UN’s intellectual property model to help developing countries makes good progress

29 September 2005

A year-old United Nations project aimed at helping developing country health research institutions to protect and commercialize their results has reached its halfway point, with 90 newly trained experts in patents and licences, the coordinating World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) said today.

A year-old United Nations project aimed at helping developing country health research institutions to protect and commercialize their results has reached its halfway point, with 90 newly trained experts in patents and licences, the coordinating World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) said today.

The aim of the project, which involves 30 institutions and was launched last September, is to create networks of research institutions and develop local expertise in using patents and other types of intellectual property (IP) protection. The networks will help develop, produce and distribute medicines based on both what are now conventional approaches and on traditional medicines.

The research institutions are based in six Central African countries – Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Republic of Congo – and one Latin American country, Colombia. Major financial support comes from the Geneva International Academic Network (RUIG-GIAN).

A lack of critical infrastructure, resources and key IP professional skills in developing countries has led to low economic returns on research and development (R&D) investment, difficulties in promoting the local development of desperately needed therapies and a lack of leverage for concluding technology transfer agreements.

Many of the institutions are working to combat malaria and other tropical diseases and, in the WIPO-GIAN project, more than 90 scientists and lawyers have been trained in such techniques as drafting patent applications and licensing agreements.

The project is establishing two R&D networks of research institutions that agree to implement common policies and to share common services, with each network serviced by an IP hub.

The IP hub provides common services that may include legal protection of research results, managing and licensing IP owned by the research institutions, encouraging public-private partnerships and looking for and negotiating funding.

 

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