Monday, April 26, 2010
April 26, 2010 represents the 10th Anniversary of World Intellectual Property Day. The membership growth in international treaties protecting intellectual property (IP) and harmonizing IP laws has grown significantly since the creation of the TRIPS Agreement (Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property) became part of the multilateral World Trade Organization (WTO) family of agreements. However, protection of intellectual property continues to be a delicate balancing act. On the one hand, IP protection provides incentives to creative persons who know they will reap the financial rewards of their hard work and will be able to control what happens with their creations, at least for a number of years. We need to encourage continued innovation to find solutions to disease, hunger and climate change. On the other hand, too great protections for IP can limit access to needed medicines and jeopardize farmers' ability to re-use seed to start next year's crops. Thus, the world community might consider using this anniversary to examine whether a proper balance is being struck between these competing interests.