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By Peter Stevenson MEMBERS of Volunteer Doctors Cyprus have treated around 350 people at their free clinic in Nicosia since it opened three months ago, while two more, one in Paphos and one in Polis are due to open today. Limassol also has a free clinic, which was opened only last month, and plans have been drawn ...
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Cyprus Internet Directory [ Innovation goes green with the support of intellectual property ]

Innovation goes green with the support of intellectual property

ON APRIL 26, the World Intellectual Property Organisation and the international community will observe the ninth annual World Intellectual Property Day to raise international awareness about the importance of intellectual property to our wellbeing.

This year’s theme, “Promoting Green Innovation,” emphasises the importance of intellectual property (IP) to advancing the development of green technologies and eco-friendly products that support a healthy environment and promote sustainable agricultural and economic development.

We are in a period of heightened concern about both climate change and global economic crisis. Historically, such challenges have sparked innovation, presenting new opportunities to benefit from intellectual property. By encouraging enforcement of trade rules, including intellectual property protection, we can support innovative industries, create new jobs and solve global challenges.

Creative individuals and industries continue to generate solutions to some of the most difficult problems that face the world today. Intellectual property protections help foster environments in which creativity and innovation can thrive and contribute to economic development and improved quality of life around the world.

Recently, Brazil has undergone a Green Revolution, dramatically increasing agricultural production. Investment in research, technology transfer, and the use of new technologies has been essential to this success. For example, a soybean variety breeding initiative with the United States helped Brazil become a major soybean producer. New technology allowed farmers to minimise the turning of the soil before planting a new crop, decreasing erosion. Crucial to the development of these new technologies is the intellectual property protection provided in both Brazil and the United States.

On a quest to improve the vision of a billion of the world’s poorest people by 2020, Oxford University physics professor Josh Silver invented a pair of eyeglasses that people can adjust on their own. Provided for free, this invention helps the disadvantaged who have only limited access to an optician.

Silver has already delivered some 30,000 pairs to disadvantaged individuals in 15 countries and ultimately hopes to distribute 100 million pairs around the world each year. Efforts are also under way to streamline the design of the eyeglasses and make them more widely available by decreasing their cost of production.

Through the UN Development Programme’s Transformation of Rural Photovoltaic Market Project in Tanzania, local entrepreneurs are helping bring affordable solar energy systems to rural areas. In one example, Zara Solar Ltd. sold 3,600 stand-alone systems, helping supply electricity for lighting, mobile phone charging and electricity to 18,000 people.

Despite the strong benefits that these solar technology systems bring to health centres, schools, businesses and individual households, low quality imitation products sold at small electric shops threaten to hurt their reputation. Zara Solar is working to educate consumers about the importance of purchasing legitimate systems so that the authentic brand name products are not discarded due to false perceptions that they are low quality.

The Alternative Indigenous Development Foundation Inc. (AIDFI), a Philippine non-governmental organisation, took a pump first developed in 1772 and improved it by creating a design that uses locally-available replacement parts. As of May 2007, 98 of the new pumps were installed in 68 communities, providing clean water to villagers living on hillsides, who previously had to climb down steep slopes to collect it from a river or stream. This innovative pump uses the best of the original version, but simplifies its maintenance with easily replaceable parts accessible to technicians in the local villages.

Here in Cyprus, I recently signed an agreement to promote science and technology co-operation between the United States and Cyprus. This agreement makes it easier for our researchers to work together on projects. Under the framework of this agreement, two major US universities are already working with the Cyprus Institute on a project to produce drinking water through the integration of a thermal solar power system in a desalination plant.

Innovation is at the heart of civilisation. The pursuit of new knowledge is at the centre of human spirit and is what led Thomas Edison to invent and develop technologies like the light bulb. The US IP system allowed others to build upon Edison’s work by granting him patent protection that allowed him to reap financial benefit for his significant contribution to society. We must ask ourselves: Who are the Thomas Edisons of today? Where are they? And, how do we ensure that IP protections are in place to encourage their innovative spirit and support the safe and secure distribution of technologies to those who desperately need them?

In his inaugural speech, US President Barack Obama reminded us that “our minds are no less inventive” and “our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year.” As we work to address global challenges such as the current international economic crisis, climate change and clean energy, we must redouble our efforts to encourage and protect intellectual property rights and foster a robust environment for global innovation.

n Frank C. Urbancic Jr is the US Ambassador to Cyprus

(Source: Cyprus Mail)
Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008 Please contact Cyprus Mail for the copyright terms of this article.

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