Welcome to Volume 7 Issue 1 of the Queen Mary Journal of Intellectual Property. Volume 7 is published at a moment in history characterized by turbulence and uncertainty in national identities and political behaviours. From the United Kingdom's vote to exit the European Union, to the re-situation of international politics to the realm of social media, the emphasis on the local and personal in political and legal development is becoming overwhelming and indeed potentially limiting with respect to the interplay of cultures and diversity within the international community.
The interaction between national interests, international relationships, and cultural identities also characterizes the present unsettled climate for intellectual property development and implementation. The authors in this issue examine this relationship between legal developments, national identity and prosperity, and cultural values and diversity through a range of jurisdictions and areas of intellectual property.
Shamnad Basheer considers the relationship between history, national priorities, and the pressures of international industrial interests in the development of India's patent regime in ‘Making patents work: of IP duties and deficient disclosures’. Basheer notes that the regime exploits flexibilities available at the international level in order to respect national and cultural priorities, at the same time attracting criticism of this approach as parochial and obstructive to conventional understandings of incentives and development in global innovation and trade. In this context, Basheer considers in detail the requirements for ‘disclosure’ as an example of innovative developments in the regime that facilitate education and knowledge transfer through patents, providing insight into the wider cultural and social import of the patent regime, creating important duties in respect of intellectual property rights. Concentrating on pharmaceuticals and high technology in particular, Basheer examines the relationship between disclosure, transparency, and innovation.
In ‘Whither China's protection of geographical indications?’, Zhao Xiaoping provides an important and useful insight into the interaction between cultural interests, regional development, and geographical indications, through the case of Qinzhouhuang Millet, the only case to have been considered by the Supreme People's Court (SPC) of China. An especially important aspect of this discussion is the way in which multiple regimes are involved in the legal rendering of geographical indications, leading to a potentially fractured and uncertain impression of the subject matter at stake. As the author explains, it is like the parable of the blind men and an elephant, where each party studies a different part of the elephant and is left with a completely different impression of what they are experiencing, resulting of course in total disagreement. In the case of Qinzhouhuang Millet, the author explains that the curious interaction of regimes results in multiple identities, from geographical indication to trade mark, resulting in uncertainty when it comes to characterization and enforcement in the courts. The author argues for sui generis GI protection in order to clarify more meaningfully this area of intellectual property, so important for regional development, rural life, and cultural identities.
Mohammad Ataul Karim explores geographical indications in the context of indigenous and traditional knowledge in ‘Protection of “handicraft” as geographical indications under municipal law, TRIPs and BTAs vis-à-vis CETA: “Bangladeshi Jamdani” as case study’. Karim notes that the traditional knowledge incorporated in handicrafts may range from local to even national knowledge, and capturing the realities of intellectual input and community identity is crucial to the relevance and efficacy of any protection regime. It is in this context that the author explores the operation of geographical indications at the international level and the uncertainty for realizing protection of community input within international instruments. Considering the case study of Jamdani in particular, the author explores the difficulties for national relationships in relation to disputed intellectual interests, considering recommendations for Bangladeshi policy and the potential role of consumers and product information and branding in the global marketplace.
Tianxiang He considers cultural goods in the context of censorship regimes in ‘Control or promote? China's cultural censorship system and its influence on copyright protection’. Acknowledging China's strict censorship regime in respect of cultural goods, the author notes that the relationship between censorship and political purpose is an important insight into the impact on the cultural sector. Considering publication, broadcasting, and online publishing, the author examines the interaction between legal and regulatory frameworks and wider enforcement campaigns in order to analyse in detail the publicized objective of copyright protection to justify censorship and consequently the wider impact of censorship on cultural diversity and market structure and control.
‘Minutes of Evidence of the Select Committee on the Letters Patent for Invention Act 1835’ sees for the very first time the publication of this evidence, which was never published in the Sessional Papers (an exception to usual practice with regard to the evidence of major Select Committees on public bills). Through meticulous research and transcription of all the evidence heard before the House of Lords Select Committee in its consideration of the Letters Patent for Invention Act 1835, Phillip Johnson corrects this oversight and enables Queen Mary Journal of Intellectual Property to provide valuable primary evidence on patent reform in the 1830s in this important research publication. A follow up, the Parker Report, will be published in Volume 7 Issue 2 of Queen Mary Journal of Intellectual Property. The historic evidence of the Select Committee discusses the extension of patents and amending patents after grant, and its publication provides researchers with a unique insight into the development of patent law in the UK since the well-known 1829 Select Committee, as well as the wider cultural import and relevance of patents in the history of UK intellectual property law.
We hope you enjoy this issue. If there's one thing that is important in intellectual property, and indeed in the international community, it's to agree to disagree. Appreciation and enjoyment of diversity is one of the most important cultural instruments we have at our disposal.