Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Licenses for humanitarian access

Amanda L. Brewster, Audrey R. Chapman, Stephen A. Hansen, Facilitating Humanitarian Access to Pharmaceutical and Agricultural Innovation, Innovation Strategy Today, 1, 3 (2005). Focusing more on access to patented technology than on access to copyrighted literature. Excerpt:
This paper seeks to raise awareness about the importance of managing IP to facilitate humanitarian use and applications. Our goal is to identify intellectual property approaches that can promote access to and use of health and agricultural product innovations by poor and disadvantaged groups, particularly in low-income countries. The paper encourages more public-sector IP managers to understand and employ strategies that will accomplish these goals. Humanitarian use approaches should become the norm, and we seek to help private-sector licensees understand the rationale and potential benefits behind such strategies. This paper focuses on the pharmaceutical and agricultural sectors, but the principles noted could potentially be applied to other areas as well. There are key moments when technology managers can improve the likelihood that their IP will benefit people in need: when they decide 1) who will receive a license, 2) whether the license will be exclusive, 3) what types of applications will be covered, and 4) how long the duration of the license will be....We acknowledge that improved IP management cannot by itself solve the access crisis. Even if technology managers adopt humanitarian IP management strategies, they will need to connect with development partners who can utilize the protected technologies. In some cases, these partners may not yet exist. But when partners are found, it will be important to establish simple, efficient ways for them to identify technologies that public sector institutions are willing to share. We believe that the number and variety of technologies being managed with humanitarian goals in mind will continue to increase, and so the SIPPI project plans to explore ways to increase the transparency of license terms covering these technologies, thus making this information more widely available to potential beneficiaries.