellectual property practitioner from India, Latha R Nair. It’s a great “GI controversy” case study.
So says this commentary piece on africanexecutive.com written by Philip Emeagwali (who was described as “the Bill Gates of Africa” by former US president Bill Clinton.)
I noticed a post last week on sciencecommons.org announcing a new initiative “Health Commons” – the idea to apply network engineering to science processes. Visit site above for a 6min video outline. Perhaps an “Ag Commons” is not so far away!
Dr Wayne Hancock kindly provided a comment about my last post (the report on the use of IP to raise income.) Wayne is a market development specialist who works for European Fair Trade organisations as well CG centres. He says:
“Its an interesting concept and is something that Fair Trade and other trade related development organisations have been doing in different way through trying to link small scale farmers to higher value or larger scale markets (although maybe not with as much direct emphasis on IP as a marketing tool).
One confusion that can arise is differences within IP – is it a brand, a name, a regionally based distinction or is it indigenous rights to something distinct from a specific plant animal or location? Many of the products listed in the study don’t seem to have an IP component outside of branding and trade marking hence the emphasis on the IP business plan marketing approach. Even the Blackwood or Mpingo (Dalbergia melanoxum or related species) grows across the region so a distinctive product (as in the regional coffees of Ethiopia) is unlikely to be applicable.
Shea butter is an excellent product and there is at least one group undertaking similar work with that, and the Phytotrade Africa people based in the UK do similar things with several products from Aloes to the Sausage tree (Kiglia spp.) for pharmaceauticals and cosmetics. I have put forward the idea of a regional approach to marketing of tree nuts from southern Africa including macadamia and cashew with a distinctive brand presence to bring more value back to small farmers. However, finding funding and developing the supply and value chains into a substantial market takes time and resources.
The fact that Mozambique used to be a significant cashew producer does not make much difference to consumers who can get quality cashews from a range of locations. Considerable input is needed to bring Mozambiqan cashews up to the world standard again, starting with better genetic material and production through to processing and a marketing strategy; an IP marketing approach is an important part of that, not the complete answer. An integrated approach is needed that supports the products into the market place and makes production, utilisation and conservation viable by providing incentives such as income alternatives to small farmers/land users/collectors is required.
The Guardian, and several other sites, posted this item last week – I saw the link today on http://afro-ip.blogspot.com/2008/06/light-years-points-way-for-sub-saharan.html
The study by the non profit organisation Light Years IP, (and supported by the UK’s Department for International Development) focuses on the potential of IP to raise income for low earning producers in sub-Saharan Africa. Ron Layton, CEO of Light Years IP said,
“In the course of doing this study, we came to realise that across 14 products there could be an average increase of 230 to 350 percent in the income that could come back to the developing countries.”
The example of Ethiopian coffee was also mentioned (an item we recently blogged http://www.cas-ip.org/?p=129).” You can download the report “Distinctive values in African exports – how Intellectual Property can raise export income and alleviate poverty” from the Light Years IP site http://www.lightyearsip.net/scopingstudy/
Our Strategic IP & Technology Transfer Specialist, Peter Bloch, sent me this article with the following comment:
“This call for action has been heard. The West Africa Seed Alliance (see our story http://www.cas-ip.org/?page_id=32 ) and the newly formed Eastern and Southern Africa Seed Alliance (ESASA) directly address these very issues and are focused on developing sustainable increases in agricultural output across Africa. In the words of Ethiopian economist Eleni Gabre-Madhin;
“…Africa is open for business; and business IS agriculture”
He mentioned again Eleni Gabre-Madhin’s brilliant talk on the Ethiopian commodities exchange that we blogged a while back. It is well worth a look if you didn’t catch it – see https://casipblog.wordpress.com/2008/04/28/112/