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June 29, 2005

Putting Scientific Results Into the Public Domain is the Technology-based Public Demand

"Henrik Egelyng, Evolution of capacity for institutionalized management of intellectual property at international agricultural research centers: A strategic case study, CheckBiotech.org, June 14, 2005. Excerpt: 'In contrast to the IP offices of private companies and semipublic entities, the objective of IRRI's [International Rice Research Institute's] IP administration was not to preserve the legal identity of innovations as intellectual property. On the contrary, for IRRI-generated innovations, the objective was to ensure that these innovations were put into the public domain. IRRI's policy on intellectual property combines IP provisions with provisions dealing with access to germplasm. Emphasizing free availability of germplasm and information, inventions, and biological material developed at IRRI, the policy provides for any necessity to seek IP protection in order to secure the availability of advanced biological technologies or materials to developing countries... Some universities around the developing world remain strictly public-sector institutions, providing public goods in the classical sense of the word and bringing their science to the public domain. To such a university, the term protection would mean to protect an innovation from being appropriated by any single private-sector or semipublic interest wishing to patent it. Universities in this category are found all over the world. However, there are probably far fewer such universities in this category today than just five years ago. The objective of any IP administration in this structural setting is not primarily a defensive one, with a view to destroy the novelty of innovations. Instead, the overriding objective is to bring new knowledge to the public domain based on scientific (rather than legal) criteria and merits. The editors are scientists, not lawyers. If an organization such as IRRI were to institute a defensive publication unit (DPU), contrary to the scientific journals in which the findings of IRRI researchers are reported, publications coming out of a DPU would not be edited by scientists and their peers. The staff of a DPU would collaborate with IP professionals not with a view to scientific merit, but rather to provide the specific details required to effectively make IRRI innovations prior art. The objective of a DPU would thus be to make enabling disclosures of IRRI science outputs, thereby making sure that IRRI outputs remain available in the public domain rather than being appropriated by others.'"

Source: Peter Suber. Putting scientific results into the public domain. Open Access News Blog (15 June 2005) [FullText]

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