Interview with Dr. Sabina Voogd-Netherlands Foreign Ministry
Duration: 00:24:30; Aspect Ratio: 1.366:1; Hue: 54.430; Saturation: 0.038; Lightness: 0.465; Volume: 0.055; Cuts per Minute: 0.082; Words per Minute: 101.414
Summary: Tracing the story of the global struggle to make HIV/AIDS drugs more affordable and available, A Human Question raises key questions of whether private ownership of knowledge can be at the cost of human life?
patents and access to medicine
Sabina Voogd introduces herself as working for the Dutch Ministeries of foreign affairs on intellectual property rights and development.
(setting up, small talk)... My name is Sabina Voogd. I work in the Dutch ministries of foreign affairs on intellectual property rights and development and I am here to visit the WIPO meeting on intellectual property and management.
dutch ministeries of foreign affairs on intellectual property rights and development
Talks about the support of the Netherlands for the use of IP rights.
... oh this is a very broad question....and you realize that. .... Ah .... Netherlands is a trading country ....so in general...the Netherlands supports the use of IP rights to protect innovations that have been and are still being done. but Netherlands has also an interest in coherence for development which means that we have realized that we must take interest of developing countries into account when we are making our policies ... that is not only on Agriculture, on fisheries but also on IP rights and this is why I am here in this meeting for WIPO.
use of ip rights
proposal ......the proposal of the friends of development is a follow up proposal on the general assembly that has made a broad statement that WIPO needs to have a development agenda and now ... the new proposal is much more concrete on what it actually needs. For instance transfer of technology is something that we....that I've at least spoken about for the last 10 years. It becomes a sort of mantra. You are always "oh ya! Transfer of technology" and then you don't really know what it means ...its something with companies ... its something with giving out stuff to developing countries. And in this process you see very concrete points of... exchange of students, hiring of people for a short time ...so that they can acquire knowledge about technology and take it back to their own country... so I think that's a good thing about this proposal. I think it's very timely to have this proposal in the WIPO.
Since it became more and more an organization for the promotion if the IP rights which cannot be a goal in itself because IP is a means to achieve developments and prosperity. And it is time that we now discuss the relation between IP rights and developments, how they influence each other because it is not always so that IP rights need more development...and ... we also need to discuss what the outcomes of discussion or the relation between IP and development mean for the norm setting in WIPO for the technical assistance is being given and also for the structure of WIPO. So I think it's a very timely, it's a very clear document and there are also other proposals from the table of course...so the united states, of the United Kingdom and Mexico. US and Mexico focus very much on technical assistance. UK is more broad but, not
as concrete as the proposal by Argentina and Brazil.
Discusses the proposal that the friends of development group have presented to the general assembly.
exchange of students
friends of development
ip rights and development
transfer of technology
it depends indeed on your level of development and I have just read a study that is done by two economists from the world bank. Keith Mascus and mr Fink in which they have researched the relation between IP rights and development. One thing they say the link is not as clear as everybody states it is. Second thing they say...if you are for instance a middle income company and you set assistance for IP protection it is likely that you will have more foreign investments into your country but if you are a poor country like Zambia and you set up an excellent IP rights system there is very little chance that lots of IP investments will come in because there are many other factors that influence investments for instance in your country. What I have also seen is that India has changed its patent laws and you saw...that so ... there are two sides of the discussion. One side is looking at the production of generic medicines and the export of it to developing countries and worrying if it still would be possible. And it looks like ....not so bad actually. And the other side was very much applauding, the strengthening of patent law in India saying that this would give many opportunities to foreign countries to invest in India particularly for research and development , for medicines and I think that also true.
So it depends very much on your level of development how much IP can help for you and then still you need indeed also to consider the costs of installing the system of enforcing it of having law suits and all these things ...and... there are also public interest areas which you might want to take out of the patent system. Public health is a good example, education might be an example. So each country must think itself not only what their level of development is but also what they find important to protector to use differently than in the IP system, Also true for developed countries.
Discusses two studies that research the relation between IP rights and development by two economists named Keith Mascus and Fink.
assistance for ip protection
ip rights system
level of development
middle income company
public interest areas
relation between ip rights and development
research and development
why two bodies......
I am not too sure if I need to go back to the history...because... of course ...WIPO was the body that was responsible for the IP rights and in the 1980's of the last century there was a dis-satisfaction by some American companies about the ...room that WIPO was giving to developing countries. Actually they called the WIPO at that time the instrument of international socialism.... Which was... if you look at...WIPO now you are quite surprised how that came to be. It made 80 companies only to decide that they weren't satisfied with WIPO anymore and they would like another organization to pick up on the discussion on IP rights and they chose the GATT which was...would...become the world trade organization as the forum for IP rights and they managed to convince their European colleagues in business who weren't convinced and they talked to commissions and then convinced friends of IP and then it happened. So then there are two forums now. There is TRIPS and then there is WIPO and WIPO started to worry ...of course about their own role in IP rights. They started to take a more technical approach and they...on the other hand they also thought "well...we are also her to work on the furthering of IP rights" and raised all the standards. And that's actually what the have been doing in the last few years while in the TRIPS counsel which is about trade related IP rights there is much more discussion already about the relation for development and that... of course ...has to do with the history of WTO in WIPO so at the moment we need development agenda in the WTO. People said "well...you have this committee why don't you discuss it over there"...and ...you saw that ...actually it was needed to have a failure. You had Seattle, you had Cancun where developing countries said that if you are going to talk without us ...you are going to be in big trouble and that actually changed a lot in WTO, and in the beginning of the week when I came here to WIPO...I was sort of thinking the same thing might happen in WIPO if you don't give developing countries a serious forum to discuss the problem in a serious way then we might have a sort of WIPO Seattle or something like that ...so I am looking.... We are now in the third day of the meeting ...I think there are some proposals on the table, which can help further discussions in a serious way and so I am actually more hopeful than when I started.
