Too often, scholarly work and debates relating to Intellectual Property (IP) have focused on the protection and profits of the IP holder, as opposed to promoting open-access and the broader interests of the community. In her talk at the University of Ottawa on February 9th, Professor Janewa Osei-Tutu suggested we readjust the lens through which IP innovation is examined, using human development as the standard.
In the midst of two decades of TRIPS and three decades of openness, more than 400 delegates from over 50 countries converged in New Delhi for the 4th Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest (GCIP). Participants ranged from established academics to students and activists in the field of intellectual property (IP). Over a period of three days, GCIP delegates met at the National Law University to discuss a host of topics under four broad themes: Users’ Rights, Openness, IP and Development, and Access to Medicines.
In the recently concluded ‘African Ministerial Conference: Intellectual Property for an Emerging Africa’ organized in part by WIPO (here), one cannot help but think that all roads leading to creativity and innovation are paved with intellectual property (IP) laws and institutions. Put differently, the level of creativity and innovation in a society is dependent solely on how we tinker with and enforce IP laws. This ‘IP parochialism’, as I call it, is manifest in the conference program. Of course, the response would be that the conference was solely about IP and as such there was no need to look beyond IP. This is an erroneous view.
Open AIR is calling for African case studies that shed light on the following two overarching research questions:
How can open collaborative innovation help businesses scale up and seize the new opportunities of a global knowledge economy?
Which knowledge governance systems will best ensure that the social and economic benefits of innovation are shared inclusively across society as a whole?
The Advancement of Training and Research for Intellectual Property (ATRIP) Conference provides a yearly opportunity for international experts and other academics in the field of intellectual property (IP) to come together and exchange current research. The set-up of ATRIP’s conference enables for ease of networking with similar speakers separated into common sessions. Tana Pistorius, ATRIP President, and her team of organizers, did a superb job in ensuring a diversity of, yet connection between, sessions. Sessions covered a range of topics from new ideas for leveraging traditional knowledge (or “innovation knowledge” as Susy Frankel stated), to plant breeder’s rights, to diversity, art and culture in IP and innovation.
Our Open AIR researcher Dr. Erika Kraemer-Mbula is continuing her exciting research in South Africa about informal sector entrepreneurs.
Informal entrepreneurship is receiving increasing scholarly and political attention in Africa. The continent’s booming youth population calls for an unprecedented need to create income and livelihood opportunities. Besides the traditional focus on formalisation, there is a growing interest in understanding the creative processes and innovations occurring in informal enterprises. However, evidence remains scarce, and research on informal enterprises still represents a relatively new and unexplored frontier.
Open AIR’s Canada hub has been awarded a prestigious multimillion dollar Partnership Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada. Professors Jeremy de Beer and Chidi Oguamanam, both from the Common Law Section at the University of Ottawa, have been awarded a grant to expand the Open AIR network and to conduct further research.
When SSHRC and IDRC awarded sizeable, prestigious grants to support Open AIR in its third phase of research, the Network’s leadership promptly organized a face-to-face meeting at its North African Hub, the American University of Cairo. While a great strength of Open AIR is its ability to coordinate its research and administrative tasks remotely across its various hubs, personal meetings are invaluable when the Network needs to deal with specific overarching strategic issues.