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4th Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest

The Centre for Internet and Society in association with National Law University, Delhi is going to organize the fourth Global Congress on Intellectual Property and Public Interest.

Dates: 15th - 17th December, 2015
Venue: National Law University, Delhi

The Congress, at its inception, was influenced by a series of events, often intersecting and overlapping with each other, including first, by the success of earlier initiatives that articulated reform and amendments to Intellectual Property Law and Policy - both, industry led and driven, and well as those led by scholars, academics and public interest advocates and groups; second, by the initiatives of intellectual Property intensive industries towards widening the scope, reach and impact of Intellectual Property Rights; and third, by the closing of public interest Intellectual Property portfolios of large funding organizations including Rockefeller, MacArthur and Ford.

One of the earliest meetings of its kind, and also one that influenced the Congress, was one on Cultural Agency / Cultural Authority: Politics and Poetics of Intellectual Property in the Post-Colonial Era, sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation, in 1993, which produced the Bellagio Declaration that sought to better recognize the public interest in access to information. Subsequent meetings that also influenced the Congress included the Bellagio Dialogues from 2002 to 2006, also sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation, where one of the 'series' resulted in the incubation of a policy agenda that was subsequently adopted by the World Intellectual Property Organization; a June-2010 on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) conducted at American University; and the industry led - Global Congress Combating Counterfeiting and Piracy (GCCCP) - also (in part) the inspiration behind the Congress' name - one of the objectives of which was the promotion of national, regional and global legislation, The Congress was thus conceived as an interdisciplinary collective, to formulate an agenda for intellectual property and public interest concerns therein.

Since its first edition in 2011 in Washington D.C., and thereafter in subsequent editions in 2012 in Rio de Janeiro and in 2013 in Cape Town, the Congress has been a concerted exercise to re-articulate the public interest dimension in Intellectual Property Law and Policy. The First Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest was convened in August 2011 in Washington DC to define a positive agenda for policy reform, build a global network of scholars and advocates to promote the agenda and provide opportunities for the sharing of research and strategies. The nearly 200 inaugural participants from over 30 countries and 6 continents deliberated over three days through in-person meetings and web-based collaboration to produce the Washington Declaration on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest - an action agenda for promoting the public interest in Intellectual Property and Information Law reform around the world.

Sixteen months later in December 2012, the second Congress held in Rio de Janeiro measured our progress and expanded the positive agenda. To this end, 250 participants from 40 countries came together to identify forums where policy is being developed, propose policies or actions that promote public interest goals and principles, and reflect on how to adequately respond to research and analysis needs. The theme for the second Congress was "Setting the positive agenda in motion," and had a special focus on developments and opportunities in the so-called "BRICS" group of emerging economies. A key output for the second Congress was a public Research and Action Agenda, recording research and analysis needs for promoting a positive agenda in Intellectual Property Policy, and identifying commitments to work toward filling the gaps.

The following year in December 2013, the third Congress was hosted by the University of Cape Town (UCT) in conjunction with the Interest and Open A.I.R. Conference on Innovation and IP in Africa. The five days of Congress & Conference events featured a mix of keynote speeches to plenary sessions and specialised presentations to smaller breakaway groups and workshops, presenting diverse perspectives and future scenarios for Intellectual Property (IP), innovation and development. 264 participants broke into thematic tracks in order to receive targeted presentations and to conduct in-depth scrutiny of the present status of key current strands of public interest engagement with Global and National IP regimes. The five thematic tracks were: (1) user rights; (2) access to medicines; (3) enforcement; (4) openness; and (5) traditional knowledge. Participants also attended workshops proposed and convened by their fellow participants.

Having covered North and Latin America and Africa, the next stop will be Asia, at the fourth Global Congress that we plan for 15th - 17th December, 2015 in New Delhi, India. The event will be convened by the Centre for Internet and Society, Bangalore, and hosted by the National Law University, Delhi.

The 2015 edition of the Congress proposes to mark two significant milestones that have significantly altered the landscape of Intellectual Property, and consequently greatly influenced its public interest articulation. This decade is the third since the beginning of the free and open source movement, launched in the early 1980s by Richard Stallman. The year 2015 will also mark two decades since the signing of the Agreement on the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement).

The proposed theme for the 2015 Congress is Three Decades of Openness; Two Decades of TRIPS; juxtaposing the beginnings of one aspect of a culture of Openness with both - the beginnings of the establishment of minimum standards of Intellectual Property protection and the carving of limitations and exceptions using 'flexibilities' to a standard requiring minimum levels of protection and compliance.

Registration Form:


Priority Deadline for Applications

Applicants will be considered on a rolling basis, with applications made by 1st August, 2015 being given first consideration. Applications after 1st August to receive travel assistance will be considered only under exceptional circumstances (these details will be collected in a subsequent form).

1st August, 2015

All applications for session participation and paper submissions will close on 1st November, 2015.

1st November, 2015


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