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Caribbean Wants More Than 'One Size Fits All' Strategy In Dealing With Climate Change

UNFCCC headlines - Mon, 05/12/2014 - 08:04
Source: Bernama - When it comes to dealing with the impact of climate change on the agricultural sector, Caribbean countries are letting it be known that the "one size fits all "strategy is not for them.
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With corporate help, Obama announces actions on renewable energy

UNFCCC headlines - Mon, 05/12/2014 - 08:04
Source: Reuters - President Barack Obama on Friday will announce executive orders to increase the use of solar panels, boost energy efficiency in federal buildings and train more people to work in the renewable energy field, the White House said.
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Ban Ki-moon’s UN climate summit is starting to take shape

UNFCCC headlines - Mon, 05/12/2014 - 08:04
Source: RTCC - World leaders will gather in New York in September for a much hyped Climate Summit. Are they ready?
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Kuwait eyes 2,000 MW of renewable energy by 2030

UNFCCC headlines - Mon, 05/12/2014 - 08:04
Source: Arab Times - As local demand for oil increased by 67% over the past decade, Kuwait has pushed to implement a strategic sustainability initiative that seeks to generate 2,000MW of renewable energy by 2030.
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UN chief: Climate change can ‘bring jobs and income’

UNFCCC headlines - Mon, 05/12/2014 - 08:04
Source: Independent - The United Nations’ top climate change official is calling on the political right to see global warming as “a huge business opportunity”.
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Climate change: We have no solution yet (opinion)

UNFCCC headlines - Mon, 05/12/2014 - 08:04
Source: Washington Post -
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NREL Announces Participants in National Executive Education Program

NREL - Mon, 05/12/2014 - 08:00
The Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has selected 17 leaders to participate in its 2014 Executive Energy Leadership program (Energy Execs), which empowers executives to integrate clean energy solutions in their communities.
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NREL Staff Recognized for Top Innovations

NREL - Fri, 05/09/2014 - 08:00
The Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory recently recognized the professionals behind the lab’s greatest innovations from the past year during its annual Innovation and Technology Transfer Awards ceremony. The event also celebrated NREL’s commercialization and partnering successes, recognizing the researchers and engineers—including three honorees in the new Rising Stars Award category—who made it happen.
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NREL Assembles Industry Group to Explore Solar Lending Potential

NREL - Wed, 05/07/2014 - 08:00
Increasingly, banks, credit unions, and other lenders are beginning to offer loan products to homeowners and businesses for the installation of rooftop solar systems. However, barriers to accessing this growing market still remain. The Energy Department’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recently convened the Banking on Solar working group to engage lenders and other stakeholders to address these barriers.
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NREL Innovators to Be Honored on May 8

NREL - Wed, 05/07/2014 - 08:00
The Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory will be hosting its annual Innovation and Technology Transfer Awards ceremony on May 8, at the Denver West Marriott. The awards celebrate NREL's innovation and technology transfer accomplishments from the past year, including NREL patented technologies, outstanding achievements in transferring NREL-developed technologies into the marketplace, and notable innovators.
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The Declaration on Patent Protection: Regulatory sovereignty under TRIPS.

The Declaration on Patent Protection: Regulatory sovereignty under TRIPS was drafted under the auspices of the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition in Munich. It is the result of two decades of intensive research and prepared with the support of scholars all over the world. It has been issued in the context of the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the WTO and the adoption of the TRIPS Agreement on 15 April 1994.

The purpose of the Declaration indicates the interpretive scope of the TRIPS norms. Overall, it remains neutral – it is neither directed at states with a specific level of development nor does it aspire to provide recommendations for legal action. It only points out the regulatory discretion that national legislators enjoy when it comes to implementing their own patent systems.

According to the drafters

“Sovereign states should retain the discretion to adopt a patent system that best suits their technological capabilities as well as their social, cultural and economic needs and priorities, with the proviso that the exercise of such discretion must remain within the boundaries of international law. Taking into account the customary principles of interpretation of international law, this Declaration seeks to shed light on these boundaries. The purpose is to clarify the policy space that the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) leaves to national legislators and judicial authorities with regard to the implementation and administration of their patent systems.”

The Declaration deals accordingly with the following aspects of patent law: a) general principles; b) differentiation of fields of technology; c) patentability and disclosure; d) scope of protection; e) exhaustion issues; f) exceptions to the scope of protection; g) compulsory licence; h) government use; i) undisclosed information; j) enforcement; k) goods in transit; and l) criminal measures.

The Declaration on Patent Protection shows that it is possible to design a patent system that reflects both the interest of inventors and right holders as well as the national public interest, without infringing the international obligations of WTO members and taking advantage of the TRIPS Agreement flexibilities.

You can access the document here

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International technology transfer: Current implementation and future course of action

Improving technology transfer flows and arrangements directed towards developing countries and LDCs has emerged as an important priority in a number of international forums such as the WTO, WIPO and beyond. It has also been a shared interest in the research agendas of ICTSD and the Centre for Global Development (CGD).

