Posted on October 21, 2008 in FC, SU Law by Brian RoweComments Off

This is the beginning of a series of short articles I am writing for the Seattle Univeristy Law Prolific Reporter (PR). The publication is a weekly news paper for the law school, it is only available offline at this point.

In late fall of last year Seattle University School of Law became one of the few law schools in the nation to have a Students for Free Culture (SFFC) chapter. At the time, only Harvard Law School and George Mason Law School had law students involved in the movement.  All other chapters were undergrad chapters.  Since starting the SFFC chapter, the board members have noticed that there is some opposition to and confusion about SFFC.  I joined Seattle University because of the focus on public interest and social justice. During my first year of law school, the public interest paradigm did not appear to extend to extra circular activities focused on intellectual property.  However, I was able to connect with some amazing faculty including and the visiting professor Elizabeth Townsend-Gard (whose copyright class I sat in on as a 1L).  These next few articles are designed to explain what SFFC is and why we need to care about public interest in the realm of copyright, patents and technology.

The second national Free Culture conference was held on October 11th and 12th at Berkley, it was attend by 270 students from through the US and abroad.  The focus for the conference was to set a national agenda had identified four areas of focus for the organization.  Before the conference students engaged in a nation discussion online and identified 4 areas of interest to SFFC.  They are best summarized by my summer roommate and fellow intern at Creative Commons, Tim Hwang: 1) Create a preemptive ultimatum around creative works to defend fair use 2) Connect with the development community (including access to essential medicine) 3) Encourage open access 4) Promote data portability.  By the end of the first day we had heard speakers on each of these main topics and were ready to take action.

The second day of the confernce was an un-conference (like barcamps) where the participants created there own panels.  One full track was dedicated to creating a campaign where students could take action. Students chose to focus on open access due to the broad reach and the focus on public interest generally.  This campaign gives student the opportunity to engage universities on topics ranging from how we use patents to access to information and knowledge.  SFFC believes that education and knowledge should be available to everyone regardless of social or economic position, this campaign is focused on opening up access to a broader audience.  The day ended with a written declaration of our values around open access and a commitment to run a 1 year campaign bring these issues up at all universities. Here is the text of the declaration:

The Wheeler Declaration

An open university is one in which

  1. The research the university produces is open access.
  2. The course materials are open educational resources.
  3. The university embraces free software and open standards.
  4. If the university holds patents, it readily licenses them for free software, essential medicines, and the public good.
  5. The university network reflects the open nature of the Internet.

Note: “university” includes all parts of the community: students, faculty, and administration.

This campaign with be used to grade and rank universities based on the above criteria.  After universities are graded, SFFC will develop action plans for dialogue with the universities to improve their scores and help move the universities to a more open model of education.
Final note: I am an IP geek. If you ever see me on campus in my black hat and kilt feel free to approach me and talk talk about IP issues I am always willing to engage in banter.  I also write daily at Freedomforip.org/blog/ and SeattleHumanRightsNetwork.org.

Brian Rowe

PS: I will be trying to get the PR to print online also.

Posted on May 19, 2008 in SFFC, SU Law, Tux by Brian RoweComments Off

Come by and play with the OLPC or steal some FSF and CC swag.

Posted on April 15, 2008 in Mueller, patents, Pubilc Interest, SU Law by Brian RoweComments Off

MuellerJ

The Evolution of India’s Patent Regime: Implications for Public Health and Pharmaceutical Innovation.

In 2005 Professor Mueller spent time in India studying the changes India to comply with World Trade Organization(WTO) standards, primarily compliance with TRIPS. This was a drastic change as India traditionally did not grant patents on pharmaceuticals. Only about 5 percent of the populace in India had health insurance. During the time of Colonial rule, British-imposed patent statutes caused a scarcity of drugs and increased external control over distribution. After independence, India passed a new patent act that prohibited patents on any medicinal substance. Most recently India has joined the WTO and TRIPS which has prompted India to change its domestic law to allow patents for all inventions including drugs. Generics made before 2005 are not affected by the new patent laws. 80 percent of new drug patents in India are patents from outside entities. The first Indian patent was granted to PEGASYS a swiss drug that fights Hepatits C. 11 million citizens a year in India suffer from Hepatitus C. The cost for the PEGASYS treatment in India is $10,000 a year. 80 percent of the citizens live on $2 a day or less.

India’s Patent act has a unique provision designed to prevent evergreening :

Section 3 (d) “the mere discovery of a new form of a known substance which does not result in the enhancement of the known efficacy of that substance or the mere discovery of any new property or new use for a known substance or of the mere use of a known process, machine or apparatus unless such known process results in a new product or employs at least one new reactant. Explanation – For the purposes of this clause, salts, esters, ethers, polymorphs, metabolites, pure form, particle size, isomers, mixtures of isomers, complexes, combinations and other derivatives of known substance shall be considered to be same substance, unless they differ significantly in properties with regard to efficacy”

Novartis AG v. Union of India challenged the legality of section 3(d) under TRIPS. The court passed on this issue stating that this was a question for the WTO.

Q: does the patent act encourage Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)?

A:FDI is probably more affected by other factors such as the lower cost of skilled labor. For example a chemist in India is only paid 20% of what she is paid in the US.

Here are the slides from the presentation:

For more information check out her paper on the same topic:

The Tiger Awakens: The Tumultuous Transformation of India’s Patent System and the Rise of Indian Pharmaceutical Innovation, 68 University of Pittsburgh L. Rev. 491 (2008), available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=923538. (Registration required)