Monthly Archives: October 2008

Hunger crises in Ethiopia, raising issues about agricultural-led development strategies
Many thanks to Shlomo Bachrach – founder/editor of the East Africa Forum ( for his comment in connection to today’s lead link.

“Ethiopia’s record makes it clear that increasing food production depends on a combination of factors.  The availability of improved seed varieties and fertilizer are necessary but not sufficient.  Availability of a resource does not always lead to its effective use, as anyone who has worked in the developing world is aware.  Public policy, land tenure, farm credit, extension services, appropriate inputs of seed, fertilizer and tools, distribution systems, marketing structures, public awareness and more have to be effective, transparently institutionalized and reliable.  Are Ethiopia’s regular shortfalls merely the result of bad luck?  Or were the recent good years merely due to good luck?  Not mentioned in all of this is the fact that even in good years, Ethiopia needs food assistance.  Since 80% or more of the population is rural, there is reason to believe that Ethiopia needs more than luck to establish food security. “

TK and ABS – the case of “Aarogyapacha” in India

This item was listed on this week’s Managing Intellectual Property midweek news round up. Thanks to Irina Curca for this blog post!

Access and Benefit sharing (ABS) is a  fundamental concept for those involved in the protection of the traditional knowledge (TK).  One of the main legislative  documents  in the TK field is the Biological Diversity Act 2002  which wants to

“achieve the objective of equity in sharing benefits from such use of resources. Its key provisions include measures for sharing of benefits from the use of biodiversity, including transfer of technology, monetary returns, joint Research & Development, joint IPR ownership, etc.; provisions for local communities to have a say in the use of their resources and knowledge, and to charge fees for this and protection of indigenous or traditional knowledge, through appropriate laws or other measures such as registration of such knowledge.” 

Even though the Biological Diversity Act addresses a number of fundamental TK issues, more needs to be done, as sometimes apparently good projects seem not to come to a happy end.

Development 2.0 – blend of economic and social objectives
Referencing a item that was posted back in March, the PSD blog talks again about “development 2.0” and the opinion that in the future this model may gradually replace the traditional-style development model.  The lead link also mentions a recent report by the US Chamber of Commerce, “Development 2.0: Changing the Way Globalization Works“.  There is much talk of partnerships, crossover planning and role of multinationals in emerging markets.

“Private-sector action is not simply altruistic, but reflects a growing overlap in interests as development challenges are increasingly impacting the ability of firms to operate effectively.”

All this concentration on partnerships and crossover planning will no doubt raise many IP issues!

The current economic crisis and Africa
This link is to the Council on Foreign Relations site. With the news still dominated by the financial meltdown in the US and Europe this item talks of some of the possible impacts on Africa. It’s an interview piece with Shantayanan Devarajan, the Chief Economist of the World Bank’s Africa Region. He talks about the banking systems in Africa, private investment levels and the World Bank’s role in all of this. Specifically relating to agriculture the following question was posed; “Do you anticipate that some of that kind of funding might need to go toward the agricultural sector?” To which Mr Devarajan replied:

“With agriculture we [the World Bank] are scaling up our program and we’re planning to lend about $700 million to $800 million this year. But that’s official aid, so I don’t think that should be facing a shortfall, because that’s government aid, that’s our aid money that’s already pledged. So this is really about the public-private partnerships for large infrastructure projects like electricity plants and things like that.”

Further discussion on the topic can be found on his blog. The item referenced outlines 4 possible implications for Africa in light of the recent turmoil in global financial markets.

Reversal of the traditional flow of innovation?
This Boston Globe article builds an argument that “innovation’s centre of gravity” is set to move further from developed nations and closer to poorer ones.  It uses current examples of mobile technology innovations, until now unknown in the US & Europe, that are building a financial sector in areas of India populated by those living (until now) in a purely cash economy.  These innovations are unlocking new services and stimulating the market.  Big technology providers are taking notice and are reacting by moving research hubs into the developing world.

The article quotes:

“C.K. Prahalad, a business professor at the University of Michigan, has called [it] “the fortune at the bottom of the pyramid” – the vast aggregate purchasing power locked away in the 4 billion people who make up the world’s poor… companies are confronting the unique challenge of making high-tech products cheaply enough to make a profit. In some cases, this means shifting jobs for talented designers and engineers to the developing world – not just to save labor costs, but in order to better understand the markets they are now trying to reach.

