Tag Archives: development

Tips for Negotiating Public-Private Collaborations

My attention was drawn to this piece of news recently through the FS-Ag Biotech news portal. CIMMYT has entered into a partnership with Syngenta “to focus on the development and advancement of technology in wheat, the most internationally traded food crop and the single largest food import in developing countries. The agreement will entail joint research and development in the areas of native and GM traits, hybrid wheat and the combination of seeds and crop protection to accelerate plant yield performance.”

I sent the news to Carolina Roa, the IP manager of CIMMYT, and asked if she has tips to share with the IP community in putting together this collaboration. She had the following to say:

“To me there are a couple of key aspects…
1) having clear the centre’s expectations, needs and justifications before entering the collaboration;
2) knowing what it can contribute to the collaboration in terms of assets and looking for complementing and enhancing those assets with the ones of the collaborator;
3) having clear what it wants to deliver, to whom and how (the strategies to do it); and
4) put all these things clearly at the table when the dialogue/discussion with the possible collaborator starts.

Any potential collaborator…will appreciate that, as it facilitates, clarifies and speeds up the process. Something that we’ve found particularly helpful is to articulate these things in a key terms document that will be the basis for the discussion with the potential collaborator…Getting agreement on the key terms document takes away some of the pressure of discussing and entering into a full agreement upfront. The potential parties are more relaxed about discussing, commenting on such a document than on an already made collaboration agreement.”

I think the tips by Carolina are very useful and right on point. We speak of public-private collaborations all the time and how we need to encourage more partnerships in this direction for the benefit of small-scale developing country farmers and creating more public goods. I am sure that many out there who are reading our blog have interesting negotiation experiences to share and I encourage you to use the comment boxes below to let us know your set of tips when negotiating collaborations.

Post written by Guat Hong Teh, Legal Specialist for CAS-IP

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WIPO; 2009 international patent filing figures (under the PCT)

Last month WIPO released 2009 figures on levels of international patent filings under WIPO’s Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).  Visit the WIPO site HERE for some analysis and key data, as well as the video/audio press conference address by Mr. Francis Gurry, DG of WIPO.

With regards to developing country activity the item quoted Mr. Gurry as saying:

“”In implementing the WIPO Development Agenda, WIPO is working very closely with member states to develop and roll-out projects that will enable all countries to reap the benefits of innovation and the knowledge economy” said Mr. Gurry.  “In this context, maximizing participation in the PCT is a key priority.  Membership of the PCT offers an opportunity for countries to bring their national patenting processes in line with international standards helping to create a more attractive investment environment.  It further offers local companies a cost-effective means of obtaining patent protection in multiple countries” he added. “

IP issues in the launch of MASA – The Malawi Seed Alliance

Peter Bloch, consultant to CAS-IP, is on the road in Africa working on several ICRISAT projects.  He sent the following update:

On behalf of CAS I’ve been working with ICRISAT over the last year on the Irish Aid funded Malawi Seed Industry Development project, and we decided to launch a stakeholder alliance to support the work – making certified legume seed more widely available.

While small holder farmers in Malawi now purchase maize seed every year, most legumes are still grown from farm-saved seed (grain).  Experience suggests that trust in the source is a major factor in the adoption of new varieties and new crops.  In order to support small new seed companies and new seed retailers (mostly agrodealers), we proposed the development of an umbrella brand which could be used by all stakeholders in the supply and distribution chains.  ICRISAT agreed, and this plan will be supported by a marketing campaign to let farmers know about the benefit of buying certified seed and where they can buy it.

The issue I am very focused on right now is a practical application of my response to Ethiopia’s G.I. legislation (https://casipblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/22/ethiopia’s-gi-bill/) as follows:

It would be highly desirable to allow agrodealers who have passed through one of ICRISAT’s Seed Production and Marketing programs to display the MASA logo with a caption such as “MASA certified seed dealer”.  But as this branding exercise is all about trust and reliability, how can we ensure that a dealer does not pass grain off as certified seed by using one of the MASA branded seed bags we plan to distribute?  A few days ago I went out to Kasungu and discussed this with a group of five agrodealers who had participated in the first training.

Agrodealers in Malawi

Standing, from left : Elias Mpumila, Noel J. Sambo, Mathews Malata. Seated, from left : Mary Kazombo, Goodwin Kasale.

When I asked them about the “trust” issue, they made these observations:

  • the success of our businesses depends on our relationships with the farming community;
  • if we sell our customers a product which does not perform we risk losing business;
  • it is very much in our interests to make sure customers are satisfied with the products and services they buy from us.

