[Ip-health] Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) calls WIPO treaty for blind "dangerous precedent for other areas of IP Law"

Jamie Love james.love at keionline.org
Mon May 6 12:48:02 PDT 2013


Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) calls WIPO treaty for
blind "dangerous precedent for other areas of IP Law"

Submitted by James Love [1] on 6. May 2013 - 13:17
On April 15, 2013, the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO)
sent a letter to Teresa Stanek Rea, the Acting Under Secretary of
Commerce for Intellectual Property and the Director of the U.S. Patent
and Trademark Office, setting out the IPO "concerns" about the
proposed WIPO treaty for persons who are blind or visually impaired.
(Copy here [2]).

As an organization, the IPO is primarily focused on patent and
trademark rights. The board of directors of the IPO is a who's who of
large multinational corporations from the technology, pharmaceutical,
energy and consumer goods fields. The Current President of IPO is
Richard F. Phillips of Exxon Mobil, the Vice President is Philip S.
Johnson from Johnson & Johnson, and the Treasurer is Carl B. Horton
from General Electric Co. IPO's letter is aggressive in tone and calls
for a narrowing of exceptions for the blind. The IPO says it is
largely concerned about the precedent for patent law, and the letter
sets a new standard for the alarmist "slippery slope" arguments in
opposition to robust exceptions for the blind.

Some excerpts from the IP letter follow:

<-----------Text from IPO Letter---------------------------------

Our main concern about the VIP treaty, as currently drafted, is that
it addresses L/Es to copyrights in isolation, without parallel
provisions addressing IP holders’ rights. The proposed VIP treaty
would create specific L/Es to copyright protection, with the aim of
broadening access to print works for the visually impaired. However,
it would not reflect the importance of protecting the copyright of
those who created the work.
. . .

A balanced approach to copyright protection cannot exist when rights
and exceptions are treated separately.

To achieve this objective, we have three recommendations:

(1) Incorporate the Berne Convention’s “three step test” into the VIP
treaty. This can be done
directly or explicitly “by reference.” If the three step test is not
incorporated, however, limitations and exceptions may apply, while
basic copyright protections do not.

(2) Delete the VIP treaty’s expansion of fair use. As you know, many
WIPO member countries do not have proper legal and institutional
mechanisms in place that would allow them to implement fair use
effectively and fairly.

(3) Ensure that there is an exception to L/Es for situations where a
copyrighted work is commercially available and accessible.

By isolating L/Es from the IP holders’ rights, the VIP treaty
negotiations could also set a dangerous precedent for other areas of
IP law, particularly patent law. The U.S. advanced manufacturing
industry continues to face the threat of erosion of patent rights in a
range of international fora and negotiations. Other countries could
refer to the WIPO VIP treaty as precedent for establishing broad
exceptions and limitations to patent rights without adequate
protections for innovators.

This threat is not merely theoretical; it is real. This February, the
WIPO Standing Committee on the Law of Patents agreed to initiate a
work program focused specifically on the exploration of an L/E
approach to patent rights. In fact, later this year, the Committee
will hold a special conference to discuss “countries’ use of
health-related patent flexibilities.” This is a concerning first step,
and the discussion of expansion of limitations could easily bleed into
other areas of patent protection, for example, clean technologies,
energy, medical technologies, and advanced manufacturing in general.
Such competitive strategies are specifically being pursued by several
leading emerging economies.

Patents and other industrial property rights continue to be under fire
at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC),
World Health Organization (WHO), and at the World Trade Organization
(WTO) as well. Despite substantial differences between copyrights and
patent protection and the regulatory frameworks and balance of rights
and obligations on which they are based, the WIPO VIP treaty
developments could pose a real and much broader IP-policy risk.

. . .

-----------Text from IPO Letter--------------------------------->

Source URL: http://keionline.org/node/1716

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