Today sees the release in paperback of the first book by Millicent Ligare in this field.
The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity was adopted on 29 October 2010 in Nagoya, Japan, and entered into force on 12 October 2014.
Now the debates are in full swing across the world about how to implement the protocol at the domestic level.
If you feel perplexed by topics such as “International access and benefit sharing regimes under the CBD, ITPGRA, IGC & TRIPS”- then this is the book for you.
Written for everybody interested in the Nagoya Protocol, those who did not realise it existed, and those who do not know how it will affect them, this concise, but extensively referenced work, is a must for students of the topic.
This book demystifies
The historical background to the protection of IPRs
What is ‘Access and Benefit Sharing’?
The position of ABS under the CBD
The position of ABS under the TRIPS Agreement
Patent applications and the utilisation of GR, post-CBD and post-TRIPS
The implications for ABS, patent applications and utilisation of genetic resources, after Nagoya.
The author: Millicent Ligare is an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya, and holds an LLM from the University of the West of England, Bristol.
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.
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.
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.