back to article United Nations gifts NORTH KOREA with tech worth $50k

The UN’s World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is looking to gift the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (the bad Korea) with a little over $50k worth of hardware and peripherals, plus some training, with the goal of modernising North Korea’s patent and trademark applications. Really? That’s what’s highest on North …

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Prior Art?

I heard that ferrets used to be used to assist in installing aircraft wiring. Well, I'm pretty sure I heard that on QI so it must be true ...

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Big Brother

Think BOFH...

Patent applications are text and line drawings in black and white. An unexpected item in an IT budget is probably going to be used for normal internet purposes. As everyone knows, "The Internet Is For Porn".

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Anonymous Coward

Hmmm...

"...My mind is reeling with images of Larry Ellison meeting with Kim Jong-un. What would that be like? Or, better yet, what if the old man, Kim Jong-il were still around? How would that meeting go?..." If rone-ree...

Ged T

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Coat

Re: Hmmm...

One man runs an evil empire subjecting millions of people to a life of misery. The other is the North Korean leader.

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Go

Treasure trove

<blockquote>those patent applications could be a treasure trove of info on how to build better devices</blockquote>

Of course they are! That's what patents are for, to promote progress. The UK patent legislation isn't, as far as I can see, explicit, but the US Constitution is:

The Congress shall have Power ... To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

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Boffin

Re: Treasure trove

"Of course they are! That's what patents are for, to promote progress."

That's the theory. You know the difference between theory and practice, don't you?

...

In theory they are the same, but in practice they're not.

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FAIL

It is not authors and inventors anymore

The so called patent reform act has changed this to first to file. I believe El Reg has had a few article s on this

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Meh

"While North Korea is currently an Oracle customer"

That explains a lot about Oracle's operations. They obviously pay close attention to their customers' business practices.

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LDS
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WTF?

Wasn't NK in the black list?

IIRC whenever you download something from Oracle you're asked to swear you're not in one of the blacklisted countries... now I read they sold it to them?? Pecunia non olet, but I guess they could have done without such a customer...

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Re: Wasn't NK in the black list?

Spyware.

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WTF?

What the difference between "gift" and "give"?

Really, I would like to know what you think the difference is.

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ACZ

It's just patent offices trying to be more efficient

From an innocent/naive level, this is basically WIPO trying to do its job. So long as North Korea already has internet access, a "treasure trove" of information won't suddenly be made available to North Korea.

However,... if their internet access is limited (it seems to be - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_in_North_Korea) then it might be very useful. A quick search on WIPO's PATENTSCOPE database (http://www.wipo.int/patentscope/search/en/search.jsf) shows that 25 International patent applications have been filed at the North Korean patent office since 1990. I don't know how many local/"national" patent applications there are in North Korea, but I suspect very few. That doesn't exactly require 48TB of storage space, nor does it require a high speed duplex laser printer. And it doesn't exactly require full time use of the new hardware, which raises the question of potential "dual use".

Patent applications get published - tens of millions of them from patent offices all over the world here: http://worldwide.espacenet.com/ (contains all of the publications on the WIPO database and more).

So those publications are already available to anybody and everybody for free - you just need an internet connection.

Any patent application directed to "restricted" subject matter (where national security restrictions etc. apply) will not be published, and so will never make it onto the public database.

I would guess that the storage space on the server means that it either has, or is designed to have, a local copy of WIPO's public PATENTSCOPE database in order to allow staff at the patent office to search it easily, i.e. without needing an internet connection. The only searching they would have to do is presumably to determine patentability of local/national patent applications, not the International ones that WIPO handles.

So I suspect that part of the concern here might be the ease of access to the very large volume of technical data on that database (with 48TB, it might have the plain text/XML plus the TIFF/PDF images, including drawings).

So it's really the "dual use" question of:

1. what they are going to use the hardware for when it's not being used to process patent applications filed at the patent office, and

2. whether they have got a local copy of the PATENTSCOPE database, and if so what use (outside of searching for local/national patent applications) they might put it to,

and whether any of that breaks any UN bans on technology transfer.

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Mushroom

Re: It's just patent offices trying to be more efficient

What about the fact that officially, North Korea and the UN (i.e. including WIPO) are at war?

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"So those publications are already available to anybody and everybody for free - you just need an internet connection."

North Korean's do not have internet access, but rather their own internal internet. As such, they will need a locally cached version of the database.

You cant have them accessing the full internet... they might find out that everything they've been told is all lies!

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Mushroom

Umm...

Aren't the Norks international pariahs? As in, nobody in the Free World is supposed to be dealing with them? They ignore all international standards of behavior, so what on earth makes the WIPO folks think that they will respect others' intellectual property?

//of course, the patents on missiles and spacecraft will probably come in handy

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Umm...

Sorry. Your non-ironic use of the phrase "Free World" to describe the illegal kidnapping, regime toppling, water-boarding, citizen spying, communications intercepting, tweet imprisoning, ID card demanding, 'terrorist' blaming, 'freedom fighter' eulogising, non-national extraditing, gun-running, big business serving regime in charge of your own country, automatically disqualifies you from adult discussion of international affairs.

Please return to the "Whoopin' and Hollerin' Room" where you will be issued with a blindfold, earplugs, "Go USA" T-shirt and Stars'n'Stripes flag, which should keep you occuppied, until the grown ups have finished talking.

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Mushroom

Re: Umm...

Of course not! For crying out loud! The US is just one bloody country, not all of "The Free World"! The UN is the only party with any kind of claim (albeit rather weak) to speaking for the world. When the UN makes a decision, there is at least some kind of connection to the vote I laid in the last election (through the government of my country, their appointment of representatives to the UN, and so on). When the US speaks, they speak only for themselves and their citizens, but I have given them no right whatsoever to speak for me! So shut up about that rubbish of US decisions being decisions for the "Free World", you are only ONE country with 312 million people, the world has 196 countries (or thereabouts) and 6.8 billion people!

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