Category Archives: CAS-IP housekeeping

Final post on the CAS-IP blog…. but please join us at CLIPnet!

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…. 🙂

Last chance to comment; future scenarios of IP management in the CGIAR

Back in October we blogged the “Results of the Review of CAS-IP and Future Scenarios of IP Management in the CGIAR” and we invited comments.  This was a report published after an evaluation exercise of both our unit and our function. 

The team who conducted the review process said in their report:

“We firmly believe that the management (or mismanagement) of intellectual property will be a primary factor in determining the future of the CGIAR’s contributions to agricultural innovation systems that will help ensure global food security, poverty alleviation and environmental sustainability.”

The consultation part of this process is now coming to a close.  If you wish to comment, please do so before the end of the year.  We would very much like to hear your views on what IP management in the CGIAR should consist of.

Browse the results of the review HERE “Review Site”.  Low bandwidth version available  Have your say and leave a comment.

Some people have written to us directly, preferring not to contribute to an online discussion.  If you wish to submit your comments in this way please email:


Results of the Review of CAS-IP and Future Scenarios of IP Management in the CGIAR

What will intellectual asset management look like in the new CGIAR?

As yet we don’t know.  But we do know that proper IP management is crucial to facilitate the exchange of CGIAR outputs as well as to support trust in collaborations, so it will not be ignored.  To inform the decisions that the new Consortium Office will be taking in the coming months, DGIS commissioned a review of our unit, and requested that it incorporate an in-depth look at IP management in agricultural development as a whole.  The result is one of the most comprehensive documents written on this topic.

But, the job is not done yet.  Although the review incorporates the views of many, we would like to initiate a broader discussion on IP and A4D (agriculture for development).  To this end, we have set up a public consultation process online.  All comments will be compiled and officially added to the report, we hope for use by the agricultural development community at-large.

Browse the results of the review HERE “Review Site” (includes executive summaries in French & Spanish)

Have your say and leave a comment HERE “Public Consultation of the Review”

For a one-page discussion document of the review click HERE “2010 Review of the Central Advisory Service for Intellectual Property (CAS-IP) and Future Scenarios of Intellectual Property Management in the CGIAR”

For those with low-bandwidth connections please click HERE for site map with no graphics.

Postgraduate Course: Biosafety in Plant Biotechnology

biosafety in plant biotechnology course, photo courtesy of Ine Pertry

Guat Hong Teh during her studies for the postgraduate Biosafety course at Ghent University.

Congratulations Guat Hong!!  We received news this week that Guat Hong Teh, Legal Specialist for CAS-IP has passed the Postgraduate Biosafety in Plant Biotechnology course from Ghent University, Belgium with an average of a high distinction.  I’d also like to take the opportunity to thank DGIS whose financial support to CAS-IP allows us to sponsor our staff’s career development.

Guat Hong sent me the following write-up to share her experience.

 “Slightly less than a year ago, I enrolled in a postgraduate course in biosafety with the University of Ghent and UNIDO. Now that I have completed the distance learning course, I would like to share my experience with all of you. The course is run online via an internet tool called Moodle where you are able to access your lecture notes, participate in e-forums with your other classmates and professors, access a library with reading materials, and upload assignments. There are several modules that one has to go through and every one of them has a mandatory exam (either oral/written/both), assignment, and e-discussions. Before finishing off, one needs to write a 25-page dissertation on a crop of interest from one’s home country. For me, oil palm was the obvious target and I managed to put together a summary of the methodology and risk assessment process for genetically-modified high-oleic oil palm. If you are interested to read my dissertation, drop me a note.

Back to further details on the course… The syllabus starts with principles of genetics and applications of biotechnology in general before progressing to the basis of scientific risk assessment for biotech crops (food/feed safety and environmental safety). It then concludes with modules on regulatory requirements and risk communication.

