The USPTO-Pfizer collaboration to change India's laws on patents and test data

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has a joint program with Pfizer to fund and manage seminars in India on "misconceptions of evergreening" and "the importance of regulatory data protection and patent linkage." KEI has submitted a FOIA request to USPTO on this topic, and received a small installment of documents on Friday. Attached to this blog are 4 pages of documents that we received from two meetings held in Mumbai, India on September 9, 2009. Ten journalists and 15 NGOs attended the meetings. The USPTO and Pfizer each paid $3,190 for the days events ($6,380 total).

The title of the meeting was the USTPTO-Pfizer Workshop on Intellectual Property and Innovation in the Pharmaceutical Industry. We were not familiar with such co-branding between Pfizer and USPTO.

The speakers included Dominic Keating from USPTO, Siddhartha Prakash of Pfizer, Dr. P. Pushpangadan from Trivandrum, and Mrs Aruna Day from the Arpana Trust. We are asking for copies of the presentations that each speaker made.

The workshop was part of the USPTO Global Intellectual Property Academy (GIPA) which appears to deserve more scrutiny.

At the bottom of the first page of the "Training Program Form," you can see the categories for recipients of the "training." It should be possible to FOIA the participant lists, agenda and funding arrangements for such programs.

From the USPTO web page on the GIPA:

In 2006, the USPTO established the Global Intellectual Property Academy ("GIPA" or "Academy"). The Academy offers programs on enforcement, patents, trademarks, copyrights. In 2007, USPTO completed construction of a permanent space for GIPA at the Alexandria, Virginia campus. The Academy's programs are designed to meet specific needs to foreign government officials. Through the programs officials are learning and discussing strategies on global intellectual property protection and enforcement.

In 2008, the Academy provided training to more than 4,100 officials from 127 countries on a variety of topics, including IP protection and enforcement, and technology transfer. The Academy also delivers IP training to other stakeholders, including small business owners, US Government officials, and the general public.

The Academy at USPTO is instrumental in achieving the objectives of halting intellectual property theft and advancing IPR policies.

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Setting the record straight

As part of the USPTO's continuing public outreach and awareness about intellectual property issues, the USPTO regularly organizes seminars and roundtables on current issues of interest to promote public discussion and an exchange of ideas among various stakeholders. Such discussions are intended to highlight the role of IP protection and enforcement in those particular countries.

To make sure that we have the participation of knowledgeable stakeholders in those countries, we often invite representatives of both the public and private sectors, as well as nongovernmental organization representatives and IP rights holders, to be speakers. It is our policy not to co-sponsor these events with IP rights holders or those who have actual business before the USPTO. There was, however, a single program late last year in India where a mistake was made and Pfizer was invited to co-sponsor a public discussion program. The USPTO has since taken corrective action so that this will not happen again. Contrary to what you suggest, however, it is not the USPTO's policy or practice to involve private sector rights holders as co-sponsors of our events. We regret that this occurred with respect to the Indian forum, but that was the exception and not the rule.

Peter Pappas
Chief Communications Officer
USPTO