Category Archives: Uncategorized

Seed Business Development Officer; post open at AFSTA in Nairobi

I thought this announcement I received via email today might be of interest to some of our readers.

The African Seed Trade Association, based in Nairobi, are looking for a Seed Business Development Officer who will:

  • Engineer and manage activities related to seed demand creation and productivity improvements;
  • Promote the emergence of new seed businesses;
  • Foster existing seed companies through technical backstopping and business management consulting at national and regional levels;
  • Map out all key organizations with complementary roles with AFSTA and liaise with them;
  • Work closely with AFSTA projects’ partners such as COMESA, ECOWAS, USAID, ASARECA, among others;
  • Help AFSTA stakeholders with their seed business development project proposals;
  • Develop AFSTA’s position on issues related to seed business development in Africa;
  • Develop and implement AFSTA seed business development strategic plan;
  • Provide tools that will empower African seed companies to take advantage of opportunities for seed business development;
  • Manage the seed business development revolving funds in liaison with the National Seed Trade Associations’ Seed Business Development officers.

The deadline is 28th Feb 2011, full details are available in a document posted on their website HERE.


Hon: Storm in a teacup?

The word “hon” (=honey) has been part of Baltimore, Maryland’s lexicon for decades, and it’s an inherent part of the city’s working-class roots.  But now locals have learned their favorite term of endearment has been trademarked for commercial use by a local businesswoman, and some are protesting the co-opting of what they say is a “Baltimore thing.”

You can read or listen to the story at “Baltimoreans to Businesswoman: Not So Fast , Hon

If an entrepreneur appropriating “public domain IP” were reported from anywhere in the developing world, there would be a lot of action. When a UK company tried to trademark the Kenyan word kikoi (common name for a skirt or wrap), a coalition of NGOs filed an objection and the application was subsequently rejected.”Kikoi TM case

Bruce Goldfarb, a Baltimore blogger, has written at length on the subject in The Hon Manifesto.  He believes that:

Whiting’s claim to exclusive commercial rights to “hon” unreasonably inhibits speech and restrains business.

And that:

Denise Whiting does not have a valid trademark on “hon.” She is a bully, trampling the linguistic commons.

What is particularly interesting about this case is that public outrage has been channeled through a variety of social media, and a Facebook event is in the works.  But Denise Whiting has only been granted protection for the word in four categories (retail gift shops, paper goods, clothing and restaurant services) and the local angst may be a storm in a teacup.

Post written by Peter Bloch

Follow up on US Seed Concentration Continues – Seed Concentration in South Africa

Following up on the post from Peter Bloch on the further concentration of the US seed industry,”US seed industry concentration continues.”

The US based seed company Pioneer Hi-Bred has acquired a majority share of the South African seed company Pannar.   Pioneer announced this in September 2010 but is still awaiting the regulatory approval from South Africa.  Pannar is one of the few successful African seed companies operating on a multinational scale.

Pioneer´s aquisition of a majority share of Pannar increases the market share of multinational companies in the South African seed market to about 90%.  This illustrates how the increased market power of a few seed and biotech companies also impacts competition in developing countries as they seek opportunities to expand in different markets.

Post written by Sebastian Derwisch, consultant to CAS-IP

Deadline extended for SIDA genetic resources and IPR training

Deadline for applications is now 31st January 2011

Since 2003 the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) has been running an advanced international training programme “Genetic Resources and Intellectual Property Rights” (GRIP).  This year the training will take place May 2nd – May 20th (in Sweden) with the regional  workshop taking place in November. 

Click here to download the brochure of information.

“…the IPR and other legal instruments controlling access and transfers of genetic resources are increasingly complex, the literature is vast and incomprehensive, models are complex, and options are many. Thus, policy makers, scientists and other practitioners especially in resource poor countries face a considerable challenge in formulating IPR policies and negotiating appropriate agreements.

Application form. Click to download

Recognising this fact, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences/SLU with the assistance of Stockholm Environment Institute and Svalöf Consulting AB are offering a unique ’IPR/Genetic Resources Programme’ comprising three weeks course work, intermediate personal change project in home country and one week follow up regional seminar.”

For more information please visit the website or download a copy of the information brochure.  Remember the deadline for applications is 31st January 2011.

Deadline for applications is now 31st January 2011. 