The faculty at Ghent is made up of international experts based in Europe, both full-time and part-time. All in all, I would say that the course provides the student with a good overview and understanding of the risk assessment process for genetically-modified organisms. Although it can be daunting for students without a scientific background to study for the course, this can be overcome with lots of interest and hard work. I would highly recommend it to scientists or lawyers who have an interest in this area. If you’re keen to find out more, or if you’re already convinced to register for the new intake in Ghent, see the attached flyer. Dr. Ine Pertry, who is the course coordinator in Ghent, would be more than happy to answer any questions that you may have on the course. Write to her at

Database of IP Practitioners in emerging and developing economies

As you may already know, CAS-IP facilitates a community of IP practitioners called the National Partners Initiative, the NPI.  Started in May 2007, the community consists of approximately 45 IP/TT practitioners, across many countries and regions, working together in a sustained manner to improve their individual skills and institutional capacities. The result is recognition and confidence that developing country IP professionals can serve the needs of agricultural institutions. This initiative provides a forum for exchange of IP practices, and stimulates the essential on-the-ground capacity and knowledge of Intellectual Property Management, Technology Transfer and IP issues. 

One of early start initiatives of the NPI was to create a database of IP practitioners in each of the NPI countries. The objective was to develop a consolidated resource of all the component parties of IP practice. This would include researchers, legal personnel, tech transfer and technology managers, farmers’ groups and civil organizations involved in innovation cycles.  Examples of contacts on the lists would be persons with expertise in contract drafting and negotiation, experience in application for trademarks in India, experience with Plant Variety Protection in Tanzania, etc. 

On an ongoing basis all members are encouraged to prepare and continually update this list.  The exercise has proved very useful, not only as a shared resource but also to those who have now taken the time to compile the list for their own country. 

photo by Shawn Landersz for CAS-IP
Dr Kalpana Sastry (NAARM) & Dr. Marilyn M. Belarmino (AVRDC) at NPI Annual Meeting, Washington D.C., June 2010

 The experience of one of the NPI partners, Dr Kalpana Sastry of NAARM, India indicates the utility of this tool in her office. Since its creation in 2007 she has used this ready reckoner database of practitioners of IP and technology management to:

  1.  identify relevant faculty and clientele for awareness programmes
  2. identify the specific areas for capacity building programmes
  3. engage the faculty in IP education programmes
  4. identify summer internship locations for students
  5. locate probable employers for graduating students
  6. collaborate in research proposals

The members of the NPI have unique networks of IP practitioners in developing or emerging economies.  The lists so far compiled are available for use by all the NPI members on our shared space.  Possible extended users of the data could include organisations seeking to commercialise an agricultural product in one of the participating countries, or donors/project managers seeking partners for advocacy to explore the use of IP tools such as trademarks, market segmentation, branding, as a means of creating more value for producers, especially small holder farmers and those that farm marginal areas.  For privacy reasons we cannot share the lists with external parties, however, we could arrange for information to be disseminated on a case-by-case basis.   

(Co-written by Kalpana Sastry, NAARM)    

“Highlights of CAS-IP” by Victoria Henson-Apollonio

Victoria wants to know if you are curious as to what she’s been up to for the past 10.5 years.  If so, take a look at her final seminar before she stepped down as the Manager of CAS-IP.  Warning:  It’s an hour in length!  You’ll need the following password to view the video clip.  “casip10yrs

 “Highlights of CAS-IP” by Victoria Henson-Apollonio

Password: casip10yrs

Exciting newsflash from CAS-IP!!!

We are delighted to announce that the new Manager of CAS-IP is Ms. Elise Perset.  Elise will have this role for one year. 

Ms. Perset comes to the CGIAR System from CIRAD where she has been since 2004.  Ms. Perset is currently CIRAD’s Legal Counsel for Contracts and Intellectual Property.  (CIRAD is the French Agricultural Research Center for International Development, whose mandate is to conduct research and development in the life and earth sciences, social sciences, and engineering sciences applied to agriculture, food and rural territories, in support developing countries, with a staff of 1800, including 800 researchers, an annual budget of >200 M € and operations in >100 countries.)

Elise has experience working in commercial law and she is a member of the New York Bar (U.S.) and the Paris Bar (Fr.), which means that Ms. Perset is a practitioner of both common law and civil law, a great expertise for the CGIAR, where we have a need for experience in both types of legal systems.

