Development Groups Gather Support For WIPO Reform Agenda 18/07/2005 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment IP-Watch is a non-profit independent news service, and subscribing to our service helps support our goals of bringing more transparency to global IP and innovation policies. To access all of our content, please subscribe now. You also have the opportunity to offer additional support to your subscription, or to donate. Just days before the final round of a debate over a proposed development agenda for the World Intellectual Property Organisation, non-profit groups from all corners of the world are signing on to a call for support of WIPO reform. The groups are signing on to a statement posted on the website of the US-based IP Justice that calls for WIPO reform, specifically for support of the so-called Friends of Development proposal being discussed by the U.N. body. The Friends of Development proposal was initiated by Brazil and Argentina at last fall’s WIPO General Assembly. Twelve other members co-sponsored the proposal. At the General Assembly it was agreed that WIPO members should further discuss the proposal this spring in an Inter-sessional Intergovernmental Meeting (IIM). The first IIM was held in April, at which time it was decided to hold two more, one in June and one in July, which will be held on 20 to 22 July. A final IIM report is due by the end of July. The Friends of Development proposal was elaborated and competing proposals have been introduced by other members during the IIM. The non-governmental groups’ statement calls for an amendment of the original 1967 WIPO convention to “expressly incorporate a development dimension, consistent with WIPO obligations as a UN agency.” It also urges consideration of a treaty on access to knowledge and technology setting out user freedoms and rights to access. In addition, it calls for the establishment of an independent evaluation and research office at WIPO, and the adoption of principles and guidelines for WIPO’s technical assistance program aimed at improving implementation, information-sharing and evaluation. The statement envisions consultations with all types of stakeholders. Another key proposal is to reform WIPO’s norms and practices, for instance by weighing the costs and benefits of copyright, patent and trademark rights. This would include reconsideration of these rights not as ends but as ways to foster public goals. Finally, it states that the current “one-size-fits-all” approach to rights would be reworked to allow flexibilities for differences in developing countries, and policies would be engendered with greater openness and developing country participation. “WIPO needs to reform its one-size-fits-all (XL) approach to intellectual property rights that overwhelmingly promotes the interest of industrialized rent-seeking rightsholders at the expense of the general public – particularly in developing countries,” Robin Gross, executive director of IP Justice, an international civil liberties organization, said in a previous statement to the IIM. “Developed countries such as the US have a long history of refusing to respect foreign intellectual property rights in order to promote their own national interest. But now these countries want to impose strict IP rules on poor nations and deny them a similar path of development.” Nearly 30 groups from all parts of the world had signed on by early Monday, ranging from the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, Electronic Information for Libraries, Free Software Foundation Europe, Public Knowledge, and Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, to the Foundation for Media Alternatives in the Philippines, Professional Leaders Forum (Nigeria), Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, Institute for Sustainable Development and Research (India), and the Committee for the Promotion of Public Awareness and Development Studies (Nepal). "Development Groups Gather Support For WIPO Reform Agenda" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.