EPO overturns plant biotech patents

A blog post: “Controversial plant biotech patents overturned” talked about the important news about the EPO recently overturning two controversial patents for broccoli and tomato varieties, varieties that were produced using conventional breeding techniques. Genetic markers were used to breed the desired traits. Nature say:

“According to EU law, biological processes for the production of plants or animals are not allowed to be patented. But the law regards marker-assisted selection as a technical process, and therefore patentable. The broccoli and tomato patents were awarded on this basis…

…After years of appeals and hearings, the cases reached the EPO’s Enlarged Board of Appeal, its highest level of jurisdiction. In a ruling on 9 December, the board agreed with industry that the patents covered the whole selection and breeding process and therefore should not be allowed…

..This decision does not affect the patentability of inventions or technical steps such as genetic markers”

The news was also reported on the EPO site “No European patents for essentially biological breeding processes

“The EPO’s Enlarged Board of Appeal has now rendered its decisions in the so-called “broccoli” (G 2/07) and “tomato” (G 1/08) cases, bearing on the correct interpretation of the term “essentially biological processes for the production of plants (or animals)” used in the European Patent Convention (EPC) to exclude such processes from patentability.

The Enlarged Board of Appeal is the highest instance in the EPO’s judiciary and, as all other Boards of Appeal of the EPO, acts in full independence of the Office in carrying out its duties. Its task is to ensure a uniform application of the patent law under the EPC.”

For more info:

The battle of the broccoli and tomatoes

Broccoli and tomato patents – European Patent Office

Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources

Various news was posted back in October on the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization.  One was from Bioversity International “Bioversity welcomes Nagoya Protocol“.  A later update included a short interview with Michael Halewood, head of the Policy & Law Unit at Bioversity International

The interviewer asked about the implications of the Protocol on the International Treaty, in particular the Multilateral System (MLS) for access and benefit-sharing.  Michael Halewood explains that the fear was the protocol might ignore the Treaty, but that, in the end, language was used in the final agreement “adequately recognized the International Treaty”. 

I also asked Peter Munyi, Legal Counsel at ICIPE (and former consultant to CAS-IP) what his reactions to the Protocol were.  He had the following to say:

“With a Protocol on access and benefit sharing of genetic resources having been adopted in October in Nagoya, focus now shifts on ratification, acceptance and approval. The protocol opens for signature on 2nd February 2011. The speed at which countries will move to deposit their instruments of ratification and approval of the protocol will the indicative of whether the compromises made in Nagoya have gone down well in the capitals of the negotiators.

It will also be interesting to see how the adopted protocol will in future shape discussions and negotiations on genetic resources, traditional knowledge and access and benefit sharing that are taking place at the FAO, WIPO and WHO. Work has already been cut out for the inter-sessional intergovernmental committee in preparation for the first meeting of the parties to the protocol, which in the earliest will take place in 2012 in India during COP 11.

There still remain a number of unsettled issues, including what the internationally recognized certificate will look like, the global multi-lateral benefit-sharing mechanism. However, before we start thinking about these issues all over again, it would be useful if we could start by congratulating all the negotiators for tireless work that has finally borne fruit, not forgetting the able leadership provided by Fernando Cassas and Tim Hodges to the process.”

You can access the protocol text from the upload.

For more opinions on the agreement see:

Meeting review: TK at CBD COP 10” from TK bulletin,

Mixed reactions on new access and benefit sharing treaty” from TWN 

BIO’s take on the CBD Nagoya Protocol” from PatentlyBIOTech.

FREE Access to The Journal of Technology Transfer until end of Nov 2010

Access is FREE online to the Journal of Technology Transfer until 30th November 2010.  Visit the following link for more details:

According to the webiste:

The Journal of Technology Transfer, the Official Journal of the Technology Transfer Society, provides an international forum for the exchange of ideas that enhance and build an understanding of the practice of technology transfer. In particular, it emphasizes research on management practices and strategies for technology transfer.

I choose a couple of articles from the most recent listings that I thought might be of interest:

But hurry! The offer will end soon!!

(thanks to Victoria Henson-Apollonio for sending me the link)

Google and Privacy Issues

Google is no stranger to criticism about privacy issues, the most recent of which concerned data “accidentally” collected as part of the Google Street View project.  The news was reported on the BBC “Privacy body to re-examine Google

 “Britain’s privacy watchdog is to look again at what personal information internet giant Google gathered from private wi-fi networks… Google had “accidentally” grabbed data from unsecured hotspots for years as its Street View cars captured images of street scenes. In total it is thought to have grabbed about 600 gigabytes of data.”