This makes a lot of sense but does not rule out the odd scofflaw who decides to profit by selling grain in a seed bag marked with the MASA logo as certified seed.  One of the Alliance partners – NASFAM – proposed that we trade mark the MASA logo and name;  we had planned to do this, but – as in the case of Ethiopia – we will not have any enforcement mechanisms, so the risk factor needs further consideration.

Several days after writing the above, I met with another group in Dwangwa who had formed an agrodealer association.  They had invited two tribal chiefs to join the discussion and it soon became evident that the association viewed entry into the seed market as a significant development for the local economy.  When I raised our concern about possible misuse of the MASA branded seed bags, the two chiefs responded by telling me that this would not happen – they would raise the issue at community meetings.  After further discussion it became evident that informal “self-policing” would take place in this area and that we could encourage similar activity in other regional markets.

As the benefits so far outweigh the risks, we are moving ahead to trade mark the MASA brand, develop a license agreement and signage for the agrodealers, and ensure that appropriate MASA-branded seed bags are ordered prior to the harvest.

Post written by Peter Bloch, consultant to CAS-IP

CAS-IP submission to DoJ’s exploration of seed industry concentration

In August 2009, the US Department of Justice (DoJ), together with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a series of workshops intended to “explore competition and regulatory issues in the agriculture industry”. –  Agriculture and Antitrust Enforcement Issues in Our 21st Century Economy – will enquire into agriculture and into the dairy, poultry and livestock industries.  One of several workshops that has been scheduled will take place in Iowa and address “…seed technology, vertical integration, market transparency and buyer power”.

These hearings will ask if mergers and acquisitions have reduced competition in the US seed industry.  While this enquiry is US centric, CAS-IP, in its role to assist the CGIAR and its constituency of resource-poor farmers, argues that the availability of seed to poor farmers is critical to current and future food security.  This is no longer a national issue, and the food security of developing nations is of great concern to the US and to other developed nations.  By way of example, at the July, 2009 L’Aquila Summit President Obama made a powerful statement of support for agricultural development in developing countries:

“We have committed to investing $20 billion in food security — agricultural development programs to help fight world hunger.  This is in addition to the emergency humanitarian aid that we provide.  And I should just note…we had agreed to $15 billion; we exceeded that mark and obtained an additional $5 billion of hard commitments.  We do not view this assistance as an end in itself.  We believe that the purpose of aid must be to create the conditions where it’s no longer needed — to help people become self-sufficient, provide for their families, and lift their standards of living.”

Based on 2006 revenues the ETC Group estimates that the top ten global seed companies control 47% of the global proprietary seed market.  Of the top 10, three are US based and control 40% of the global proprietary seed market.  Any reduction of competition within the US will impact agriculture and, potentially, food security in the developing world.  Our submission to the DoJ argues, therefore, that the investigation be expanded and reference the impacts of reduced competition and the concentration of IP ownership within the US seed industry on developing countries.

Over the last year, our System Dynamics Modeling team has been studying the seed sector in several African countries and prepared a case study of the seed sector in Malawi.  This analysis, which supports our contention that reduced competition may have negative impact on agriculture in developing countries, is an integral part of the CAS submission to DoJ.

With support from PIIPA, Pillsbury Law provided pro bono legal consultations on the preparation of the submission, which was delivered on December 31st.  The document can be downloaded at http://www.cas-ip.org/resources/publications/publications-impact-of-seed-company-competition-on-access/

The paper is authored by Guat Hong Teh, Sebastian Derwisch, Victoria Henson-Apollonio and Peter Bloch of the CGIAR Central Advisory Service on Intellectual Property (CAS-IP).  The authors would like to acknowledge the contributions of Donna O. Perdue of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP.

Post written by Peter Bloch, consultant to CAS-IP

Father of Grass Root Innovation: Prof. Anil K. Gupta and His Ideologies

Special thanks to Sahida Kamri who is a blogger on the Gen-X blog – a blog created by the budding IP and technology management professionals of India. Bloggers are students of PGD-IPTMA Course, National Academy of Agricultural Research Management (NAARM), India.  The following post was written and submitted by Sahida Kamri for the CAS-IP blog:

Father of Grass Root Innovation: Prof. Anil K. Gupta and His Ideologies

Prof. Anil K. GuptaProfessor Anil Kumar Gupta, a senior faculty at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad is successfully blending knowledge of grassroot innovators with corporate houses.  He is the executive vice-chairman of NIF (National Innovation Foundation).  In an interview with The Wall Street Journal | India he talks about cross-pollination work of grassroots innovations, ideas on globalization, technology commons and his experience with big industries as well as Government.  The persistent and dedicated work of NIF under his leadership has more than 120,000 grass root innovations and traditional knowledge practices.  These are documented from fields such as agriculture, animal and human medicines, herbal drugs, mechanical devices, rural technologies from the informal and unorganized sector of rural and urban India.  Prof. Anil K Gupta’s contribution for grass root innovators and rural people has been also recently discussed in the blog Gen – X ideas on IP.

