28 September 2010

Review – WIPO Goes Troppo with New Services

The past week has seen the launch of not one, but two, new information services by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (whose imposing glass headquarters in Geneva is pictured).

First, on 20 September 2010, WIPO Lex was announced.

And then, because too much searchable IP information is never enough, WIPO announced the launch of IP Advantage.

Need to know more?  Then read on!


WIPO's announcement describes WIPO Lex as:

...an on-line global intellectual property (IP) reference resource which provides up-to-date information on national IP laws and treaties. This centralized search facility, which offers a user-friendly interface and functionalities, is in line with one of the Organization’s strategic goals, namely to serve as a world reference source for IP information and analysis.
WIPO Lex purportedly "features the complete IP legal texts for over 60 countries with substantial coverage for a further 100 legal systems."

We have had a bit of a play with it, and our first impressions suggest that there may be some teething problems.  For example, we searched for Australian texts relating to Patents, which resulted in a list in which the most recent legislation was the Patents (Personal Property Securities) Act (Amendment) 2010, dated 6 July 2010.  No current consolidated Patents Act was listed, although selecting the amending Act does provide access to a link to a consolidated Act.  Unfortunately, this is the Patents Act 1990 including amendments up to 4 March 2010.  The PDF link suggests that this document is 40 KB in size.  It is, in fact, about 530 KB.

We also searched for US patent texts, which provides a link to the United States Code, Title 35, as amended September 2007.  The notes indicate that:

[t]his document, containing 35 U.S.C. and an index to the consolidated patent laws, was obtained from Appendix L of the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (8th edition, revision 6, September 2007), which is published by the United States Government Printing Office on behalf of the Patent and Trademark Office.
On our system, the PDF document failed to load, producing an I/O error.

This is a great idea in principle, but in practice we wonder how WIPO expects to maintain it as a reliable and up-to-date repository of the huge number of ever-changing acts and regulations of all of its member states?

WIPO bills IP Advantage as:
...a new database which profiles the intellectual property (IP) experiences of inventors, creators, entrepreneurs, and researchers. This tool aims to promote a better understanding of how IP is created and protected, and how inventors, creators and society at large benefit from the IP system.

The IP Advantage database is a fully searchable one-stop gateway to the wealth of case study material available on WIPO’s website. The case studies featured in the database demonstrate how IP works in the real world and how IP rights - such as patents, marks and copyright - can be used to promote innovation in both developed and developing countries.
This is a great initiative, apparently "based on a proposal and funding from the Japanese government".  We are regularly asked about examples of intellectual property and intellectual assets "at work", so we hope to be able to refer clients to this resource.

In contrast to the rather confusing structure of the WIPO Lex content, we found IP Advantage very easy to use, leading us to all sorts of interesting case studies from around the world (including Australia).  Try not to miss this surprising example in the IT field, from Bangladesh.  And, while not patent-related, the Ethiopia and Starbucks "coffee wars" story is a fascinating read.


Another WIPO resource, which is not new but which we only recently discovered, is the index of Practices of National/Regional Offices.

This page includes links to the examination manuals (or equivalents) of various patent offices, and is an invaluable reference for practitioners and sophisticated applicants.  When we discovered it, the Canadian links were broken, but a brief submission via the Contact form soon saw that fixed!

In any event, keeping a few links up-to-date should be much more practicable than the massive task involved in maintaining the WIPO Lex database.


Courtenay Brinckerhoff said...

Thanks! I've bookmarked the Practices page alreaady.

Courtenay Brinckerhoff said...

Thanks! I've bookmarked the Practices page alreaady.

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