Answering the Call: Public Interest Intellectual Property Advisors


Most developing countries do not have access to qualified intellectual property professionals who are willing and able to help them address the myriad issues they now face. Rather, most of the participants on the global and national stage have been economists, academics, anthropologists, scientists, and policy specialists, but not intellectual property professionals. In response to this need, in 2002, an international association of concerned individuals, including the author of this Essay, decided to establish a new public interest organization. The new organization was named Public Interest Intellectual Property Advisors (PIIPA), and was incorporated as a non-profit, tax-exempt global pro bono initiative to provide intellectual-property-related services for governments, agencies and research institutions in developing countries and other public interest organizations. This Essay describes the genesis and development of PIIPA, focusing on the need for services of the type PIIPA offers and plans to offer as well as the logistical, legal, ethical and political hurdles that public interest organizations working in the area of intellectual property must overcome. Part I describes the growing need for intellectual-property-related legal and professional assistance for developing countries, and in the public interest. Part II discusses how PIIPA was founded and organized to address these needs. Part III addresses the on-going development of PIIPA, including illustrative cases, planned growth, and future directions.


Developing countries, Access to justice, Intellectual property



Michael A. Gollin (Venable LLP)



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