Tag Archives: market development

Branding stories; WIPO new online brand-search tool and Coca Cola

WIPO have launched another new tool this month.  See “WIPO Launches New On-Line Tool to Facilitate Brand Searches“. From their press release:

“A new on-line tool launched by WIPO … will make it easier to search over 640,000 records relating to internationally protected trademarks, appellations of origin and armorial bearings, flags and other state emblems as well as the names, abbreviations and emblems of intergovernmental organizations. The Global Brand Database allows free of charge, simultaneous brand-related searches across multiple collections.”

Thanks to WIPO for another free resource.  It is part of WIPO Gold, a “free public resource which provides a one-stop gateway to WIPO’s global collections of searchable IP data”

And the Coca Cola reference?  Well, whilst on the subject of brands, I was reading the Intellectual Asset Management blog.  They posted an item: “The Coca-Cola brand suffers a sharp fall in value as Google hits number one

Love it or loathe it, no matter where in the world you are, the chances of finding Coca Cola are pretty high.  It was interesting to read therefore that

“for the first time [Coca Cola] finds itself outside the list of the world’s top 10 most valuable brands, according to the annual Brand Finance 500 study”

The article concludes:

“…although there is a lot more to brands than trademarks, it does means that if you are working in-house as a trademark operator, the job that you are doing is absolutely vital to the maintenance (as well as the creation, of course) of profoundly important assets. I am sure that this is not huge news to the trademark practitioners reading this blog, but I wonder how many other people appreciate it. My suspicion is that it is not as many as should be the case.”

Not to be confused with corporate social responsibility; “For Pepsi, a business decision with social benefit”

A New York Times article entitled, “For Pepsi, a business decision with social benefit” told the story of a new venture involving Mexican farmers selling their crops to PepsiCo. 

 “PepsiCo’s work with the corn farmers reflects a relatively new approach by corporations trying to maintain a business edge while helping out small communities and farmers… The social benefits of the corn program are obvious in higher incomes that have improved nutritional and educational standards among the participating farmers, … but PepsiCo insists those benefits are ancillary to the business rationale for the program”

The article then goes on to list some other examples of creative business models that are able to satisfy the “triple bottom line” – interestingly even with products that are “profit-neutral” but that provide valuable intelligence about new and emerging markets.

The article made me smile quoting a spokesman from Dalberg Global Development Advisors who talked about corporate social responsibility (CSR) being “largely nonsense”.  Agreed — business models need to be a lot cleverer than relying on corporate consciousness to satisfy the complex goals of development.  This article highlighted another example of out-to-box thinking in ag development.

I sent the post to Peter Bloch to see what he thought and he said:

“Renowned economist Michael Porter participated in one of the main panel discussions at the World Economic Forum along with the CEOs of PepsiCo and Nestle.  Porter spoke out against Fair Trade.  His rationale was that Fair Trade is/was driven by a perceived need to pay small holder farmers a living wage irrespective of their efficiency.  This approach appealed to corporate CSR managers.  Porter described Nestle’s approach: Why is the small farmer poor?  Because he cannot grow enough (poor inputs, no mechanization) and the quality is poor.  So we will help him to grow more, higher quality food which we will buy at market prices.

This takes developing country poverty alleviation out of the Corporate Social Responsibility department into the business mainstream, and the approach – developing market-driven value chains – is consistent with the latest thinking at USAID and other donors.

(Thanks to Victoria Henson-Apollonio for sending me the original NYT link)

What’s in a name? Know the value of your IP

On December 8th, an auction of inactive trade marks took place in New York.  According to NPR’s Marketplace:

Michael Reich owns Brands USA Holdings, the company selling the trademarks. He says old brand names can be used to sell new products, anchor a website or tap into the growing market for kitsch, you know, T-shirts and tchotchkes with vintage logos.

