KEI's opening statement at WIPO's 2017 General Assembly focuses on role of Chief Economist

This was delivered the afternoon on October 3, 2017.

Opening statement of Knowledge Ecology International - WIPO General Assembly 2017

Thank you, Mr. Vice President.

KEI notes the controversies around the world regarding the costs and benefits of intellectual property policies, including in particular extended terms of copyright protection in some countries, access to copyrighted works out of commerce and in teaching and research, and the role of patents in both promoting and discouraging innovation, and creating barriers to access medicine.

It is important that delegates at WIPO and the public have access to economic analysis of the intellectual property system, not just on issues of interest to academic researchers, but on the topics the negotiators have to resolve at WIPO, in the relevant subject matter committees.

WIPO member states should consider inviting the Chief Economist to discuss the program of economic analysis to ensure or encourage a research program that is relevant and useful as regards policy making.

Also, WIPO should discuss creating a framework to do impact assessments of proposed norm setting, something that many legislative bodies have implemented at the national level, and which is currently lacking at WIPO.

For example, WIPO should have an impact assessment of the proposed WIPO treaty for broadcasting organizations, particularly as it relates to expanded rights for foreign owned organizations that own “channels” that distribute content over cable and satellite systems, or the proposals to expand the treaty to create a new layer of intellectual property rights in information transmitted over the Internet.

To begin, the Office of the Chief Economist could make recommendations as to possible terms of reference for such impact studies.


Previous mentions of the WIPO Office of the Chief Economist.

This was not the first time KEI has asked WIPO to provide a larger role of the Office of the Chief Economist.

In September 2009, KEI commented on the appointment of Carsten Fink as Chief Economist of WIPO.

This morning I had a chance to talk with Carsten Fink, the new Chief Economist at WIPO. Carsten was widely considered to be a good choice for WIPO. His job will be to develop from scratch an economics research capacity at WIPO on topics involving intellectual property, public policy, and development. Right now he is the only economist on board. Carsten will be reporting to Dr. Johannes Christian Wichard, the new Deputy DG for Global Issues, and working with a number of other WIPO offices. (Source: WIPO GA, September 25, 2009, https://www.keionline.org/node/602)

In February 2012, KEI provided written comments on WIPO’s implementation of Recommendation 36 of the WIPO Development Agenda (CDIP/8/INF/7):

We encourage the International Bureau to use the good offices of its Chief Economist to conduct economic analysis of innovation inducement prizes[6] as a potential incentive mechanism to de-link the costs of R&D from the price of health technologies, and to stimulate sharing and access to knowledge. This will undergird an honest implementation of the original spirit that engendered Recommendation 36, in advance of WIPO's convening of an open-ended meeting with member states and the organization of an Experts Meeting on open collaborative projects.
(Source: Source: KEI's comments on WIPO's Development Agenda Project on Open Collaborative Development Models https://www.keionline.org/node/1371)

At WIPO’s General Assembly in 2014, KEI urged the Chief Economist to “provide basic economic analysis of the patent and copyright systems in developing countries”.

The work of the WIPO Chief Economist could be used to provide basic economic analysis of the patent and copyright systems in developing countries, including, for example, by evaluating the impact of restrictive and permissive patent grants on access to medicine, and on development of domestic pharmaceutical industries, with some numbers that make the debate on these issues more grounded in evidence.
The WIPO Chief Economist could also provide some insight into the economies of scale necessary to manufacture low cost biologic drugs, and the policy options for reducing entry barriers for biosimilar suppliers for biologic drugs and vaccines.

(Source: WIPO General Assembly 2014: KEI statement on the Report of the Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP), https://www.keionline.org/node/2093)

In addition, KEI urged WIPO member states to expand their oversight of WIPO’s office of the Chief Economist.

Finally, we urge member states to take a larger role in the management of the WIPO office of the chief economist, and the WIPO work on Global Challenges.

It is not obvious to KEI that those offices are providing support that will address the pressing needs to overcome access barriers to new drugs for cancer, and to identify areas where the existing systems of exclusive rights impose unacceptable costs on society, and fail to stimulate innovation to meet important needs.

In this regard, member states may want to reflect on the type of economic analysis that would help member states understand the costs and benefits of extended terms for patents and copyrights, to evaluate the merits of alternatives to exclusive rights, including those implemented within the existing WTO TRIPS framework, as well as scenarios that would require changes in that framework.

Any system for inducing investments in R&D for cancer drugs that excludes access by 80 percent of the global population is morally repugnant, and WIPO should be among those engaged in fixing and reforming this. (WIPO General Assembly 2014: Opening Statement of Knowledge Ecology International, https://www.keionline.org/node/2090)

In relation to copyright, KEI requested the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) to “pose research questions for the Office of the Chief Economist, on the question of the impact of long copyright terms on performers, book publishers and consumers.” (Source: WIPO General Assembly 2014: KEI statement on Matters Relating to the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), https://www.keionline.org/node/2094)

At the 34th session of the SCCR held in May 2017, KEI called upon WIPO’s Chief Economist to undertake a study on the economics of the library industry.

