Most-Read IP-Watch Stories Of 2012: India Pharma, Europe, ACTA,
WIPO Technical Assistance, Gene Patents
By William New, Intellectual Property Watch
As 2012 becomes a memory, it is fair to say that the intellectual property rights discussion shifted over the past year, with trade agreements, over-reaching in copyright and patents, and the provision of technical assistance all falling under increased pressure. At least if the most-readIntellectual Property Watch stories of the year are any indication.
Among the top most-read stories was coverage of efforts in India to manage patents on pharmaceuticals, including the Indian government’s issuance of its first compulsory licence for a pharmaceutical, the country’s battle between generic and brand name drug producers, and court cases such as Swiss drug maker Novartis’ challenge of the Indian patent law.
Major developments in Europe also received top following, such as the end of year approval of a European unitary patent and creation of a network of patent courts, and the Parliament’s passage of an orphan works directive. A high-ranking story was about the Pirate Party using the United Nations as a platform to remind policymakers that users own their information.
The beleaguered Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) received significant attention as well, as it was defeated in Europe and encountered resistance elsewhere.
The issue of patenting of genetic resources was consistently popular, with stories about the US Supreme Court and the World Intellectual Property Organization.
And stories about technical assistance to developing countries drew interest, such as a one-sided training session in Africa that was eventually scrapped, and a series of events that dragged WIPO into the heat of US election year politics when it was discovered that WIPO has been giving technology to sanctioned countries like Iran and North Korea. In general, stories about the functioning of WIPO were consistently well read.
Notably, several stories dating back as far as 2009 held their positions among the most-read, including one in Spanish involving an Argentine professor’s published work and the issue of access to education, and another laying out the broadcasting industry’s arguments for a WIPO broadcasting treaty. A 2011 story about US farmers’ legal battles with Monsanto over seeds also continued to attract significant readership.
A special directory of government officials working on intellectual property issues in Geneva garnered a lot of traffic, and it is notable that several of the top articles of the year were not news stories but rather opinion pieces from outside experts.
Surprisingly absent from the top list were the many IP-Watch stories about the World Health Organization. Also seemingly missing is coverage of the highly confidential negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), plus the stunning defeats of the so-called SOPA and PIPA bills in the US at the start of the year.
Finally, several stories in the global public eye also drew readership numbers at Intellectual Property Watch. These included the Apple-Samsung patent dispute, the impact of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, and a World Trade Organization dispute settlement case against Australia for its public health law requiring plain packaging for cigarettes sold in the country.
Broadly speaking, Intellectual Property Watch readers are diverse and well-distributed across the globe. During the past 12 months, we published hundreds of stories on a wide range of topics, with the heaviest emphasis on the international institutions in Geneva. Some stories are placed behind password, for subscribers (free for most developing countries), so access to them is more limited. Yet even some protected stories are among the most-read.
As we head into 2013, the year ahead looks more interesting than ever for intellectual property rights, as companies and governments place high value on these assets, courts wade deeper into the issues, and users and public interest advocates continue to work to ensure balance in the process. Stay tuned as Intellectual Property Watch brings you the most important stories of 2013 and as always, let us know what you think!