Intellectual property rights (IPR) decisions upstream can play a key role in ensuring widespread access to innovations. In gaining access to technologies from both public and private sectors, IPR can be an important consideration. Organizations working to make modern technologies more readily available in the developing world must also assess how to use IP strategically to reach downstream goals of development, manufacturing, and delivery. Sometimes the optimal choice is broad and free dissemination, but other times real impact on poverty requires using IP rights as incentives to engage other organizations’ resources and capital.
PIPRA has provided assistance to various partners to implement their commercialization strategies in the past. We have been especially committed to working with public sector agencies and private philanthropic foundations surrounding the commercialization of products designed to meet social and environmental needs.
For instance, in 2013 and 2014, PIPRA worked with the United States Department of Energy (DOE) to provide an intellectual property and freedom to operate (FTO) analysis of 15 essential technologies for the development of alternative fuel sources. These analyses were designed to inform the R&D strategies of institutions involved in the commercialization of advanced biofuel technologies under the DOE’s ARPA-E PETRO program. The overall purpose of PIPRA’s analyses was to identify potential third party IP rights related to common core technologies that could present obstacles to future biofuel R&D. Additionally, the evaluations were designed to offer ARPA-E PETRO institutions a better understanding of the patent trends, areas of high patent activity, and potential commercial partners and/or competitors in the technology sectors where they intend to introduce their biofuel products.
Additionally, since 2008, PIPRA conducted several intellectual property analyses for the Gates Foundation surrounding genetically modified (GM) crops designed to meet humanitarian needs. For instance, PIPRA issued a report providing analyses of intellectual property (IPR) and tangible property rights (TPR) related to the “Bio-Cassava Plus” project carried out by the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and other collaborators. The Bio-Cassava Plus report examined technologies related to three lines of R&D, including a beta-carotene enhanced cassava variety; an iron enhanced cassava variety; and a protein enhanced cassava variety. Likewise, PIPRA analyzed the IPR and TPR landscape related to the “Banana21: Micronutrient biofortified cooking bananas for East Africa” project led by the Queensland University of Technology and the National Agricultural Research Organization of Uganda. Finally, PIPRA has twice studied the IP and tangible property rights surrounding the “Golden Rice” beta-carotene enhanced rice project, led by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). Underlying all of these analyses was PIPRA’s intention to facilitate the development of crops designed to meet humanitarian ends, especially to combat malnutrition and thereby enhance food and nutritional security in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.
Finally, in 2013 PIPRA conducted IPR and TPR analyses for the Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority (Teagasc) project. At that time, Teagasc was pursuing a method of creating genetically engineered products using “Ensifer-Mediated Transformation (EMT)”, an alternative to the widely employed Agrobacterium-Mediated Transformation (AMT) technology. The use of EMT was envisioned as a means to avoid the complicated IP barriers that surrounded AMT, and possibly offer regulatory advantages for plant transformation.