One thing I just wanted to mention as related to libraries is in addition to the excellent studies that have been done by Kenneth Crews and other people that have looked at library exceptions, I thought it might be interesting to have the chief economist or other people involved, but certainly the chief economist to look at the economics of the library industry.

I think that we look at libraries as part of the research and development infrastructure for a country, not only as places people go to read novels, but an essential part of the competitiveness and ability for a country to have a strong high tech sector but also play an important role in the development. And it would be interesting to know what the assessment is because we hear it from other industries all of the time. They talk about the number of jobs in the film industry or the number of jobs. It would be interesting to know how many people are employed in different countries in the library sector, but also what contributions the library sector makes to the economic development of the countr., and what challenges they face on pricing.

(Source: SCCR 34 NGOs on Limitations and Exceptions for libraries and archives, https://www.keionline.org/node/2771)


Economics Working Papers published by the Office of the Chief Economist.

What does the Chief Economist do? These are three dozen economics working papers that the Chief Economist has published:

http://www.wipo.int/publications/en/series/index.jsp?id=138

  • Ideas production and international knowledge spillovers: digging deeper into emerging countries, Economic Research Working Paper No. 35
  • Identifying and ranking the world's largest clusters of inventive activity, Economic Research Working Paper No. 34
  • Identifying the gender of PCT inventors, Economic Research Working Paper No. 33
  • R&D, Scale Effects and Spillovers: New Insights from Emerging Countries, Economic Research Working Paper No. 32
  • Measuring Creativity: Learning from Innovation Measurement, Economic Research Working Paper No. 31
  • Breakthrough technologies – Robotics, innovation and intellectual property, Economic Research Working Paper No. 30
  • Economic growth and breakthrough innovations: A case study of nanotechnology, Economic Research Working Paper No. 29
  • 3D printing and the intellectual property system, Economic Research Working Paper No. 28
  • Breakthrough technologies – Semiconductor, innovation and intellectual property, Economic Research Working Paper No. 27
  • Intellectual property rights and pharmaceuticals: The case of antibiotics, Economic Research Working Paper No. 26
  • Breakthrough innovations in aircraft and the intellectual property system, 1900-1975, Economic Research Working Paper No. 25
  • Sources of Biopharmaceutical Innovation: An Assessment of Intellectual Property, Economic Research Working Paper No. 24
  • The Use of Intellectual Property in Brazil, Economic Research Working Paper No. 23
  • Trademarks Squatters: Evidence from Chile, Economic Research Working Paper No. 22
  • Defining and Measuring the “Market for Brands”: Are Emerging Economies Catching Up?, Economic Research Working Paper No. 21
  • International Patenting Strategies of Chinese Residents: An Analysis of Foreign-Oriented Patent Families, Economic Research Working Paper No. 20
  • The Emergence of An Educational Tool Industry: Opportunities and Challenges for Innovation in Education, Economic Research Working Paper No. 19
  • The Egyptian Information Technology Sector and the Role of Intellectual Property: Economic Assessment and Recommendations, Economic Research Working Paper No. 18
  • Inventor Data for Research on Migration and Innovation: A Survey and a Pilot, Economic Research Working Paper No. 17
  • U.S. High-Skilled Immigration, Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Empirical Approaches and Evidence, Economic Research Working Paper No. 16
  • Diaspora Networks, Knowledge Flows and Brain Drain, Economic Research Working Paper No. 15
  • An "Algorithmic Links with Probabilities" Concordance for Trademarks For Disaggregated Analysis of Trademark and Economic Data, Economic Research Working Paper No. 14
  • Brands as Productive Assets: Concepts, Measurement, and Global Trends, Economic Research Working Paper No. 13
  • Exploring the Worldwide Patent Surge, Economic Research Working Paper No. 12
  • The Use of Intellectual Property in Chile, Economic Research Working paper 11
  • The Informal Economy, Innovation and Intellectual Property: Concepts, Metrics and Policy Considerations, Economic Research Working Paper No. 10
  • The Economics of Copyright and the Internet: Moving to an Empirical Assessment Relevant in the Digital Era, Economic Research Working Paper No. 9
  • Measuring the International Mobility of Inventors: A New Database, Economic Research Working Paper No.8
  • How Does Geographical Mobility of Inventors Influence Network Formation?, Economic Research Working Paper No. 7
  • What Makes Companies Pursue an Open Science Strategy?, Economic Research Working Paper No. 6
  • Getting Patents and Economic Data to Speak to Each Other: An “Algorithmic Links with Probabilities” Approach for Joint Analyses of Patenting and Economic Activity, Economic Research Working Paper No. 5
  • The State of Patenting at Research Institutions in Developing Countries: Policy Approaches and Practices, Economic Research Working Paper No. 4
  • Disembodied Knowledge Flows in the World Economy, Economic Research Working Paper No. 3
  • Basic, Applied and Experimental Knowledge and Productivity: Further Evidence, Economic Research Working Paper No. 2
  • How Robust is the R&D - Productivity Relationship? Evidence from OECD Countries, Economic Research Working Paper No. 1
  • WIPO Survey on Patenting Strategies in 2009 and 2010 - Final report
  • The Economics of Intellectual Property. Suggestions for Further Research in Developing Countries and Countries with Economies in Transition