Monthly Archives: May 2009

TED now talks many languages…

Great move by TED to initiate a translation project on its site.  TED’s wealth of video resources are now slowly becoming available in a variety of languages.  Their site says:

“the TED Open Translation Project brings TEDTalks beyond the English-speaking world by offering subtitles, interactive transcripts and the ability for any talk to be translated by volunteers worldwide”

The project in itself is an interesting one, translators are working to bring these resources to a wider audience for the sole reward of attribution.  Oh, the power of attribution for effective knowledge sharing is not to be underestimated!

The recent “Economist” debate; 71% believe existing copyright laws do more harm than good.

The Economist recently held an online debate where they put to their readers;

“this house believes that existing copyright laws do more harm that good”.

Voting is now closed but 71% of those who voted agreed with the motion!

The comments submitted make interesting reading. If you are interested in the pros and cons of copyright there is a great cross section of opinion contained in those pages.

ASARECA call for proposals – deadline 22 June 2009
The following is taken from the call for proposals document linked above from the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa

“Title: Scaling up farmer-led seed enterprises for sustained productivity and livelihoods in ECA.
The Upscaling and Knowledge Management Programme of ASARECA seeks concept notes for a regional project that will generate rigorously tested and validated best-bet approaches and models for farmer-led seed enterprises that enhance smallholder access to affordable and quality seeds of improved varieties of AIV in selected countries of the ECA sub-region.“

Please refer to the linked pdf for full details of the call.

The Pirate Bay plot thickens….

This is an update to a recent posting we made about the Pirate Bay decision.

According to the IPKat:

“Pirate Bay’s defense lawyers allege that the presiding judge in the Pirate Bay case, Tomas Norström, may not have been chosen randomly as required under Swedish law.”

It doesn’t seem that this story is going to go away quietly.  No doubt all the extra publicity has done wonders for “The Pirate Bay” t-shirt sales…!

CREATIVE ECOLOGIES: Where Thinking is a Proper Job


John Howkins’ book  “The Creative Economy: How People Make Money from Ideas” (2002) made an impact by taking a holistic approach to what we often refer to as the information or knowledge economy.

His new book goes a step further in addressing the nature of creativity and its relationship to innovation within a larger context.

Howkins talks about how:

The way economics and business has approached (economic choices) for the past fifty years has been to focus on one-off innovation implemented in mass production with ever lower costs and prices. Business has seen creativity and innovation as specialist functions. I call this the repetitive economy. We are now seeing a shift to the creative economy where, although basic goods and services have not diminished in absolute terms, the bulk of growth comes from their added symbolic value.

Howkins is no ivory tower academic and brings a wealth of deep and broad real world experience to bear on his explorations.  In 2006 he was listed as one of the Fifty Most Important People in Intellectual Property by ‘Managing Intellectual Property’ magazine and in 2007 he was nominated #1 Creative Star in China by ‘Beijing Business News’.

You can download the first chapter of Creative Ecologies for free at:

I’m going to buy the book, and I think that it is a probably a “must read” for anyone who is interested in a fresh and stimulating exploration of the subject.

Post written by Peter Bloch, consultant to CAS-IP

Unusual trademark decision from Israeli Patent Office

This post from “The IP Factor” blog earlier this month talks about the Israeli Patent office allowing two companies to register the same trademark – most unusual.  As the author points out:

“The purpose of a trademark is to prevent competitors from selling confusingly similar goods with confusingly similar names”

This decision goes against that. I passed the item around the CAS-IP team  for comment and got a response from both Peter Bloch and Francesca Re Manning.  Peter said:

“I agree with the reporter that: “This decision does not serve the interests of the manufacturer or of the public.”  And that surely is the bottom line!  It is the responsibility of the trade mark office to render appropriate decisions, which this is not and there may very well be an appeal. “

Francesca commented:

“I honestly wonder what the examiner was trying to do here … how can he claim that consumers cannot be confused [by] identical trade marks for identical products which are sold in identical shops and in identical manners? If such a decision is not appealed and overturned, it can open huge controversy. OHIM … can always rely on its rules but how different are they from the law that the Israeli Patent Office applied?”

The OHIM that Francesca refers to is the Trade Marks and Designs Registration Office of the European Union.  Incidentally their website has some good general information on trademarks for those interested. Visit their “Quick Guides” pages for:

“A series of multimedia “Quick Guides” covering trade marks, designs and IP in general… The “Quick Guides” are easy to follow and user friendly. They take you you step-by-step through the different types of IP protection available and explain the pros and cons of each.”