Ms. Perset has worked in the areas of technology transfer, partnership support, IP and genetic resources policy development, support to business development teams, and genetic resources.  With other CIRAD staff, she has developed tools in the area of IP and genetic resources (GENE-PI), which was further developed by FAO under the name GENE-IT for use in implementation of the multilateral system (MLS).

In addition to her duties at CIRAD, Elise is currently a lecturer in IP and Contract law at the Law School of the University of Montpellier, France.

Elise will start with the CGIAR System on the 6th of September.

We are so very pleased that we have such a skilled and experienced individual to lead the CAS-IP team and Office during the next year!

Licencing for development, FTO & questions for the future; Day #5 of the NPI meeting

Friday morning and it was another lovely day in DC (lovely to a person who is used to living in a very cloudy city).  Today is our last day (of course we can have meetings on own tomorrow) so let us say it is the last official day of our Annual NPI meeting.

We don’t know yet where destiny might take us from know but we are very confident the strong bonds built during the last three years will allow us to continue seeing each other and working together for many years.

So, we started today discussing a very interesting case (Mama Cares et al v. NutriSet) presented by Robert Chiavello and Kirby Drake from Fulbright (the legal firm working pro bono on the case).  Discussion surrounded patenting and licensing conditions/terms for therapeutic foods such as plumpy’nut (which is a peanut-based food for use in famine relief at the centre of the debate, see recent CAS-IP blog post). The dispute is mainly related to NutriSet’s philosophy of licensing (licensing the production to African partners for development) and patent infringement (it is not clear if Mama Cares et al will be free of any suits if producing a similar product in the US).  We’ll have to wait and see how the case develops since we could say from a legal perspective, it has just started… (Note from Kay:we will write a separate post dealing with this issue shortly)

Then we had a great lecture given by Michael Gollin on Freedom to Operate. Key steps for accessing innovation strategically were given. You can always buy it, go around it or fight it… At the end of the day, IP does not have to always be an obstacle! Michael provided a very sophisticated diagram on accessing an outsider’s innovation when access is not readily available.  Lots of creative ways there for achieving our goals.  Afterwards, very interesting input was provided by Marc since he shared CIP’s experience on FTO on weevil resistant sweetpotato.  Thanks Marc!

Next, a panel integrated by Silvia, Carolina, Marc, Michael and Victoria shared more experiences on FTO and funding terms and conditions. It was pointed out by Silvia that it is essential to know (and read!!) all agreements related to technology transfer.  We can not assume that IP issues are well understood by all actors involved in a project.  Therefore, a good practice is to raise all IP issues from the very beginning.  Then, Carolina raised the issue that national organizations are susceptible to be refused to get material from companies even though IPRs are not granted in the country.  At this point, although there may be FTO, it might just as well not be applicable in reality.  Subsequently, Victoria mentioned that there are some specific circumstances or elements (such as immunities) that need to be taken into account to understand the whole context of every project.   Michael then mentioned that most of the time it is by making a cost/analysis assessment that the best way of proceeding can be determined. Questions and comments were posed later on regarding “fair use”, use of traditional knowledge and genetic resources for research, disclosure requirement in patenting processes and patent landscapes.

After healthy and not so healthy meals, we talked a bit about the NPI Future.  As the NPI has evolved into a strong community of practitioners, we are searching for a new host/coordinator.  Our own participation as members is required for funding raising and we are determined to do so (you can be sure of this Peter).

Our day ended with a reception where we were able to talk to some of pro bono lawyers.   Well guys, let me quote Karine and say “Our work is not over, keep up with your workplans and see you all in six months!!”

Hasta la vista!!!

Post written by Pamela Ferro, National Partner in Peru (ESTUDIO GRAU)

USPTO, prior art & IP protection for plants in the US; Day #4 of the NPI meeting

The NPI week continued with a visit to the USPTO.  The building in itself started the day on an impressive note, as did the security system! The USPTO offices were built in 2005 and include five (5) buildings named in honour of important actors of patent history. 

The learning experience started at the Global Intellectual Property Academy with a general overview of the USPTOs history and function. We learned numerous interesting facts on the American history in general and on the subject of patents, i.e. that intellectual property goes back to the American Constitution written by the founding fathers.

