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China’s innovation plans – and other news

James Nurton

Today’s blog includes a roundup of news from China and India, the latest views on copyright reform, the Myriad case and Google’s patents pledge

China’s next steps in innovation

SIPO has released an English version of its 2013 Promotion Plan for the Implementation of the National Intellectual Property Strategy. The document lists 84 tasks grouped into eight categories. With increasing questions about the quality of the patents being filed in China, category 3, “Promoting IP Utilization” is of particular interest. Some of the tasks here are fairly general; for example, item 14 is to “study and formulate guiding opinions on promoting the technology transfer in research institutes and universities…”. However, other items appear to address specific concerns and areas that SIPO seeks to improve. Item 13 calls for projects to promote “self-relied IP rights in the large-scale commercialization of next-generation internet and LTE industry development”, while item 17 seeks to “accelerate the mutual transfer of military and civil IPRs” and systems to manage IP rights within the procurement system. Item 16 calls for the implementation of a “promotion program for the industrialization of forestry patents and granted new varieties”, an item carried over from last year’s Promotion Plan.

It is sometimes hard to gauge whether these goals reflect real progress in China’s National IP Strategy, but it is worth noting that the 2013 plan, at least in terms of goals relating to IP utilisation, seems to be more concrete than the 2012 plan, which had several items calling for research and collecting opinions and fewer references to actual industries and programmes. Time will tell if this is a sign that China is making strides in becoming not just the biggest patent filer in the world, but also a place where sustainable and comercialisable innovation is being created.

FT weighs in on Myriad

Every banker’s favourite newspaper, the Financial Times, presented a slightly surprising view on biotechnology in an editorial entitled “Gene patents put patients at risk” yesterday (FT subscription required). Ahead of the US Supreme Court hearing in Myriad next month, the FT noted that patent specialists have an interest in extending the scope of patents and then fighting over them in court. It concluded: “The time has come for governments to push back against excessive expansion and make sure that patents continue to serve the interests of protecting invention and promoting innovation.”

Copyright foes need to talk

In a blog post earlier this week, we noted the different interests in the copyright debate. Since then I’ve seen two well-expressed examples of what might crudely be called the anti-copyright view: one by Cory Doctorow in the Guardian newspaper and one by Mike Masnick on Techdirt (with 280 comments and counting). The two sides in this debate have deeply-held views that are almost religious in their intensity. If any progress is going to be made on Maria Pallante’s well-intentioned call for a new law, there will have to be some inter-faith dialogue.

What is Google’s pledge worth?

Google has published a pledge not to assert (unless attacked) 10 patents it owns relating to processing and generating large data sets. Senior patent counsel Duane Valz said that over time further patents would be added. Coming as Google and its partners in the Android universe are engaged in worldwide litigation over other patents, is this a serious effort to promote cooperation or just a gimmick? We’d be interested in readers’ views.

D-day for pharma in India

Monday is April Fool’s Day. It’s surely just a coincidence that it’s also the day the Indian Supreme Court is due to rule on the validity of Novartis’s patent for imatinib (Glivec), a key test case for the pharma industry. For more background see the articles in PMLive, The Economic Times and Business Standard. We’ll bring reports and analysis of the decision once it’s available.


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