[Ip-health] innovation & intellectual property

Achal Prabhala aprabhala at gmail.com
Wed May 2 07:04:46 PDT 2018

Dear ip-health readers,

The accessibsa project (accessibsa.org) has a new report out which might 
interest you. Authored by Jonathan Berger and Andrew Rens, the report is 
titled - Innovation & Intellectual Property in South Africa: The Case 
for Reform

It's available here: 

The data used in the paper is available here: http://accessibsa.org/data/

About the paper: Jonathan and Andrew examined every patent granted in 
South Africa between 2005-2015, ie over a period of 10 years. Their 
central questions are whether the current IP regime in SA favours 
innovation as measured by patents, what the state of innovation as 
measured by patents in SA is, how it ties into the broader legal 
framework that governs patents, and how all of this related to the 
proposed IP reform process underway in SA.

Broadly, the paper is interested in challenging a notion that has been 
floated, that the IP reform as envisaged, which will expand access to 
medicines, will also "kill" innovation.

Some highlights:

- Less than 10% of the patents granted in the country were filed by 
South Africans
- Contrary to popular perception, there is no evidence that dominant 
sectors of the economy (like mining) are dominant patentees
- The majority of patents filed by South African entities appear to be 
of low quality, with low value
- Higher quality patents filed by South African entities, while a small 
percentage, are usually filed by universities and research institutions, 
leading the authors to conclude that investment in these institutions is 
what may drive innovation as measured by patents
- The legal framework around patents is lax, and unjustly skewed in 
favour of the patentees, thereby sealing the case for reform

About the data: While SA patent data is public, it is not yet easily 
accessible on the internet. We spent considerable time and money sifting 
through and organising the data we obtained, so please use it as you 
like, and pass on to anyone you know who may be interested. The data 
consists of two sets: one, the set of all foreign patents granted in SA 
between 2005-2015, and two, the set of all South African patents granted 
in the country between 2005-2015.

You can get in touch with the authors through the website accessibsa.org 
if you have any questions for them.

Good wishes,
Achal Prabhala

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