Biodiversity Law in Brazil

The Brazilian government enacted the Biodiversity Law (Federal Law 13, 123/2015), which came into force on the 17th of November 2015.

The law established rules for; access to genetic heritage, protection  of and access to associated traditional knowledge & benefit sharing for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

Genetic Resources and Traditional Knowledge in Namibia

The ministry of Environment & Tourism conducted a 3 day workshop in Windhoek Namibia, to help create public awareness on the importance of documenting and protecting IPR’s related to the use of Genetic Resources and associated Traditional Knowledge for the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol.

Namibia is a signatory to the Nagoya Protocol.

The Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, said that as investors are attracted to Namibia by its natural heritage and its rich traditional knowledge attached to the utilisation of these assets, it was imperative to implement the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) in order to engage and share experiences.

“It is a well-known fact that these assets are vulnerable to overexploitation, which has the potential to uproot them with no chance to grow again. The government is thus committed to counter this threat by ensuring that biodiversity and the ecological goods and services that they provide are used for the long term benefit of Namibians, especially the rural communities,” expounded the environment and tourism minister.

He said in the absence of a law, access to genetic resources and benefit sharing in Namibia has been regulated by the Interim Bio Prospecting Committee (IBPC) established by Cabinet in 2007.

Shifeta said the committee still regulates and facilitates all bio-prospecting and bio-trade activities, while at the same time safeguards them against unlawful exploitation and bio-piracy.

He urged the workshop participants to give priority to strengthening customary laws and value systems of indigenous peoples and local communities in the protection of their traditional knowledge.

The University of Namibia (UNAM) is involved with a project on documenting traditional knowledge.

 

Patented Cure for Cancer

This patent won EFF’s Stupid Patent of the Month, and rightly so. Perhaps that has given the game away before even starting.
I recall a young researcher finishing proudly reading his paper at a conference. A distinguished academic slowly rose to his feet, and declared, “This is an excellent example of research which should never have been carried out.” So, in a similar vein, should this patent ever have been awarded?
Which patent are we talking about? ‘Diane’s manna’, US 8609158 B2. T o give a flavour of this patent, here is the abstract:
This is a potent drug with narcotic benefits made from distinctly and uniquely combined and processed interchangeable seed and seed derivatives that are so potent that it removes or alleviates depression, mood disorders, Attention Disorder symptoms, thought disorder, mental illness, pain, right lip retardation symptoms, physical problems, Lymph Node cancer and many other illness symptoms. It removes bumps in the neck within a week or two. It is interchangeable in most aspects. It can be combined and processed with Pharmaceuticals and medicines to create new drugs. These Pharmaceuticals are now long lasting. I prefer the daily dose, but this drug can last months. It is extremely strong or potent and can be made weak to make your little Attention deficit child normal. It is an incredible mood stabilizer and reduces psychosis. Use it for cancer patient and for people with pain issues. It works.
And here is what EFF wrote:
August 28, 2014 | By Daniel Nazer

Magical Drug Wins EFF’s Stupid Patent of the Month

 Good news everyone! The Patent Office has granted a patent on a cure for cancer.

Last December, the Patent Office issued Patent No. 8,609,158 on a “potent drug” that “rebukes cancer, cancer cells, and kills cancer.” According to the patent, this drug cures a litany of other maladies. What is this wonderful invention, you ask? It is a combination of “evening primrose oil, rice, sesame seeds, green beans, coffee, meat, cheese, milk, green tea extract, evening primrose seeds, and wine.” As the patent’s abstract says, “it works.”

There is no reason to doubt the sincerity of the person who filed this application. But the patent examiner could and should have rejected it on any number of grounds, including enablement, indefiniteness, and utility. Why would the examiner issue the patent despite its clear infirmities? The answer to that question reveals the fundamental imbalance at the heart of the patent system.

