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Report: Current IP System Stifles Biotech Innovation, Impedes Rx Access in Developing World

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) - The world’s intellectual property system is broken, stifling innovation and stopping life-saving technologies from reaching the people who need them most in developed and developing countries, according to a report released this week by an international coalition of experts.
The report, entitled “Toward a New Era of Intellectual Property: From Confrontation to Negotiation,” was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and is the result of seven years of work by McGill University professor Richard Gold and a group of experts in law, ethics, and economics called the International Expert Group on Biotechnology, Innovation, and IP.
In the report, the authors present findings from discussions with international policy makers, industry representatives, scientists, and academics; as well as from several biotech IP case studies from around the world.
According to the report, biotech policy makers, business leaders, and academics rely too heavily on an “old IP” system that encourages as much patenting as possible, is counterproductive to innovation, and impedes developing nations from accessing potentially life-saving technologies.
Instead, the authors assert that biotech players need to adopt a “new IP” strategy that focuses on cooperation and collaboration at all levels; and make several recommendations to government, industry, and university officials to help implement such a strategy.
Among these recommendations are for universities to develop clear IP licensing principles to promote greater access to biotechnology innovations and to develop better measures of tech-transfer success based on social returns; for industry to participate in more public-private partnerships and to be transparent about their patent holdings; and for governments to take a more active role in encouraging and mediating public-private partnerships and collect standardized patent-related information, including licensing data.
The full report, released at an event this week in Ottawa, can be found on the website of The Innovation Partnership, a non-profit that will focus on addressing many of the issues raised by the research.
Comprehensive data supporting the group’s report will be released on Oct. 14 at a press event in Washington, DC.

An in-depth interview with Gold about the report’s findings and its particular implications for university technology transfer in the life sciences will appear in the Sept. 10 edition of Biotech Transfer Week, a GenomeWeb Daily News sister publication.

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