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News Roundup

June 2006

US $4 Million in Prizes for Young Scientists

Nearly 1,500 young scientists aged 12 to 20 from 47 countries competed for US $4 million in scholarships and awards at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, presented by Agilent Technologies, from May 7 to 10 in Indianapolis, USA.

The projects submitted tackled some of science's most challenging problems, among them developing effective alternative energy sources, finding treatments for autism and other learning disabilities, reducing contaminants in the water supply and reducing electronic waste. "More than a science competition, the Intel ISEF is an investment in the next generation of scientists," said Brenda Musilli, Intel Corporation director of education.

One thousand expert judges, all with a Ph.D. or equivalent or at least six years of related professional experience, volunteered their time to judge the projects. Among the finalists, 15 percent already hold or have applied for a U.S. patent, and 47 percent are female.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Intel's title sponsorship of the fair, which has been administered since 1950 by Science Service, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to advance the understanding and appreciation of science around the globe. (For more information and an exhaustive list of winners, see www.sciserv.org .)

Source www.intel.com/pressroom


CIPIH Report on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property Rights

The final report of the independent Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation and Public Health (CIPIH), was published on April 3, 2006. The CIPIH was set up by Member States of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2003 to investigate how to improve access to medicines and health products for diseases that mainly affect developing countries, in the light of international and national rules on patent rights.

Among more than 50 recommendations in the CIPIH report were recommendations addressed to:

  • Governments regarding: provisions in bilateral trade agreements which could affect access to medicines; funding for research projects run by public-private partnerships; advance purchase schemes to contribute to the development of vaccines, medicines and diagnostics; incorporation of digital libraries of traditional medical knowledge into patent office data; elimination of tariffs and taxes on healthcare products.
  • Governments of developing countries regarding: promotion of health research in line with public health needs; use of research exemption as part of patent law; investment in health delivery infrastructure; financing of the purchase of medicines and vaccines; use of compulsory licensing provisions to promote innovation or access to medicines.
  • WHO and international agencies regarding: a global plan of action to secure more sustainable funding to develop new products and make them more accessible; the creation of patent pools to facilitate product development; monitoring the impact of IP rights from a public health perspective.
  • Companies regarding: pricing policies, and the filing or enforcing of patents in low-income developing countries.

The World Health Assembly will debate the issues raised in the report from May 22 to 27, 2006, and decide whether to adopt a resolution on the subject. For the text of the CIPIH report see: www.who.int/intellectualproperty.

Source: Bulletin of the World Health Organization (May 2006)


Apples and Beatles

Apple Corps

The judgement in a long-running dispute between Apple Corps, the record label owned by the Beatles, and Apple Computer has cleared Apple Computer of trademark infringement.

Apple Corps filed the lawsuit in 2003 after Apple Computer launched the iTunes online music store. The Beatles’ company charged that Apple Computer had violated a 1991 co-existence agreement, which barred the computer company from using the apple name and logo for products "whose principal application is music."

In a ruling at the High Court of England and Wales on May 8, Mr. Justice Anthony Mann held that Apple Computer had used the Apple logo to represent services which were "a form of electronic shop" rather than the actual music. "What [Apple Computer] does is to take a musical recording, in the form of a digital version, and then carry out some technical processes to the file. That is not the sort of activity that a record company or record label would necessarily carry out in relation to musical content." He concluded that the use of the apple logo "does not suggest a relevant connection with the creative work," and that it was "a reasonable and fair use on and in connection with the service."

Steve Jobs, chief executive of Apple Computer, welcomed the judgement. "We are glad to put this disagreement behind us," he said in a statement to the press. "We have always loved the Beatles, and hopefully we can now work together to get them on the iTunes Music Store." (Apple Corps has always refused to license any of the Beatles’ music to be sold on iTunes).

Apple Corp’s managing director, Neil Aspinall, said in a prepared statement that Apple Corp disagreed with the judge’s conclusion. "During the course of the trial we demonstrated just how extensively Apple Computer had broken the agreement. We will accordingly be filing an appeal," he said.


European Inventors of the Year

Federico Faggin (left), inventor of the first microprocessor chip, receives the Lifetime Achivement award. (Photo: Rupert Warren, copyright European Patent Office)

Inventors should be "treated like pop stars," said Alain Pompidou, President of the European Patent Office (EPO), in his opening address to the European Inventors of the Year on May 3. This was the first such awards ceremony to be organized jointly by the EPO and the European Commission.

The awards gala was held as part of a two-day conference in Brussels to explore the role of patents in promoting innovation in Europe. High-level experts from Europe, the United States and Asia attended the conference to discuss the future of the European patent system and the challenges presented by China's emergence.

European Inventor awards were granted in six categories: industry; small and medium-sized enterprises; university and research institutions; new European Union member States; non-European countries; lifetime achievement. Four winners were from the life sciences and health sector, while the lifetime achievement trophy went to Federico Faggin, the inventor of the first microprocessor chip .

The WIPO Magazine is intended to help broaden public understanding of intellectual property and of WIPO’s work, and is not an official document of WIPO. The designations employed and the presentation of material throughout this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of WIPO concerning the legal status of any country, territory or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. This publication is not intended to reflect the views of the Member States or the WIPO Secretariat. The mention of specific companies or products of manufacturers does not imply that they are endorsed or recommended by WIPO in preference to others of a similar nature that are not mentioned.