The concerns mounted as it surfaced the data included emails and passwords.  An interesting comment that was included in the article from a radio phone-in, the caller had questioned individuals who do not secure their networks and then complain that their privacy is breached.  Of course we have a responsibility to make sure our data is secure – and stories like this one serve as a reminder of our own responsibilities.  However, Google knows a lot about its users and given their product improvements depend on this knowledge they need us to trust them!  To their credit they appear to take this responsibility seriously – they even have a team of engineers dedicated to help users control the personal details held in Google products – see

I like to pay attention to stories like these, as privacy issues are of interest when considering the managing of information and intellectual assets.

“Who owns the genes of the forest trees?”

trees image from stock xchngI was interested to learn that the question of who owns the genes of forest trees has no clear legal definition.  See the Press Release from an event connected with EURFORGEN[1] entitled “Who owns the genes of the forest trees?

“Is it the owner of the tree, the owner of the land or perhaps the finder of the propagating material who gains the ownership right?”

The press release went on to say (emphasis is my own):

“Carl Gustav Thornström of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences … had warned that we are moving towards too much political correctness on this whole genetic resources issue without proper regard to practicality… He made a plea for far better training of people in the interface between law and genetics so that perhaps new thinking could be applied to resolving these forest genetic conundrums.”

In addition to the materials on the EUFORGEN site there was a background paper prepared for the FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture entitled: “The Use and Exchange of Forest Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

The hope is that some legal frameworks on access and benefit sharing (including forest resources) might be delivered during the latest rounds of the CBD meetings taking place this month in Japan.

(thanks Karine Malgrand for sending the EURFORGEN link to me)

[1] “EUFORGEN is a collaborative programme among European countries to promote conservation and sustainable use of forest genetic resources.”

New CEO of the CGIAR Consortium Announced

Last night we recieved the news via email that the new CEO of the CGIAR Consortium had been decided.  The CGIAR Change Management blog posted an interview.

The Consortium Board of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) has appointed Pioneer senior manager for sustainable agriculture and development as chief executive officer of the new Consortium.

Lloyd Le Page currently leads the Sustainable Agriculture and Development division of Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business. Lloyd is a British citizen whose parents were missionaries in Africa. After obtaining a bachelor of science degree, he then spent several years running farms in Southern Africa. During that period, he was deeply involved in many parts of the value chain ensuring that farmers’ produce reached consumers, a new facet of the CGIAR reform. He then joined Pioneer and ran a number of successful supply operations in Africa, eventually running the supply management operations in Africa for Pioneer and gaining experience in linking the private sector with farmers in the developing world. In 2004 Lloyd moved  to the Pioneer head office in Des Moines, Iowa to establish Pioneer sustainable development activities.

Lloyd has had a successful career and brings with him a great deal of partnership and practical experience at the local, regional and global levels. He has gained the trust and confidence of many of the stakeholders that make up the CGIAR community and has been consulted by some of the CGIAR centers in the development of consortium research programs. Above all, he brings a fresh vision to the CGIAR and a great deal of commitment and enthusiasm for contributing to fulfill the objectives and vision of the reform process. Le Page is married with 2 children and currently lives in Des Moines, Iowa”

We at CAS-IP would like to extend our congratulations.  Of course we are also waiting with bated breath to see what direction IP management strategy in the new CGIAR is going to take.  I asked the CAS team (some of whom have worked with Lloyd in the past) what they thought about the appointment:

“CAS-IP would like to congratulate Mr. Lloyd Le Page on his new appointment. We look forward to working with him and to providing input with regard to intellectual property management issues, particularly in the context of the strategic partnerships (CRPs) currently being set up, in order to ensure that the public goods produced have maximum impact.” Elise Perset, Manager of CAS-IP

“I have worked with Lloyd.  He understands intellectual property and the role that it plays in agricultural development.”Peter Bloch, consultant to CAS-IP

“Congratulations to Lloyd and welcome to the CG! It`s great to have someone with so much experience in transactions and partnerships heading up the Consortium office.” Sebastian Poehlmann, consultant to CAS-IP