This blogger is grateful to the organisers of the 13th WIPO-WTO Colloquium for arranging a study trip to Nestlé to learn first-hand how multinationals use the intellectual property (IP) system to drive their businesses around the world. Enter Nestlé: a brand-driven global company with an unmatched product and brand portfolio. This Swiss multinational has 10,000 different products with over 1 billion products sold every day. Nestlé has a product for every moment of every day, from morning to night and from birth to old age. As a result, Nestlé has close to 100,000 trade mark and design protections worldwide. Nestle’s brands are clearly its most valuable asset with an estimated worth of 1 Billion Swiss Francs (CHF). Therefore the Legal Team at Nestlé says that it must preserve/strengthen its immensely valuable IP assets and it has developed intricate IP management strategies.
Distinctive signs that indicate geographic origin were the earliest types of trademark in the sale of pre -industrial products such as minerals, simple manufactured goods and agricultural products. The use of animals (panda beer), landmarks (Mt. Fuji Sake), and well known personalities (Napoleaon Brandy, Mozart chocolates) are noted as the earliest sort of geographical indications that sought to denote particular locations but also to convey a certain message about the quality and reputation of the product.
TRIPs defines Geographical Indications (GIs) as indications “which identify a good as originating in the territory of a Member, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographical origin”. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) defines “geographic indication” as a “sign used on goods that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities, reputation or characteristics that are essentially attributable to that place of origin.”
In 2013, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) launched WIPO GREEN intended to be the marketplace for sustainable technology. It promotes innovation and diffusion of green technologies by connecting technology and service providers with those seeking innovative solutions. This is a program under WIPO’s Global Challenges Division work on Climate Change and Food Security was launched with 34 partners, now it has 68 wtih 2200 uploads. WIPO’s “green” mandate is to contribute to global policy discussions at the interface of intellectual property (IP) and climate change. This mandate is derived from various sources. Article 4.5 refers to the facilitation of green technology transfer in accordance with the UNFCCC. Strategic Goal VII refers to addressing IP in relation to global policy issues. Under Program 18 the expected results aims to have a functioning platform for uptake and diffusion of green technologies. Finally, WIPO Development Agenda Recommendation 25 refers to the promotion of the transfer of technology to the benefit of developing countries
An International Survey by World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) reveals the top 10 priorities in choice of dispute resolution clauses, which include cost, time, enforceability, quality outcome, neutral forum, confidentiality among others. Over 70% of the respondents cited cost as the top priority in both international and domestic contracts followed by time and enforceability.
The international framework in copyright and related rights has been in flux with two recent treaties namely Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances (2012) and the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled (2013). Both are in the process of obtaining enough ratifications or accessions to enter into force.
The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) assists applicants in seeking patent protection internationally for their inventions, helps patent Offices with their patent granting decisions, and facilitates public access to a wealth of technical information relating to those inventions. By filing one international patent application under the PCT, applicants can simultaneously seek protection for an invention in a very large number of countries.
With 197 parties, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol has been ratified by 192 of the UNFCCC Parties. The ultimate objective of both treaties is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system. To achieve UNFCCC objective, climate technologies must play key role. The Convention states that all countries shall promote and cooperate in development and transfer of technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, developed countries shall take all practicable steps to promote, facilitate and finance transfer of, or access to, climate technologies to developing countries.
Until recently, traditional knowledge (TK) and traditional cultural expressions (TCEs) were considered as belonging to the common heritage of humanity. As such, TK and TCEs were considered as part of the “public domain”. Today, there is a growing awareness of various realities such as: the risk of erosion of local knowledge systems; the economic potential – for communities and industries; their value as cultural “assets” – part of social and cultural identity; and vulnerability to misuse and misappropriation.
TK and TCEs are innovations and creative expressions of indigenous and local communities. They are products of creative intellectual activity; so they are “intellectual property (IP)” but since they are “traditional”, they cannot be fully protected by existing IP systems due to inherent inadequacies of the system eg. Originality, Use in commerce, Novelty etc. Of course, TK and TCEs should be preserved, conserved and safeguarded. But should they get IP protection, and if so, how? Protection with conventional/existing IP systems? Adaptation of existing IP systems? Sui generis protection? Non-IP measures and laws?
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP) was established in 1998 as a Member States’ committee (IGOs and NGOs participate as observers). SCP Sessions at WIPO are typically made up of about 90-100 Member States, 5-10 IGOs and 25-30 NGOs. SCP is a forum to discuss issues, facilitate coordination and provide guidance concerning the progressive international development of patent law, including the harmonization of national laws and procedures. It is an important forum that deals with a cluster of issues rather than each issue in isolation. This led to the conclusion of the Patent Law Treaty (PLT) in 2000 and between 2000-2006, it has facilitated negotiation of the draft Substantive Patent Law Treaty (SPLT).
Technology is very important in modern production and distribution processes. It is what gives the competitive edge to economies and thus access to technology crucial for economic development. Cutting-edge technology can be acquired either through creation or commercial acquisition. To create one’s own technology, there is need to invest in research and development (R&D), which can be expensive due to huge upfront investments with no guarantee of
commercial success. On the other hand, acquisition of technology has the advantage of lower risk however in some cases choosing commercially proven technology may not be easy or the owner of the tech may not want to sell or licence or may be willing to do so on only on potentially disadvantageous terms.