In this context, this expert meeting will discuss the draft of a new CGD paper entitled: ‘Europe Beyond Aid: Evaluating Europe’s contribution to the transfer of technology and knowledge to developing nations’ developed in cooperation with Walter Park (American University) and Owen Barder (CGD) who will present the paper at the dialogue. Beyond Europe, the meeting will also examine the status of current technology transfer discussions at both WTO and WIPO.

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Multilateral IP negotiations: Between rhetoric and reality

Multilateral intellectual property (IP) negotiations face multiple challenges in an increasingly complex global innovation landscape. From climate change to biodiversity and access to medicines, IP has become a cross-cutting issue with important public policy implications. Regional/bilateral trade agreements and plurilateral initiatives have also become a key feature of this global landscape.

In this context, what are the present realities and future challenges facing these negotiations? How can traditional differences be bridged to reach consensual outcomes? How to ensure coherence across the variety of international forums where IP issues are raised? These are some of the questions to be addressed in this dialogue which will bring together capital-based officials to interact with Geneva based IP negotiators, who will provide a practical perspective on how IP negotiations are conducted at forums such as the WTO and WIPO.

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First Geneva Dialogue on Traditional Knowledge

The International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD), the Australian Centre for Intellectual Property in Agriculture (ACIPA) and the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI) are holding the First Geneva Dialogue on Traditional Knowledge on Friday, March 21, 2014 (9h30 - 18h00).

The objective of this dialogue is to provide an informal space to debate key issues relevant for the effective development and implementation of an international regime for the protection of TK, with a primary focus on the ongoing process at the IGC.

The dialogue will thus bring together a multi-stakeholder group of country delegates, experts, academics and indigenous people representatives to discuss the current direction of the IGC negotiations on TK. The morning sessions will provide opportunities to discuss the IGC draft text on TK, its relationship to the CBD Nagoya Protocol, and the treatment of customary law and its role in securing effective TK protection. The contribution of proposals included in the recent IGC draft text on GRs to the prevention of TK misappropriation will also be examined. The afternoon sessions will address key issues in the draft TK text, as well as cross-cutting issues in the draft GRs text, such as: i) scope; ii) economic rights/beneficiaries; iii) shared TK and iv) limitations and exceptions.

If you wish to attend, please register in advance with Ms. Anna Jedrusik (Tel: +4122-9178855, email: ipprogramme@ictsd.ch). Places are limited.

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Multilateral IP negotiations: Between rhetoric and reality

Multilateral intellectual property (IP) negotiations face multiple challenges in an increasingly complex global innovation landscape. From climate change to biodiversity and access to medicines, IP has become a cross-cutting issue with important public policy implications. Regional/bilateral trade agreements and plurilateral initiatives have also become a key feature of this global landscape.

In this context, what are the present realities and future challenges facing these negotiations? How can traditional differences be bridged to reach consensual outcomes? How to ensure coherence across the variety of international forums where IP issues are raised? These are some of the questions to be addressed in this dialogue which will bring together capital-based officials to interact with Geneva based IP negotiators, who will provide a practical perspective on how IP negotiations are conducted at forums such as the WTO and WIPO.

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WIPO Ctte Nominates Gurry for Second Term

Francis Gurry is set to serve another six years as the head of the UN’s intellectual property body, after a selection committee nominated him for a second term last week. The recommendation is expected to be formally approved during May’s meeting of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) General Assembly.

Gurry’s first term as WIPO Director-General, which began in 2008, saw the adoption of two major treaties: the Marrakesh Treaty on copyright exceptions for the visually impaired and the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances. (See Bridges Weekly, 4 July 2013 and 27 June 2012, respectively)

This year’s Director-General race featured four candidates competing for the top slot, some of whom indicated that their candidature was motivated by a perception that WIPO was in need of strengthening as an institution. Traditionally when an incumbent UN agency chief is seeking re-election, they are endorsed by consensus, without any challengers.

Along with Gurry, who was nominated by Australia, the other candidates included Deputy Director-General Geoffrey Onyeama of Nigeria, Estonian Ambassador Jüri Seilenthal, and Panamanian Ambassador Alfredo Suescum.

Under WIPO procedures, a final nominee is chosen by the organisation’s Coordination Committee, which votes by secret ballot to whittle down the list of candidates. The committee serves as WIPO’s executive body, and is made up of 83 member states. The outcome is then sent to the full WIPO membership for final approval or rejection.

Last Thursday, in the first round of voting, Gurry received 46 votes, followed by Onyeama with 20, Suescum with 10, and Seilenthal with 7. The top three candidates were slated to advance to the second round. However, Onyeama and Suescum withdrew their candidacies later in the day, leaving Gurry as the consensus nominee.

In his acceptance speech, Gurry thanked the committee for its confidence in him. “The world of intellectual property is a challenging one, but one with great opportunities,” he said.