“Developing markets offer the best opportunity for global firms to discover what is likely to be ‘next practice,’ as contrasted with today’s best practice,” Prahalad has written. “The low end is a new source of innovation.””

The start of a reversed trend in TT flow?

The next US President and the patent system

I couldn’t resist blogging this item as the US presidential election campaign is (thankfully!) entering its final stages.  It’s from the Patent Docs blog and it outlines what the US Presidential candidates have planned for the USPTO, including summaries of the key points to come out of a discussion sponsored by the Colorado Bar Association entitled: “Intellectual Property Policy and the Presidential Election; A Discussion on its Future by Leading Policy Advisors to the Candidates.”

Welcome to the new CAS-IP team members. Francesca Re Manning and Peter Munyi.

Welcome to the CAS-IP team Francesca & Peter!

Francesca will be assisting the Latin American CGIAR centres in developing and strengthening their IP strategies, and helping them with the negotiation and the draft of collaboration and research agreements. She will also help CIMMYT to set up its Technology Transfer Management Office and assist CIP with various projects on the Andean potato.
Francesa Re

She is an English qualified solicitor specialised in Commercial and Intellectual Property Law. She graduated with a First Class Honours in Political Sciences, International Law, from the University of Siena, Italy, and holds a Masters of Law degree from the University of Cambridge, UK. She has working experience in a number of International Organisations, including UNICEF, UNHCR and the Council of Europe. She is the founder and Secretary of UNIFEM, Cambridge branch, to which she contributes in her spare time. Francesca is Italian and speaks English, Spanish and French fluently. She brings to the CAS-IP team her transactional IP experience and contractual negotiation skills, as well as her understanding of the international setting.  Francesca is based in Cambridge, England.

Peter Munyi is currently providing back-stopping services to ICRAF, and SSA offices of CIMMYT and ICRISAT. He’s also engaged in the on-going access and benefit sharing negotiations under the auspices of the CBD.  
peter munyi
Peter holds degrees in law from Stockholm University, Sweden and Moi University, Kenya as well a specialised certificate in regulation of genetic engineering from Tromso University, Norway. An advocate of the High Court of Kenya and a qualified patent attorney, Peter specializes in intellectual property law and has published widely on the subject. He also serves as the Chief Legal Officer at icipe, an intergovernmental agricultural research centre base in Nairobi.

The “Catfish Wars” – G.I and branding issues

This New York Times article tells the story of the “Catfish Wars”, which in itself is a fascinating tale – raising many issues about aquaculture in a development context.  Specifically however, the issues about branding, labelling, origin and the effects this can have on markets was the reason for blogging this article. Halfway through the feature there is reference to the fact that in 1991 American catfish farmers pushed for amendments to the agriculture appropriations bill to prohibit Vietnamese catfish being called catfish in the US to differentiate their product.  More recently new catfish crosses are  to be launched under a new “brand” to disassociate from the troubled name.

Rebecca Tushnet on her blog sums up the issues comprehensively:

The NYT … feature [touches on] issues of false advertising (what is a catfish?), GIs (including the use of “Cajun” on fish not raised in the US, as well as country-of-origin labeling), and branding (including US growers’ decision to switch to the name Delacata in an attempt to leave the catfish wars behind).

Read the full article for the complete picture!

European Commission and IFAD; new deal to finance pro-poor agricultural research
The above link is to a press release on the IFAD website with details of a new Contribution Agreement between the EC and IFAD worth Eur 67.5 million to finance research through the CGIAR.  The press release states:

“The main aim of this new agreement is to ensure that scientific and technological advances and agricultural research will be made available to the world’s 450 million smallholder farms, on whom depend the livelihoods of over 2 billion rural poor people.

…to achieve maximum impact, especially for Sub-Saharan Africa, there is a clear need to move from a supply-based approach to a demand-based one. This means forging partnerships between scientists, poor smallholder farmers, service providers and other main stakeholders.”

For the full press release visit the lead link.

Copyright and trademark issues – updates on the Hasbro & Scrabulous case
I blogged this story when the legal battle was in progress.  SpicyIP recently blogged the outcome of the case and more recently an update to the story (lead link).  In the update they provide some useful insights and analysis of the trademark and copyright arguments.  I personally found this case interesting as it seemed to highlight a clash of the new and old (the online vs. pre-online worlds).  Plus, at the time many commented on ways this case may have been avoided by Hasbro whilst benefiting from exploiting a new opportunity.  Finally, the whole story provides some interesting analysis and comment for those who like to chew the fat on copyrights and trademarks!