Rice varieties. Nericas® & case for using intellectual property management for stewardship

This recent article in the WIPO magazine  talks about Nerica®, – a subject CAS-IP has been following closely with the Africa Rice Centre (WARDA).  

“Helping agricultural research centers manage their intellectual assets as public goods is the raison d’être of the Central Advisory Service on IP (CAS-IP), a unit of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) to which WARDA belongs. WARDA and CAS-IP are holding ongoing workshops to determine how IP mechanisms could best support the impact of this agricultural success story. Nerica was registered as a trademark with the USPTO in 2004, and as the expanding range of Nerica products are adopted by ever more smallholder farmers, CAS-IP notes that it will be increasingly important to protect the quality associations that have been so carefully established by WARDA, and to ensure that any Nerica seeds acquired by a farmer are the real thing.”

I have quoted this paragraph in its entirety as it was so well put! 

There has been some criticism around the use of “formal” intellectual property mechanisms such as trademarks in the field development as it has been viewed as “restrictive”, and counters the spirit of a “public good”. 

From our perspective this couldn’t be further from the truth!  We see a crystal clear case for IP mechanisms of this kind facilitating effective stewardship of research outputs.  A research breakthrough is the first step — after that, as the output makes it way downstream into the farmers hands and fields, this product MUST perform to expectations or the well intended mission of international research falls short.  Intellectual property management is one tool to help encapsulate the knowledge and experience of the original research into the product as it enters the supply chain.  Stewardship of breeding, storing, complementary inputs and techniques can be built into a brand and a brand can be moulded using formal IP such as trademarks.  To repeat the WIPO article, the aim is:  “to ensure that any Nerica seeds acquired by a farmer are the real thing.”

“simple patent protection does not apply anymore”
This was a quote from Jean-Noël Durvy, Acting Director Innovation Policy – DG Enterprise and Industry, European Commission, Brussels.  He said this during an opening speech at the European Patent Forum 2009.  According to the lead link from an interesting news agency called “Ag-IP-News” he went on to outline some of the new challenges to the IP system presented by the world of digital technologies.

I am trying to see if there are any papers etc available from this event now it has taken place –if there are then I will post an update with details.

Step towards Europe-wide copyright licence?

Guat Hong Teh posted a comment to a previous CAS-IP blog post in which I had vented my frustrations regarding barriers to purchasing digital media online, cross-border.  I felt the link she included deserved its own blog post! 

The article talks of plans by two European commissioners to create a Europe-wide copyright licence.  It states that currently:

“most online retailers limit sales of media — both digital and in the more traditional formats — to the countries in which they are based because of the complexity of satisfying varying domestic copyright rules and fees”

 Interestingly the global provider Apple has navigated the complex nature of the copyright fee collections across Europe and charges different prices in different countries.  Of course this goes against the spirit of the single market if a consumer must pay one price in European country X and another in European country Y for the same product.  Yet it proves there is a demand and also therefore, a business case to find a solution! 

Let’s see what happens, at the moment it is just a proposal…  However, I for one am keeping my fingers crossed!

The G8 & the agriculture ministers’ meeting
Last month in Rome the G8 Agriculture Ministers’ meeting was held.  The lead link provides all the details anyone would ever need on this meeting (and more…)  Looking at the final declaration point number 5 deserves a special mention.

“5.    We call for enhanced support including investments in agricultural science, research, technology, education, extension services, and innovation. We also commit ourselves to increasingly share technology, processes and ideas with other countries in the interest of increasing the capacity of national and regional institutions and governments, as well as promoting food security. These efforts are vital to increasing sustainable agricultural productivity and rural development in each country, in accordance with various agricultural conditions, respecting biodiversity and improving peoples’ access to food, social and economic development and prosperity. We will continue our support to capacity building in developing countries in sanitary and phytosanitary standards in order to facilitate access to markets and fulfill requirements of consumers.”

Plenty of IP touch-points in there!  Innovation… sharing…

Of course the meeting was reportedly both positive and negative, depending on which version of events you read.  However, surely it can only be a good sign that this meeting took place and that agriculture is receiving this high level focus.  We will keep an eye open as to whether this translates into more attention/action at the main G8 meeting in July.