“I think that our task in the future is to manage those tensions that inevitably occur around intellectual property, innovation, and creativity in order to maximise the opportunities for all member states,” he added.

After approval in May, Gurry will begin his second term in October.

ICTSD reporting.

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The Shale Gas Revolution

As shale gas exploration and extraction ramps up in many parts of the world, its contribution to global climate change and effect on international trade are becoming increasingly complicated and indeterminate. Undoubtedly, shale gas is transforming energy prices, industrial competitiveness, and geopolitics in a number of countries. Further investigation and safeguards are therefore needed to ensure that the shale gas “revolution” fosters, rather than hinders, sustainable development.

This paper, authored by Thomas L. Brewer, a senior fellow of ICTSD, sheds light on these complex issues and calls on governments, industry and international agencies to evaluate the full effects of shale gas on the environment and climate change to determine how it can best fit into a sustainable development agenda.

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South Africa, pharmaceutical industry face off on patent reform

Abstract: South Africa’s efforts to reform its intellectual property (IP) regime in order to improve access to medicines has sparked a firestorm lately, with major pharmaceutical companies openly at odds with civil society and developing countries.

South Africa’s efforts to reform its intellectual property (IP) regime in order to improve access to medicines sparked a firestorm in January 2014, with major pharmaceutical companies openly at odds with civil society and developing countries

The draft IP policy was published in September 2013, with the country currently taking steps toward its eventual implementation. The changes would establish a system of substantive patent examination, and would also strengthen the existing criteria for “patentability.” These revisions, proponents say, would make it easier for generic drugs to compete in a market that has long been dominated by the research-based pharmaceutical industry.

“The current system allows pharmaceutical companies to obtain multiple patents on the same drug, even for inventions that do not fall under the country’s definition of innovation,” various civil society organisations have said in advocating for the reform.

The existing regime, they added, thus allows these companies to extend their monopolies and charge inflated prices for medicines, while making it difficult for generic manufacturers to compete.

However, the leak soon thereafter of a memo aimed at helping major drug companies undermine the proposed change has escalated the row, with South African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi openly comparing the industry campaign to “genocide.”

Civil society, developing countries weigh in

Several developing countries, along with a coalition of civil society groups, have spoken up in support of South Africa, during a meeting of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Executive Board end of January, 2014.

The industry response is “unacceptable in a country facing one of the world’s most acute HIV and [tuberculosis] epidemics,” Médecins Sans Frontières said at the meeting, noting that medicine prices in South Africa are up to 35 times higher than in countries where generics have a greater market share.

Some civil society organisations have formally called on the WHO Executive Board to adopt a resolution expressing solidarity with the African country.

WHO Director -General Margaret Chan has similarly expressed her concern, saying that “no government should be intimidated by interested parties for doing the right thing in public health.”

Public health and access to medicine is believed to have been greatly affected by the international agreement on TRIPS instituted at the Uruguay Round in 1994.

The WTOs main agreement on IP, which offers intellectual property protection to drug discoveries and innovations, has been a source of contention between pharmaceuticals and Non-governmentals in the public health circles.

ICTSD reporting

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WIPO Genetic Resources Talks Advance, Though Differences Linger

Delegates meeting at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) last week made some limited progress in discussions on genetic resources and intellectual property rights, producing a new streamlined draft text to forward to the organisation’s General Assembly in September.

However, the new document still contains many brackets on a range of important subjects.

These discussions are held under WIPO’s Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC), which aims to develop an international legal instrument(s) that would protect genetic resources, traditional knowledge, and traditional cultural expressions.

Problematic disclosure

One of the provisions that sparked the most debate last week was on the mandatory disclosure of the origin of genetic material used by patent applicants, or on which they seek patent claims.

While developing countries say that the requirement is essential for preventing biopiracy, some developed countries and industry groups argue that it could disincentivise innovation and be burdensome on patent offices and applicants.

According to the draft text, which still contains brackets in this area, each party shall require applicants to disclose the country of origin and source of the genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge. However, new language has also been introduced to the effect that patent offices must provide sufficient effective guidance to applicants on how to meet disclosure requirements.

The range of post-grant sanctions for non-compliance with the disclosure requirement and whether these include patent revocation remains unresolved.

Misappropriation

The IGC also identified “preventing misappropriation of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge” as the main policy objective of the proposed international instrument. For many years, developed countries had been reluctant to accept this concept as the key goal behind the WIPO discussions.

The widely-deliberated definition currently includes a US proposal that outlines what would not qualify as misappropriation - namely, any genetic resources and their associated traditional knowledge that have been attained lawfully. Some examples, they say, could include reading publications, reverse engineering, and inadvertent disclosure.

Another IGC meeting is scheduled for July, in the hopes of bridging the remaining differences before the General Assembly.

ICTSD reporting; “WIPO Genetic Resources Text Compiles Differences, Heads To General Assembly,” IP-WATCH, 10 February 2014.

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