yeah... I understand your question. Bilateral agreements that undermine multilateral agreements are a problem...and there is actually not much you can do about it. As a member state of WIPO you cannot say that "the US shouldn't do it in this way"... There are people saying that. They are dissatisfied with it and it should better not be done but it is indeed undermining the discussions and decisions that are being held and done in multilateral bodies like the trade organizations. And for now the only thing you can do is signal it and say that "we see this and that and we are not satisfied with it"
it is a very good question ...because it has to do with how many people countries have in a mission ...for instance some countries have lots of people , some countries have a few...and always when I talk with representative countries I ask them "are you in WIPO too" or "are you in TRIPS too"...and sometimes they are in a lot of organizations because they have like two people to cover up the United Organization + WTO or they have somebody else doing the other organizations. So I ask how much discussion they had amongst each other ...its ...not so much as you would hope. I mean its clear that these organizations influence each other and that you need to be very clever to see the things that you are doing in one organization and the influence it has on the other organization and IP rights are nearly everywhere ...they are in health discussions, in genetic resources...traditional knowledge , internet you see....they are everywhere . so you have to be really careful to see what you are saying in which forum and if it goes the right way. So its actually also a part of my task to coherence with also consistency to see that people say the same thing in the same forum and that they go in the direction they want to go and they wont give away flexibility that they have negotiated in the other forum.
it needs to be found out but it was actually a question that many people had asked ...of course ...like what us happening. people always say that "oh India and brazil have been separated" so this is ... you see already fragmentation in the developing countries and I am glad that there is now a message that India is now sort of back in the group because it worried a lot of people ...I have to say!
Netherlands is of course a part of the European Union so we represent the European Union position but since I have this special task on coherence... I try to influence the European position as much as I can take into account the interest of developing countries.
I should think really hard what that Dutch position is on that because we have lot of biotech science in Netherlands so I wont be surprised if the Netherlands wont allow some patents on life so.. but I also know that many developing countries have a big problem with that and particularly the African groups that have done may proposals in the TRIPS also stating this over and over again. Lets say as a government person I would have to defend a patent but as a government person who works for developing countries think , I know I would say developing countries are very much against it.
its two years now that I have worked on patent and I started off with the thought that "ok if you have o good idea and you spend years on making something and you invent something, its very sour if someone says "oh thank you" and takes it away from you" so I understand that you protect your innovation in some way. What I am worried about is the way...about the patent sort of stamp on anything without any distinction about what kind of product it is. I mean a patent bottle opening machine is something else from a patent medicine. I think you should differentiate there and I think that patent should not be carved in stone as a property right which is forever and always and everywhere because there are some situations ...in which, I can imagine that protecting a patent is not good for the good of all and...if ....it is for the good of one company or whatever...so it is a sort of... I think a sort of monopolistic rights and you should be really careful with it., and particularly because things like Jamie Love was saying ....things are changing in society the whole software the whole exchange of information...the Google machine...He sets an eg. He said we could never have imagined what this does with patent rights ... we should think the solution now.
well.. there must be something coming out of the private sector . I am sure they have found some stuff but its indeed...the effect of research and that you see now ...the silliest things that are being found out, there are 10 companies to jump on it to patent it because they would in a later stage like to make money from it ...so I think that's a very bad thing about patenting
it has to do with the definition that WIPO makes on NGO's . for WIPO civil society groups NGO's are the groups that are related to intellectual property rights and like many other international groups there is this image of NGO's as a ward of monkeys ...you know with sandals and there is a big fear about it. Also NGO's bring up items which are not in the technical realm of WIPO so if MSF starts to talk about access to medicines ...and how important it is , there is no department in WIPO for excess medicines so they worry because they don't know what to do with it. It makes their work more difficult actually and I can say that. Of course it makes their work more difficult but it is also to show WIPO that IP rights is not a technical thing.. it's not an end in itself it's a means and with this means you will reach all other areas in society like health, like research, like education which are important and I am convinced that we need the vice of the civil society to show us what is the effect on all the other realms of society and then we have to deal with it in some way.
at the beginning of the week the secretariat seemed to be really worried about discussions. They had taken no position no matter what so ever because they were too scared to say anything about this. The discussions are now going in such a way that I could see the possibilities to discuss the relation between IP rights and development norm setting technical systems and the role of WIPO in it. And ... I am afraid that WIPO will have to go on with whatever happens because WIPO should be like all other UN organizations. It's not a secretariat that decides how IP is good for us. It is the members that make use of IP and ask WIPO to help them to facilitate them with international agreement on that. So that's how it should be.
I think it's very unlikely that countries will withdraw because countries are also in a status quo, so they will reform rather than reject.
No I think I've had the opportunity to say nearly everything. (conclusion; small talk)