A Moron In A Hurry

August 9, 2006

Raiding Poor Countries for Trademarks

Filed under: trademark — nick @ 1:56 pm

Though I don’t know much about plants or medicine, there is a great post on BoingBoing about Brazil’s efforts to prevent foreign corporations from grabbing patents and trademarks from naturally occurring third-world fauna.  Brazil has apparently filed a list of more than 5,000 names of plants with the WIPO and the WTO in an attempt to show that these names are already in use and thus can’t be trademarked by foreign corporations.  It’s not all bad news, however, as BoingBoing points out that UC-Berkeley signed an agreement with the Samoan government to share any royalties from an anti-AIDS drug developed from the use of a native Samoan tree.  While it might be troubling that a nation can claim “national sovereignty over the gene sequence” of an indigenous plant, such an agreement is a better solution than having a foreign corporation assert similar rights through IP law.  Afterall, if Alaskan residents get a $1,000 check each year from the state’s oil revenues, why shouldn’t Brazil or Samoa be entitled to reward their citizens similarly for a native plant being a cure for a terrible disease?  Sounds like the beginning of a territorial moral right.

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