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A group of leading scientists and economists is urging the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in Geneva, Switzerland, to promote 'open' models of innovation that do not rely on patents.

In a 7 July letter to WIPO director-general Kamil Idris, 59 individuals call on the organisation to hold a major conference in 2004 to consider the recent "explosion of open and collaborative projects to create public goods", including the Human Genome Project and the open-source software movement.

The group believes that innovation based on freely available knowledge can be effective not just in areas where it has established a foothold – such as genome sequence data – but also in sectors where patent protection is entirely dominant, such as drug development.

Link to Nature news story

Link to letter to Kamil Idris (PDF) 

Reference: Nature 424, 118 (2003)