A proposal on the issue of industrial patents to favor the circulation of knowledge
It was in 1999, with the protest marches in Seattle against the World Trade Organization (WTO), that the world’s attention first became focused on the topic of patents and intellectual property rights, putting this issue on the political agenda of the world’s social movements.
In the last decade, the numbers of people who have been actively claiming the right to a globalization that is not oriented exclusively towards generating profits have undergone an exponential increase and the users’ sensitivity and expectations have changed radically as a result. The obsessive protective measures designed to maintain a monopoly over vitally necessary goods, such as medicines, seeds for use in agriculture, and drinking water, are increasingly under accusation, and have prompted major campaigns to increase the public’s awareness of these issues.
This is particularly true in the pharmaceutical sector, where the patent is still the principal means for protecting a business investment in research – to such a degree that the interests of businesses have often taken priority over the more diffuse interests of public health.
Guna SpA is a pharmaceutical industry that operates on the international markets and that is active in scientific research as well as in the industrial production of remedies of natural origin. It is now one of the European leaders in the homeopathic and homotoxicological sector, established nearly 30 years ago by the strongly-motivated married couple Alessandro Pizzoccaro and Adriana Carluccio. Guna believes firmly in basing medicine on the individual, respecting the uniqueness of each patient’s body, mind and spirit, and focusing on the prevention of disease and the promotion of a healthy lifestyle.
One of Guna’s meta-objectives is to help every individual seek their own ideal state of health, a search that involves paying particular attention not only to taking action on the symptom, but also to keeping their body in a state of psychological, physical and emotional balance, the ideal condition in which their own immune defenses can work most effectively.
At Guna we are well aware that the ultimate goal of any company is to do business, and we recognize ourselves in this model without any false pretences, but we are also convinced that profit-seeking cannot and must not be separated from objectives of an ethical and social nature, and that business can have a human face.
As a business, we perceive that we have various kinds of responsibilities: we must invest in scientific research, in occupation, in technological innovation, in the well-being of our employees and of the territory in which we live, in improving the general health of the nations in which we operate, and in furthering a better-educated and more sensitive approach to the concepts of health and disease.
Guna wants to look to the future, committing itself to guaranteeing its contribution to the well-being of the community, without using its resources to “protect the past”.
With this letter, the company consequently wishes to make it known that it has eliminated all the patent protection procedures for the industrial products and processes regarding the whole range of preparations that it manufactures.
Guna has recently invested considerable resources in building and commissioning its new laboratories in via Palmanova, Milan; from the technological standpoint, these are the most advanced industrial production units in the homeopathic sector in the world. The company is also implementing a five-year plan entailing further significant investments in scientific research. Every innovation in its technologies, products and processes resulting from its activities at the new laboratories, and at every other local research unit run by the company in Italy and abroad, will be made available to the market unprotected by any patents, and every new publication, be it scientific or for the general public’s information, that is edited by the company (which includes the results of the clinical studies financed by Guna) will also be “copyleft” (i.e. it can be freely circulated without any need for prior authorization, providing the source is quoted).
We see the use of patents as a heavy burden that interferes with the natural dynamic drive behind the development of new understanding. In this third millennium we are faced with ambitious new challenges that can hopefully be met providing we base our activity on different values – focusing primarily on sharing our know-how at all levels.
In our own small way, we are strongly determined to make a genuine contribution. Guna can hardly hope to have all patents and copyrights abolished or outlawed, but we do have the ambition of making our own, carefully pondered and rational decisions and, with this letter, we invite all those protagonists of the pharmaceutical sector that are striving for quality and efficiency to reflect on the benefits derivable for all concerned – businesses and patients – from focusing our resources and energies on a freely-circulating and shared scientific research instead of on obsessively protecting our own know-how.
In a nutshell, we hope that in future there will be a more “holistic” approach to the management of knowledge, just as homeopathy proposes a holistic approach to the patient’s health.
Guna Spa President
Dr. Alessandro Pizzoccaro
In accordance with its No Patent manifesto, the company has decided to adopt a “copyleft” license for its intellectual property too, i.e. not only the books and scientific papers published by Guna Editore, but also the findings of its clinical research, thereby enabling the free circulation of all the information they contain.
The SIAE (the Italian Society of Authors and Editors) has written to Guna Editore – a Division of Guna SpA – to inform the company about the opportunity to join a class action promoted in the United States against the Google search engine, accused of having facilitated the circulation on the Internet of parts of papers, books and other intellectual works protected by copyright.
Guna SpA has been actively involved in a project in favor of the free circulation of ideas and knowledge, and is against any protectionist schemes in this sector. As a consequence, although it would be entitled to consider damage claims for any of its works that may have been circulated on the Internet in the USA (where the company has its own branch), Guna SpA has chosen not to take up the American authorities’ invitation to do so, notifying them through the SIAE and informing them of the reasons behind this decision.