Tuesday, May 08, 2012

The need to protect innovations of less priviledged

In the words of  Anil Gupta, founder of the Honey Bee Network and a professor at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, "new models of intellectual property rights are needed to protect — and promote — local knowledge and innovations". Innovation and knowledge created by people in developing nations need to be protected by intellectual property — not so much to prevent others from learning and building on their ideas, but to ensure that they are not short-changed. IP rights also protect those who commercialise these innovations from unfair competition. Inventions protected by patents, a main conventional form of IP rights, can withstand the scrutiny of 'global prior art' — that is, they have novel features beyond previously known practices or technologies. However, more still needs to be done.The author contends that  we should go beyond conventional models of IP rights to give innovators a true stake in their inventions, because  never before in human history has more knowledge been eroded from communities than in the current generation — and we seem to be mute spectators. One way that innovators can protect their work is through the concept of 'technology commons', which implies that copying and adapting innovations is allowed between people ('horizontal learning'), but not from people to companies, except through licensing.

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