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Patently Absurd

Ignore US bullying on IPRs

Issue Date: May 31, 2015
It's that time of the year when the US hectors and bullies an assorted collection of countries that have failed to meet its standards of intellectual property rights (IPRs) protection. The standards that it demands from its trading partners are way beyond what the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules require but for well over two decades the US Trade Representative (USTR) has used its annual Special 301 Report to keep “defaulting” countries in line through a naming and shaming exercise.

Doing very nicely without IPRs

Issue Date: May 15, 2015

Push for open source software

Issue Date: Apr 30, 2015
It has taken the government of India a decade and more to grasp a basic truth—that open source software (OSS) is the way to go. March-end, the Information Technology (IT) ministry unveiled, finally, a policy for adopting OSS as the preferred option in all e-governance systems implemented by various government organisations. The policy, which makes it mandatory to adopt OSS, is intended to lower costs and ensure strategic control of these systems. It says the aim is to ensure “efficiency, transparency and reliability of such services at affordable costs”. Sigh.

Why do we need patents?

Issue Date: Apr 15, 2015
As we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously.” So wrote Benjamin Franklin, America’s founding father and man of many parts, in his autobiography explaining why he had refused a patent for a more efficient open stove he had invented in 1742.

Pushing limits of drug access

Issue Date: Mar 31, 2015
Among the goods that come within the ambit of intellectual property rights (IPRs), none is more contentious than pharmaceuticals, specially those medicines that are categorised as life-saving. The high pricing of such drugs, ostensibly on account of the huge cost of discovery and research and development, is the bone of contention.

Bitter ABS medicine for AYUSH

Issue Date: Mar 15, 2015
What's good for biodiversity is not always good for business—or so it appears. The long overdue guidelines on access and benefit sharing (ABS) of biological resources notified by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) in November 2014 is proving to be bitter physic for the makers of AYUSH or traditional medicines who fear their healthy profits will decline.

The innovation WHO needs

Issue Date: Feb 28, 2015
Six years ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) adopted a Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property (IP), or GSPA as it is known, to “foster innovation and improve access for people in developing countries”. At its executive board meeting that ended on February 3, the board recommended extension of GSPA until 2022.

Maths of Gilead's hepatitis C drug

Issue Date: Feb 15, 2015
The indian Patent Office’s rejection of one of Gilead Sciences’ patents on sofosbuvir, which is used to treat the killer hepatitis C (hep C) infection, has put the spotlight back on the whopping cost of this drug. Treatment over a 12-week period costs $84,000, or an eye-popping $1,000 per pill per day, a price that not many even in the prosperous parts of the world can afford.

Rotten tomato for Monsanto

Issue Date: Jan 31, 2015
European patent No.1812575 was extraordinary on a number of counts. It was held by Monsanto of the US. Ah, yes, Monsanto, one of the top agribiotech companies in the world, but this patent had nothing to do with genetic modification (GM).It covered conventionally bred tomatoes with natural resistance to a fungal disease called botrytis. Even more astonishing, the tomatoes used for this patent were accessed from the international gene bank in Gatersleben, Germany. And in the scientific community everyone knew these tomato varieties had the desired resistance.

A victory and a retreat on CLs

Issue Date: Jan 15, 2015
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