We then spent some time with Mary Hale, supervisor in the electronic information centre, who took us through the prior art search systems. This presentation triggered many questions on the issue of the USPTO employees’ access to information and databases. Suggestions were then made by the participants concerning national databases that should be incorporated in the internet tools available to employees. It was obvious that it was crucial to them to avoid having the information on national resources overlooked in the research of prior art.

After lunch Anne Marie Grünberg, Supervisory Patent Examiner, presented “IP protection for plants in the US.” She took us through the three (3) types of protection available in the United Sates for plants: 1) the Plant Patent; 2) the Plant Variety Protection, and; 3) the Utility Patent. She then explained how and why these different protections are used. Anne Marie’s presentation and dynamism also sparked many questions from the NPI group. Questions were centered on the details of; whether it is common to apply for both a patent and PVP? (answer: in her experience, it was more common to apply for a plant utility patent and PVP) what does PVP offer that a utility patent does not? (answer: there are different advantages to these protections, for example, the scope of a utility patent can be broader, while it is less expensive in the long run to have PVP).  There was also discussion around the limitations to all these modes of protection, i.e. the farmers’ and breeders ‘exemption which does not exist under the Patent Act, while it is important in the PVPA. Personally, I was surprised to discover that research exemptions are absent from the US Patent Act, which makes the patent scope even larger in the United States. 

post written by Gabrielle Gagne, National Partner, Canada

Just to add, Hanumanth Rao had the opportunity to raise with the USPTO about the work that ICRISAT & CAS-IP have been working on with the EPO to have CGIAR materials included in their prior art searches.  See the information on the following link for more details of this:  Minna Moezie, the Attorney-Advisor who led the day’s proceedings invited Hanumanth to contact her directly so they can consider the possibilities. — Kay Chapman


USDA & plant variety protection proceedures; Day #3 of the NPI meeting

Although the day started with a whimper it ended with a bang as NPI participants left fully charged with new ideas.

 The plan for the day was to visit USDA to learn about its plant variety protection procedures through a series of presentations by USDA staff. However, our visit got delayed by a couple of hours because of the lack of transport to reach the USDA campus from the metro station. Luckily after an hour or so, some of us got the bright idea of hiring taxis and it worked.   

At USDA we got a terrific welcome “à l’Americaine” with plenty of good cheer, warmth and food.  Overall the visit was a great learning experience for all NPI participants as the presentations provided a window into the world of USDA plant variety protection program, germplasm system, international partnership, and technology transfer, licensing and patenting.

The first presentation was on U.S. Plant Variety Protection Office by Janice M. Strachan, Senior Examinor, Plant Variety Protection Office. She walked us through the entire process of how a plant variety protection certificate is obtained based on the rigorous criteria of: new, uniform, stable and distinct. It was interesting to learn that the number of applications for certificates has gone up from about a 100 to 500 per year, and the main demand relates to corn varieties for biofuel. 

Peter Bretting, National Program Leader, USDA, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Office of National Programs spoke on the USDA National Plant Germplasm System, which is one of the largest in the world holding about 534,000 samples of 13,400 plant species. Its Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) has now become a world reference.

Eileen Herrera, Deputy Director, USDA, ARS Office of International Research Programs made a presentation on Office of International Research Programs. She emphasized the similarities between CGIAR and the USDA ARS and highlighted the recent ARS-CGIAR Meeting to explore collaboration on how both the organizations can strategically address food security in the changing global agricultural research environment.

The ARS Office of Technology Transfer was introduced by Diana Tucker. The main functions of this department are marketing, patenting, and licensing as well as agreements such as MTA and confidentiality. The activities are conducted on the assumptions that IP protection is a necessary incentive for private investment in financially risky innovations and that the private sector delivery of products and services is often the most effective and efficient means of technology transfer.

Overall the presentations were clear and well-structured. The lively exchange of questions and answers following the presentations stimulated the discussions. As Lucas put it:

 “What USDA is doing in IP is very impressive and we have a lot to learn from them.”

Post written by Savitri Mohapatra, (NPI participant from AfricaRice)