Toward a new era of intellectual property: from confrontation to negotiation

15 Sep 2008

Intellectual property occupies a central position in the biotechnology innovation system, the expected source of new medicines, foods and bio-energy. An international and interdisciplinary research team has convened for the last seven years in an attempt to better understand the mechanisms of intellectual property in biotechnology innovation, and to suggest improvements to the role of intellectual property in that system. This report represents the research team?s core finding and recommendations. The core finding is that policy-makers and business leaders must give shape to a new era of intellectual property to stimulate innovation and broaden access to discoveries. The current system, ?Old IP,? rests on the belief that if some intellectual property (IP) is good, more must be better. But such thinking has proved counterproductive to industry, which in health fields has seen declining levels of innovation despite increasing stakes in intellectual property. The era of Old IP has also proved counterproductive to the world?s poor who await advances in health and agriculture long available to the global elite. The International Expert Group concluded that a ?New IP? era that focuses on cooperation and collaboration is slowly emerging. Intellectual property is meant to assist in this process by encouraging cooperation among various brokers and stakeholders. The best innovative activity occurs when everyone ? researchers, companies, government and NGOs ? works together to ensure that new ideas reach the public, but are appropriately regulated and efficiently delivered to those who need them.

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