Patent Concerns: compulsory licensing of patents in India

India’s Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) recently unveiled a discussion paper on licensing of patents. In an article published by Frontline, Triple Crisis blogger C.P. Chandrasekhar analyses the paper and argues that the discussion paper on compulsory licensing of patents will have achieved its purpose if it can lead to a proactive policy in the area of drugs and health.

“India having signed on to the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) under the World Trade Organisation (WTO), having suitably modified its Patents and Trade Marks Acts and having enacted the Designs and Geographical Indications Act, has a transparent regime for the protection of intellectual property (IP). However, any regime that protects IP must provide for ways to prevent the misuse of that protection or of its use in situations where it obviously hurts the public interest. One of the accepted and tested mechanisms to deal with situations of improper use is compulsory licensing. The paper claims to be motivated by the desire to “develop a predictable environment” for the use of such measures.”

“While the DIPP’s immediate concern is the issue of compulsory licensing, the implications of its analysis go beyond that. The effort to initiate this debate and set its tone needs to be lauded.”

Read the full Frontline Article

Recovery: Back to Normal?

Alejandro Nadal

The history of the United States is rather exceptional. This is the only country that has always lived under the aegis of capitalism. No slavery as the organizing principle, nor feudal lords in their castles. Just the anxious eye of capital. Maybe this is why, more than in other country, the most important source of political legitimacy resides in the ability of the power elite to maintain high living standards. And when the system that allows for this is in trouble, the power elite needs to renovate its source of political legitimacy.

This sometimes has implied the redefinition of the social compact, as in the Thirties, when Roosevelt’s New Deal established a new foundation for income distribution and for labor relations. The American right never forgave that affront and was always ready to revert that social pact. The favorable conjuncture presented itself in the Seventies and Eighties.

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September 13, 2010 | Posted in: Uncategorized | Comments Closed

Atrazine Ban Would Not Ruin the Corn Belt

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is re-evaluating the regulation of atrazine, a powerful weed killer that is banned in Europe, but widely used by U.S. corn growers. Based on his 2007 study on the subject, Triple Crisis blogger Frank Ackerman’s recent op-ed article in the Des Moines Register questions the economic benefit of atrazine use.

“My research on the economics of atrazine shows that its benefits are greatly exaggerated. Corn yields and farm incomes would barely be affected by switching from atrazine to the next-best alternatives.

“Why is atrazine controversial? Everyone agrees that it kills weeds. But there are two rival stories about its health risks. Industry-sponsored research and agribusiness lobbies say that atrazine is completely safe and has been used for decades without harm to humans. Independent university researchers and peer-reviewed scientific literature say that it is a powerful endocrine disrupter that makes male frogs into hermaphrodites at very low concentrations and causes neural damages and cancer in laboratory animals.”

Read the full Des Moines Register column.

See Ackerman’s original study on atrazine.

A New Multidimensional Poverty Index

John Hammock, Guest Blogger

The Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) has developed a new international measure of poverty – the Multidimensional Poverty Index or MPI – for the 20th Anniversary edition of the United Nations Development Program’s flagship Human Development Report. The new innovative index goes beyond a traditional focus on income to reflect the multiple deprivations that a poor person faces with respect to education, health and living standards. The new index has generated some controversy as to its merits.

Poverty is traditionally measured by income.  And yet the poor are poor not just because of low income. They are poor because they have no access to health care, to education, to good nutrition.  But income has been used for some time now as a proxy for poverty. And yet, it is not a sufficient proxy.  OPHI has now developed a simple, robust, user-friendly multidimensional approach to measuring poverty.

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Gender and Green Governance

Bina Agarwal, Guest Blogger

Environmental governance as a field is increasingly engaging economists, especially those interested in institutional analysis. The 2009 Nobel Prize in Economics to Elinor Ostrom for her pioneering work on governing the commons is one indicator of this engagement. However, neither economists, nor typically political scientists studying environmental collective action and governance, have paid much attention to gender. At the same time, research in other disciplines which brings a gender perspective to these issues has focused mainly on women’s relative absence from governance institutions and the factors underlying that absence.

But suppose we turned this focus on its head to ask: what difference would women’s presence make in these institutions? How would that affect institutional functioning?

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