Transition At IP-Watch: A New Path Forward

Dear Readers,

After 15 years of original, independent, thoughtful, and timely reporting on global policymaking from the inside, Intellectual Property Watch (IP-Watch) is announcing today a pause on reporting services as it embarks on a transition phase to devise new strategies for future work.

Intellectual Property Watch is proud to have provided a public service to the global IP community and beyond. From our unique Geneva-based vantage point, we have published over 7,000 original stories. In line with our core commitment to improving the quality of global policy debates on IP, innovation and creativity for all, we have made thousands of these stories freely available on-line.  We have earned a truly global readership that includes key decision makers and influencers from all regions and key capitals, covering the whole spectrum of stakeholders and viewpoints. We are proud to have earned nearly 29,000 followers on Twitter @ipwatch, and over 11,000 readers receive regular email alerts on our reporting.

Regrettably, however, financial considerations compel us to suspend reporting for a one-year transition phase. Despite considerable efforts, we have not been able to secure sustainable long-term funding for the public service we provide to the international community.  The financial challenges of providing reliable, independent and professional on-line journalism are now common to most modern media endeavours. At IP-Watch, these challenges have been compounded by our steadfast commitment to providing a non-profit public service to the global IP community and to making the majority of our content freely accessible to all.

Nonetheless, we see this turning point as an opportunity. The suspension of reporting for one year will enable a clear transition period, which the IP-Watch Board will use to retool the publication’s strategy for the new digital media age and the shifting tides of global policymaking. The Board is committed to devising a more sustainable organisational, publishing and financial model that can support a new chapter and enable us to continue to serve our readers.

Throughout the transition phase, our entire rich archives will continue to be available on-line as a public resource available to all with the exception of certain subscriber-only stories. Meanwhile, please stay signed-up to IP-Watch so that we can keep you informed of next steps.

The IP-Watch Team and Supporters

As we embark on this transition phase, we would like to take this opportunity to thank our readership, contributors and sources for having shared your ideas over many years and for your engagement, good will and support. We extend particular gratitude to donors that have provided core financial support to IP-Watch over the past 15 years including the MacArthur, Rockefeller, Ford and Perls Foundations, the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property, the Open Society Foundation and the Camino Stiftung. We also thank all who have subscribed and donated to IP-Watch or have advertised on our website.

We are especially grateful to all of the team of staff, consultants and freelance reporters around the world who have made IPW possible and vibrant. William New, IP-Watch’s indomitable Director and Editor-in-Chief, will be leaving his role as of April 2019.  William has been an essential part of IPW’s success. He will continue writing, editing and consulting, and will contribute to IP-Watch’s transition efforts. He will be serving as a Visiting Fellow at the Yale Law School Information Society Project and may be contacted at william.new@gmail.com, on LinkedIn, or on Twitter @wnewip. Catherine Saez, IPW’s Senior Reporter, will also continue as a contributor to our sister publication, Health Policy Watch, on a freelance basis, while pursuing new work as a reporter, writer and policy expert. She can be contacted at catherine@mailfence.com.

Looking Ahead

A Vital Mission with Enduring Relevance

Looking forward, IP-Watch’s Board remains convinced of the need for balanced, independent reporting on cutting-edge global policymaking on the intersecting issues of intellectual property, innovation, science, technology, creativity and sustainable development. The issues that motivated the creation of IP-Watch 15 years ago – transparency; effective participation by developing countries and the range of relevant stakeholders, especially those beyond key decision-making centres; and attention to the public interest – remain as relevant today. Debates around the regulation, ownership and distribution of technology, knowledge, data, ideas, and creativity – and their public purposes – continue to have a critical influence on public policy challenges related to the environment, public health, culture, food security and development.

At the same time, the global policy landscape has evolved considerably over the past decade and a half. Regulators face unprecedented challenges in the context of the Fourth industrial revolution, including the rise of the digital economy; advances in artificial intelligence, gene editing and synthetic biology; debates on the regulation of cyberspace, the internet and social media; as well as the suite of questions related to emerging new technologies and the use of data.

Transition and Transformation

In the coming year, the Board’s focus will be on how best to serve current and new readers in the evolving policy context, while building on IP-Watch’s substantial legacy. A range of different organizational models and options for revenue generation exist; we will explore the diversity of possible reporting products and services and ways of monetizing them, as well as new ways to frame the substance and branding of reporting.

Friends of IP-Watch – What Can You Do?

We are proud that so many of our readers rightly consider themselves to be ‘Friends’ of IP-Watch and we plan to continue serving you in the future. We are keen to harness your suggestions, advice and offers of support. On a practical level, transforming IP-Watch for a next phase will require not only sustainable financing, but also new energy and skills on our Board and in our staff team. You can contact the Board directly at transition@ip-watch.org.


Carolyn Deere Birkbeck                                                                      William New
Founder and Chair,                                                                             Director and Editor-in-Chief
Intellectual Property Watch Board                                                    Intellectual Property Watch

Image Credits: https://www.ip-watch.org/

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