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[e-drug] Call for Proposals: Accessing Patented Knowledge for Innovation

E-DRUG: Call for Proposals: Accessing Patented Knowledge for Innovation

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International Development Research Centre (IDRC)
Call for Proposals "Accessing Patented Knowledge for Innovation"

[All correspondence about this Call for Proposals should be directed to: 
Other questions about support for IP research in general from IDRC can be 
directed to Robert Robertson at rrobertson@idrc.ca ]

The Innovation, Technology and Society Program at IDRC is issuing a Call for 
Proposals on the subject "Accessing Patented Knowledge for Innovation". 
Proposals should address how developing countries can access technologies and 
information contained in existing patents to enhance innovative research at the 
national level.

Closing date is November 30, 2007.

Call for Proposals
On the path to development many emerging nations focused on importing 
scientific and technical knowledge from other countries.  Following that, they 
tried to copy and master it.  Working and re-working existing knowledge rather 
than creating new knowledge through research is a predominant activity in 
innovation.  As many technologies and much knowledge are proprietary in nature 
and form the subject matter of patents owned by foreign entities, a key 
national policy instrument is the intellectual property rights regime.  How it 
reflects and balances relevant international commitments with the goal of 
advancing the economic and social rights of its citizens is crucial in 
promoting their best interests. 
This is a Call for Proposals on how developing countries can access 
technologies and information contained in existing patents to enhance 
innovative research at the national level.  Proposals can be made under any one 
of the following three headings:
1. THE RESEARCH EXEMPTION:  Article 30 of TRIPS permits exceptions to the 
exclusive rights of the patent-holder providing it is limited, does not 
prejudice the patent-holder?s legitimate interests or conflict with its normal 
exploitation of the patent.  This can include research on patented technology.  
In some countries it also includes research aimed at the early introduction of 
patented medicines. 
The research exemption is articulated differently in different national legal 
systems.  It can either be contained in a national statute or arise in the 
common law.  Usually it applies to all categories of researchers, though in a 
few countries is limited to private or academic researchers. Many developing 
country laws characterize the exemption as being for experiment, others for 
scientific purposes, and some for education.  Some countries specifically 
exclude commercial purposes.  Others say it can be for technological purposes, 
which points to applied and perhaps eventual commercial use.  Some countries 
have the so-called Bolar exemption that permits using the technology with the 
aim of obtaining prior approval from health regulators for a generic product 
prior to the expiration of the patent. 
It is the diversity of formulations that give rise to the suggestion that the 
research exemption is not formulated with sufficient breadth to take advantage 
of its potential as a spur to innovation.  Studies indicate that the 
pre-existence of a patent may diminish research in a given area due to the fear 
of litigation, the high cost of royalties and the complexity of licensing 
Proposals could address these or other questions:
What is the real impact of the research exemption on research in key sectors 
for developing countries?
Is the productivity of international research networks being reduced by 
restrictive formulations of the research exemption in developed countries? 
How is the research exemption best expressed to promote innovation and 
development-related research and to what extent have developing countries used 
the exemption? 
2. COMPULSORY LICENCES: Article 31 of TRIPS provides for States to grant a 
compulsory licence only where efforts have been unsuccessful to obtain one on 
reasonable commercial terms.  Exceptions to this are cases of national 
emergency or other extreme urgency or in cases of public non-commercial use.  
The license must be non-exclusive, limited in time and scope, and predominantly 
to supply the domestic market.  The owner must be adequately compensated.  In 
policy terms, compulsory licensing is desirable to control high prices on such 
things as medicines and text books, to break anti-competitive behaviour, to 
ensure a market is sufficiently supplied, to ensure a patent is exploited, to 
address an emergency, to address issues relating to dependent patents, and to 
establish a research or industrial base.  
Proposals could address these or other questions:
How can the right to a compulsory license be most effectively and liberally 
framed to permit access to technology for research?
How should developing countries implement the Doha Declaration permitting 
access to patented technologies when facing a health crisis?
Is the patenting of platform technologies preventing work on whole families of 
inventions?  What measures can be taken to overcome that?  
What is the significance of the patents on research tools for use in sectors 
that are key for developing countries?  What can be done to ensure their 
availability, especially to publicly funded organizations?
3. PATENT POOLS:  A patent pool is an agreement between patent-holders to 
license their respective patents to one another or to third parties on a 
non-exclusive basis.  It can be done directly or through an intermediary. 
Patent pools can be mandated by government or arranged by industry where patent 
thickets have developed rendering technological progress difficult; 
historically this occurred in the aircraft and sewing machine industries. In 
biotechnology they have been considered as a means of addressing the perceived 
difficulties created by a growing interdependence among gene patents owned by 
multiple patent holders and increasingly burdensome transaction costs 
associated with gene patent licences.  In general, patent pools can help 
integrate complementary technologies, reduce transaction costs, clear blocking 
positions, avoid costly litigation and promote dissemination.
Patent clearing-houses are special patent pools that cover a particularly broad 
range of technologies and are more likely to rely on a single entity to 
coordinate the administrative functions.  They provide information about the 
patented technologies and often feature knowledgeable industry participants 
able to divide the patents into appropriate categories.  They may also provide 
an arbitration mechanism for monitoring and enforcing contracts.  
Proposals might address these or other questions:
What low-margin research in developing countries would be promoted through the 
use of patent pools?
To what extent can patent pooling address some of the key challenges that IPRs 
may pose for development-related research such as in the health sector?
In what circumstances should patent pooling be mandated by government to permit 
innovative research? 
What has been the impact of patent clearing-houses, how can developing 
countries best benefit from them, and what can be done to establish and sustain 

This call for proposals is limited to developing country institutions.  

The lead researcher and key members of the team should be citizens or residents 
of a developing country. 
Six grants of approximately $75,000 Canadian will be made after the close of 
the competition on November 30, 2007.  

Applications will be judged by IDRC.  

Applications should be made electronically in the format of the competition 
application form found at 
 and sent by email to intellectual-property-rights@idrc.ca.   

Applicants are strongly encouraged to read the following background paper 
entitled ?Accessing Patented Knowledge for Innovation? to assist in addressing 
the issues. The document can be accessed from 


for Proposals - Accessing Patented Knowledge for Innovation 2007-06-27
This CFP can be downloaded in PDF format. 
<http://www.idrc.ca/uploads/user-S/11829737431IPR-CFP-English.pdf>Open file

 form 2007-06-27
Fill out the application form and submit by email to 

 Paper on Accessing Patented Knowledge for Innovation 2007-06-27
Applicants are strongly encouraged to read this background paper to assist in 
addressing the issues of this call for proposals. 

Robert Robertson
Special Advisor (Law and Development)
Email: rrobertson@idrc.ca


Leela McCullough, Ed.D.
Director of Information Services

AED-SATELLIFE Center for Health Information and Technology
30 California Street, Watertown, MA 02472, USA
Tel: +617-926-9400    Fax: +617-926-1212
Email: lmccullough@aed.org
Web: http://www.healthnet.org

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