Odek on TRIPS and Developing Countries: Towards a New IP World Order?

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This blogger has come across a new publication in international intellectual property (IP) law and practice titled “TRIPS and Developing Countries: Towards a New IP World Order?” edited by Professors Gustavo Ghidini, Rudolph J.R. Peritz and Marco Ricolfi. The publishers of the book Edward Elgar Publishing have posted the following description of the book:-

“TRIPS reflects the dominant view that enforcing strong intellectual property rights is necessary to solve problems of trade and development. The global ensemble of authors in this collection ask, how can TRIPS mature further into an institution that supports a view of economic development which incorporates the human rights ethic already at work in the multilateralist geopolitics driving international relations? In particular, how can these human rights, seen as encompassing a whole ‘new’ set of collective interests such as public health, environment, and nutrition, provide a pragmatic ethic for shaping development policy? Some chapters address these questions by describing recent successes, while others propose projects in which these human rights can provide ethical ground for influencing the forces at play in development policies.

This stimulating book will strongly appeal to policy makers, academics, and students seeking to understand how the ‘new’ human rights can inform efforts to reconfigure intellectual property rights as an engine for fair and just economic development.”

Honourable Justice Prof. James Odek of the Court of Appeal has contributed a chapter to this book titled: “The Illusion of TRIPS Agreement to Promote Creativity and Innovation in Developing Countries: Case Study on Kenya”. Recently, the Journal of Intellectual Property Law and Practice (JIPLP) has published an excellent review of this book penned by fellow blogger Aurelia Schultz. In this review, Aurelia makes the following comments about Odek’s chapter in the book:

“The best chapter by far is by Justice James Otieno Odek of the Court of Appeal in Kenya. [it] is the longest chapter in the book but also the best written. Justice Odek’s language is passionate but not inflamed and accessible without being dull. The chapter has two distinct parts. The first looks in detail at the various standards for IP protection within TRIPS, discussing the deadlines and rules, the special deadlines and rules for developing countries and the extra special deadlines and rules for least developed countries. It also gives a succinct history of IP in Africa—hint: highly influenced by outsiders—and background on how Africa interacts with the world in the global IP debate—hint: highly influenced by outsiders. Justice Odek goes on to show how the requirements in TRIPS are misaligned with the sources of innovation.

The second part of the chapter analyses the growth of creativity and innovation by looking at Kenya’s private and public innovation sectors. This is a well-executed analysis that covers an array of sources for innovation. Justice Odek identifies thirteen innovation actors and gives concrete examples of organizations in these roles. The private sector portion is quite encouraging; the public sector portion rather disappointing, a situation Justice Odek proposes be addressed by increased collaboration between the two.

After his thorough analysis, Justice Odek categorizes strengths, weaknesses and challenges of the current system and provides some recommendations. The list of recommendations for improving innovation capacity found at the end of the chapter could easily be adapted to many other countries. Justice Odek’s chapter is a great culmination of the preceding articles and makes a fitting final chapter to the book. Perhaps this is part of the reason why the following and actual last chapter on public sector data feels so out of place.”

This blogger hopes that Odek’s work inspires further reviews, analyses and publications from Kenyans on this very important topic.

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