WIPO to Host Symposium on Public Sector IP Management in the Life Sciences

Geneva, November 24, 2008

As part of a series of information sessions on life sciences and intellectual property (IP) policy, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is hosting a symposium on December 15, 2008 at its Geneva headquarters to explore national and institutional options for public sector management of IP in the life sciences.

Public research institutions account for a significant share of the research undertaken in the life sciences. Public funds also support a large amount of life sciences research by others.  Given the direct public interest in this research and its results, coherent IP strategies and policies will help to ensure that benefits from new technologies resulting from these investments, for instance, in fields such as public health, agriculture and the environment, flow to the public. Measuring the broader social and economic impact of research and bridging the gap between the laboratory and the market are constant challenges for policymakers and research managers. 
The options for managing publicly funded research and resulting IP are wide-ranging.  They include the simple transfer of research results to the public domain, licensing strategies, partnerships with the private sector, dedicated vehicles for technology development (for instance spin-off companies), and emerging ideas such as open innovation and patent pooling structures.  How best to work through these options, how to structure appropriate innovation pathways, and how practically to manage IP for optimal delivery of societal benefits, are complex questions. There is now, however, a rich and diverse body of practical experience from many public sector institutions, and strong interest in learning from this experience.
The symposium will explore different national approaches, institutional policies and public-private partnerships, with a view to learning from practical experience. It will provide a forum for informal discussion on these themes with the aim of reviewing the central issues in public sector IP management in the life sciences. The meeting will help identify the core options, at the strategic and project levels, review the implications of each, and will consider the factors to weigh when working through these options. It will seek to identify the factors that have influenced policy choices to assist general understanding of policy options in this domain.
WIPO’s series of symposia on life sciences and IP policy aims to enhance understanding of topical issues of concern to policymakers by providing a forum for stakeholders (including international policymakers, government agencies, legislators, delegates, civil society and the private sector) to exchange information and ideas on IP as it relates to the life sciences. They are designed to promote better understanding of the role and practical importance of the IP system to the life sciences and its potential in supporting the development of public policy within this rapidly evolving field.  Information on the full series of symposia is available at https://www.wipo.int/patentscope/en/lifesciences/. 
The event is open to the general public and is free-of-charge. Anyone interested in attending the meeting is requested to complete the on-line registration form. 
For more information, please contact the News and Media Division at WIPO:
  • Tel: (+41 22) 338 81 61 / 338 72 24
  • E-mail