You can read or listen to the story at:


These marks are often referred to as “zombie brands”.  They are inactive – think Circuit City, Sharper Image and Brim (as in “Fill it to the rim – with Brim”). Marketers who recognize the inherent value are breathing new life into these, and other storied brand names.

You can read more on Businessweek.com “Imation Brings Dead Brands Back to Life

What is remarkable is that:

Memorex dropped its signature TV ads, with their “Is it live or is it Memorex?” tagline, more than 30 years ago. And yet…research surveys showed that 95% of U.S. consumers knew the name, even among people in their 30s.

The message is simple:  know the value of your IP, whether it be patents, trade marks – or brand names.

Post written by Peter Bloch

The Plumpy’nut patent: well protected but now also widely available in the developing world

This has been sitting on my desk for a while.  One of the reasons I waited before blogging it was I wanted to see what others in the online community were going to make of the news. 

Many of you will remember the saga of the Plumpy’nut patent.  The web was literally buzzing during 2010 with news about the Plumpy’nut patent.  The high profile articles included the Andrew Rice article in the New York Times, and Jeffrey Sachs in the Huffington Post.  For previous CAS-IP posts on the subject visit: https://casipblog.wordpress.com/?s=plumpy

So the update is this;  in October Nutriset announced that a “Patent Usage Agreement” is now available online for the Plumpy’nut patent.  What does this mean?  Well, providing some basic requirements are met, anyone can download a Patent User Agreement to produce and distribute the product.

 “It allows a company or an organization to manufacture, market and distribute products covered by Nutriset/IRD patents. Eligible entities wishing to do so, can subscribe simply and quickly, in just a few clicks online, a Patents Usage Agreement”

I downloaded a copy of the agreement which can be viewed here. https://casipblog.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/patent-user-agreement-plumpynut.pdf

The requirements for eligibility are pretty basic.  You need to be a legal entity based in one of the developing countries where the patent has been filed (of course where there is no patent filed no licence is required anyway).  There is no compulsory fee to be paid, although IRD do “invite” a 1% of sales turnover be contributed towards research work.

What has the online community said about this announcement?   Not a lot from the searches I did, and from my RSS feeds….  Which is a shame as it certainly seems that Nutriset are trying to honor their commitment to make this product accessible and available – and there was a lot of negative media attention earlier in the year to the contrary. 

From the CAS-IP perspective it’s an interesting turn in the story.  In my first post on this topic I wrote:

“…the argument that underpins this, and many other similar stories [is that] IP relating to a product with a humanitarian nature should somehow be “handled differently””

 And indeed the “Online Patent User Agreement” is handling things differently.  I will be sure to blog any updates on this.

Technology transfer in sub-Saharan Africa, IPRs, development and the WIPO Agenda

I should have referenced this item some months ago, but it slipped my attention when it was published back in August on IP Watch.  (I think I was probably off on holiday!)  “The Relationship Between IP, Technology Transfer, and Development“.  Today I spotted the item cross posted on other blogs (thanks CTA and Zunia!)

The author, Cheikh Kane writes:

“In order to better understand the link between intellectual property rights, technology transfer and development, an analysis was recently conducted of the expectations of developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, of technology transfer.”

Interestingly he notes:

“The analysis shows that in order to foster development through technology, it is necessary to put into place an efficient and flexible intellectual property rights system and to promote local innovation.”

I wasn’t able to find the text of the analysis he spoke about, possibly it was in French originally?  If anyone has the link I would be grateful if they could add it to the comments section.

For more info on the WIPO Development agenda visit “Development Agenda for WIPO“.  Including details of the 45 adopted recommendations.

The author sums up by saying:

“The adoption of a Development Agenda by WIPO has to integrate the notion that intellectual property should serve first and foremost the promotion and protection of local innovation. The international intellectual property system as it is devised is not doing enough to support local inventiveness.”