This patent’s most obvious flaw is lack of utility – there’s no proof that the invention works. But the system places the burden of proof on the Patent Office, not the person asking for a 20 year monopoly. The examiner likely decided a rejection was not worth the effort – frankly, we wonder whether the examiner even read the application. In a similar case, the Patent Office issued a patent to an applicant whose work was widely known to be fraudulent. (The purported inventor had even spent time in jail for the fraud.) As Professor James Grimmelmann observed at the time: “The USPTO is an armory handing out legal howitzers on the honor system. What could possibly go wrong?”

The patent system also provides inadequate review of the crucial questions of anticipation and obviousness, i.e. is the patent really a new invention? Buried by hundreds of thousands of applications, the Patent Office can preform only a cursory review of each one. Examiners spend an average of only 19 hours per application (assuming that the claimed hours are real) and only a portion of that time is spent on the difficult and time consuming task of searching for prior art. Recent research confirmed that “examiners are more likely to approve marginal inventions when pressed for time.”

Despite this plainly inadequate review, granted patents are powerful litigation weapons. An issued patent, even Patent No. 8,609,158, is presumed valid and can only be invalidated in court with clear and convincing evidence. This is part of the reason why defending a patent suit is so expensive, even when the patent is weak. Patent trolls use this as leverage to extort settlements.

This month’s winning patent may be something of an outlier. But finding other bad patents is not difficult. Our (dis)honorable mentions this month include the recent patents US 8,793,159, US 8,793,178, and US 8,793,183. (Each of these patents, despite being issued after the Supreme Court’s decision in Alice v. CLS Bank, merely ties an abstract business process to a computer.) Whether we consider this month’s stupid patent or the runners-up, it’s clear we need fundamental reform to stop the flood of bad patents.

It’s patented! (but it just won’t work)

It has been hard not to notice the recent 10 year sentence for a conman selling bomb and drug detectors across the world – which cannot have worked.

Fake bomb detector conman jailed for 10 years. James McCormick, who sold more than £55m worth of fake detectors likely to have caused Iraqi deaths, jailed for 10 years.

Happily the ones bought by the police in Kenya apparently do work; as the Nation reported: “The report contradicts a statement by Nairobi police chief Benson Githinji who told reporters on Friday that “the machines in use are serviceable and don’t fall short… They are in operation and they work.”

However, it seems the case above has not been alone, because the BBC has just reported on 29 May 2013,

Three people have gone on trial at the Old Bailey charged with making and selling fake bomb and drug detectors.

The marketing material for the Alpha 6 Molecular Detector billed it as revolutionary product. It claimed the device could detect explosives and drugs in quantities as tiny as 15 billionths of a gram at a range of 300m (980ft), using static electricity.

Those of us with long IP memories, might start to remember the  DKL LifeGuard patents, as explored by Daniel C. Rislove in his paper in the Wisconsin Law Review:

In 1996, a district court granted the United States a permanent injunction against the Quadro Corporation, enjoining Quadro from selling a class of devices variously called the Quadro Tracker, Golfball Gopher, Trailhook, or Treasure Hunter. The marketing literature for these devices claimed that they could detect unseen objects by directing the bearer of the device in the correct direction, much like a dowsing rod acts to conduct its bearer towards water.
For example, it claimed that the Quadro Tracker was capable of detecting contraband such as illegal drugs and explosives. X-rays of the device determined that it consisted of nothing more than a hollow plastic shell with an attached radio antenna. Thus, like the classic dowsing rod, the Quadro Tracker was incapable of detecting anything. The primary victims of this fraud were law-enforcement agencies, correctional institutions, and school systems.
Enter DKL International, Inc. DKL markets a very expensive, handheld device called the DKL LifeGuard — purported to be capable of detecting living humans at a distance—to government agencies worldwide. Like the Quadro Tracker, the DKL LifeGuard fails to function as claimed. Why then is DKL International allowed to market its detectors while the Quadro Corporation is enjoined from selling similar devices? One possible explanation is that the DKL LifeGuard, unlike the Quadro devices, is covered by no less than eight patents.

It seems Rislove’s full paper, “A Case Study of Inoperable Inventions: Why is the USPTO Patenting Pseudoscience?” is still raising as many questions today as it did in 2006.