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

http://www.wipo.int/wipo_magazine/en/2009/02/article_0006.html

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.”

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2 responses to “Rice varieties. Nericas® & case for using intellectual property management for stewardship

  1. Guat Hong Teh

    Often we forget that there are other forms of intellectual property besides patents. Trademarks, in this case, can be a useful tool for CGIAR centres to utilise in disseminating their research outputs, building new partnerships and measuring impact. As partnerships with NARS, seed producers and civil society organisations etc. in Africa increase, I would be interested to see how, as an organisation, the CGIAR is able to develop sophistication to deal with emerging issues such as co-branding, market development, quality assurance and public-private partnerships.

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