How did it start?

In 1986, after a tour of Bangladesh Prof. Anil K Gupta seriously thought about helping poor rural people.  He worked hard to create recognition and awareness around the importance of grass root innovators in the formal system.  He also took the initiative to document traditional knowledge, some of which is now on the edge of extinction.  This vision developed into the National Innovation Foundation. Established under the Department of Science and technology, Government of India on 28th February, 2000, the main aim being to scout, document and scale sustainable innovations, and to help innovators from the informal sector get their products to market through incubation and business development.  NIF helps in protecting Intellectual Property rights of grass-root innovators and documents their various innovations and traditional practices.  It also helps in the technology transfer of suitable technologies.  57 technologies have been already licensed.  The former President of India Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam has been a great supporter and guide to NIF since its inception and highly appreciates Prof. A.K. Gupta’s efforts.  A database of innovations and medicinal plants in various languages is maintained by NIF.  Two appendages of NIF are SRISTI and GIAN which provide complete support to it in all its activities.

Shodh Yatra – A journey to reach knowledge

More than ten years ago Prof. Anil K Gupta learned about a creative idea called “Shodh Yatra”, one he has continued.  Shodh Yatra is a journey on foot through the remote areas of India for the exploration of knowledge, creativity and innovations at grassroots.  The main aim of the journey is to understand and document traditional knowledge and grassroots innovations that have not only simplified the lives of men, women and farm workers but have also significantly contributed towards the conservation of bio-diversity. Prof. Gupta used to conduct Shodh Yatra twice in a year especially in summer and winter to share knowledge across rural India. Our Organization NAARM (National Academy of Agricultural Research Management) with NIF had organized Shodh Yatra (we called it Gyan Shodh) for students of PGD IPTMA (Post Graduate Diploma in Intellectual Property and Technology Management). It was a great experience and learning for us, the report of the Gyan Shodh is available on the internet. His work and noble thought inspired us to join the Shodh Yatra.

India is really blessed having a son like Prof. Anil K. Gupta.  He is a true role model to be followed by the youth of nation.  His many ideologies such as respect to traditional practices as well as grass root innovations, belief in sustainable technologies etc match with that of the Father of Nation – Mahatma Gandhi.  He works for India but his essence of work has spread globally.

An alternative to the IMF? The Emerging Monetary Fund

Simon Johnson, Chief Economist at the IMF from March 2007 to August 2008, writes in the October 19th issue of Business Week that:

“To be effective, an international lending organization must be trusted by potential borrowers”. 

Unfortunately, many developing countries do not trust the IMF, and Johnson proposes the creation of a new entity – an EMF, or Emerging Monetary Fund.

Johnson’s proposes that

“The EMF would be like your friendly neighborhood physician; the IMF could run intensive care”.

Read his rationale in the Business Week article, “An IMF Just for Emerging Markets”

Post written by Peter Bloch, consultant to CAS-IP

“The role of intellectual property (IP) in sustainable Agriculture”

http://www.ifad.org/events/op/2009/wipo.htm
Today’s lead link is to a statement given by the President of IFAD at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Conference on Intellectual Property and Public Policy Issues that was held this year during July in Geneva.

The statement is well worth a read.  Despite being relatively short it mentions a pretty comprehensive list of topics:

  • Linking Intellectual Property Rights to sustainable agriculture
  • The uniqueness of agriculturally related IPRs
  • Moving from the public-private divide to public-private partnerships
  • Tools and tactics for encouraging pro-poor research and keeping innovation results in the public domain
  • Protective publishing in agricultural research
  • Traditional knowledge and ethical obligations
  • Encouraging pro-poor innovation

CAS-IP were also mentioned in the statement:

“…CGIAR’s Central Advisory Service on Intellectual Property (CAS-IP) has many years of experience in negotiating equitable conditions and finding solutions to the hurdles that come up.”

Thanks to Hanumanth Rao, IP Manager at ICRISAT  for sending this link.