USAID latest commitment to global food security; remarks to the World Food Prize Conference

Earlier this month at the World Food Prize Conference held in Des Moines, the USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah made a speech.  “USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah speaks at the 2010 World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogue

Here are some extracts that I thought might be of interest:

“…we are focused on global food security in a way that, we have not been since the earliest days of the Green Revolution.

“…we are also working with the Consultative Group of International Agricultural Research, or CGIAR, to support their new “megaprograms.” These programs focus on high‐potential research into new seed varieties, effective agricultural policy reforms, and better water and soil management practices. We doubled our investment in these megaprograms, making us the single largest supporter of CGIAR.”

He then went on to announce:

“…today I’m unveiling the Feed the Future Private Investment Center; a new public‐private partnership hub…

This hub will expand on existing relationships with multinationals and local businesses, and facilitate engagement with new private sector partners. Companies interested in joining this effort can e-mail us at ftfbusinesshub@usaid.gov.”

According to an article on America.gov, “Green Revolution Within Reach in Africa

“USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah said free markets and private investment are key elements of the Obama administration’s Feed the Future program, aimed at reducing hunger. He told the participants at the Borlaug Dialogue that a new Feed the Future Private Investment Center will begin operation in the program’s original 20 countries, 16 of which are in Africa.
Shah said that in Tanzania, for example, the Private Investment Center will offer loan guarantees to local firms that sell farmers seeds and process and transport their harvested crops. Shah said the guarantees equip the companies “with the spark they need to mature their businesses and grow their country.”

For more information:
Feed the Future

(sample implementation plans: NIGERIA. FY 2010 Implementation Plan
KENYA. FY 2010 Implementation Plan)

The World Food Prize

(Thanks to Victoria for sending me the link to the speech)

EMRC Agribusiness Forum

Last week I attended this major Africa-centric event in Kampala, Uganda.  The theme of the Forum was “Food Security: A Business Opportunity”, and the focus was on creating new business partnerships to boost, innovate and revamp the African agro-food sector.  The event was attended by NGOs and government, and the private sector was represented by investors, entrepreneurs and banking.

You can find the program, along with speaker and other information, at:


The general consensus was that the sector still lacks financing options and that this is a major constraint on growth, especially in light of the fact that interest on bank loans, if they are available, is around 20%.  As one of many examples, tomatoes do very well in Uganda and this year’s crop was so bountiful that there was a glut on the market and prices crashed.  Yet the ketchup served at my hotel was imported from Egypt.  This is one of many examples of a missed opportunity – Uganda could be processing tomatoes for distribution throughout East and Southern Africa.

There are entrepreneurs with vision in the agrodealer sector, but their potential is limited by their inability to finance expansion.  Loan guarantees (e.g., AGRA) and enlightened bank financing (e.g., Rabobank) have certainly helped, but the entire sector continues to be constrained.  The Forum did, however, provide valuable opportunities for the various stakeholder groups to meet, interact and discuss collaborations.

Fake products (which we have addressed on several occasions) continue to be a problem, and reliable sources indicate that 40%-50% of all crop protection products sold in Uganda are fake.  Entrepreneurs order packaging from China that mimics popular products, counterfeit the labels and then fill the containers with inferior generic product (e.g., glycophosphate).  Even multinationals like Monsanto have failed to protect their IP, and the entire agricultural sector suffers from reduced productivity and excessive costs as a result.  Government response has, for the most part, been that there are insufficient resources to launch appropriate regulatory initiatives.

With some well-publicized and notable exceptions (e.g., Ghanaian pineapple, Rwandan coffee) the agricultural sector in most countries is still typified by broken supply and distribution chains and by market distortions such as government subsidies and NGO donation of inputs.  There is, however, a growing consensus that a market-driven approach to value chain development is probably the only viable pathway leading to a sustainable increase in output.

EMRC is well-organized, and in all likelihood you will be able to download a detailed report on the Forum within a week or two at http://www.emrc.be/en/events/past-events.aspx

Post written by Peter Bloch, consultant to CAS-IP