US, Brazil Duel On WIPO Development Agenda 21/07/2005 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)At the start of day two of a meeting on reform of the UN World Intellectual Property Organization toward developing country concerns, the United States put a political stake in the ground, calling for the meeting to recommend moving development issues to an existing technical committee. The US proposal is in marked contrast to a proposal put forward on day one by Brazil on behalf of 14 countries referred to as the Friends of Development, which called for more meetings at the same high level, with their sweeping reform proposal as the central focus. The two governments went head-to-head repeatedly during the second morning, getting to the heart of their differences over how to ensure development concerns are fully addressed at WIPO. They also sparred on whether WIPO should negotiate a treaty ensuring public access to knowledge. Meanwhile, sponsors of various proposals under discussion at this week’s meeting are busy behind the scenes working to bring their proposals closer together. The African Group announced in the morning that it would have a number of new proposals later in the day. Participants said the European Union is working to prepare a set of proposals drawn from all of the others listed by the meeting chair that could be discussed in a continuation of the current meeting next year. The EU proposal would have the effect of dividing the Group B of industrialised countries, as the United States and Japan would be isolated in their continued insistence on moving development issues into a specific technical committee, sources said. Last fall, the Friends of Development group co-sponsored a proposal for fundamental reform of WIPO to infuse a development dimension throughout its activities, something they argue has been missing from the body long associated with the protection of intellectual property rights worldwide. The Friends of Development proposal was introduced at the 2004 WIPO General Assembly, which mandated that an Intersessional Intergovernmental Meeting (IIM) discuss the proposal and make a recommendation by the end of July for the 2005 General Assembly. The current 20-22 July IIM is the third and final three-day meeting since April. The US suggestion to move development issues to the Permanent Committee on Cooperation for Development Related to Intellectual Property (PCIPD) reflects a proposal put forward at the April IIM by the United Kingdom. Canada proposed at the last meeting of the PCIPD — which followed immediately after the April IIM — that the body be reorganised to address broader concepts. The United Kingdom took over the presidency of the European Union on 1 July, and now speaks for the EU in the meeting. Brazil, India and others have argued repeatedly that the fundamental changes they are calling for must reach beyond the PCIPD into a range of committees and procedures at WIPO. The US draft IIM recommendation states in its entirety: “If any decision of the IIM to the WIPO General Assembly is to be included in the Report of the IIM to the WIPO General Assembly, the decision of the IIM should read as follows: ‘The IIM recommends that the following decision be adopted by the General Assembly: 1. The General Assembly notes the examination of proposals contained in documents IIM/1/…, IIM/2/… and IIM/3/…, and the divergent views expressed thereon during the IIM session of April, June and July 2005; 2. The General Assembly decides to refer all of the above proposals, as well as any other proposals received from Member States, to the PCIPD; 3. The General Assembly reaffirms that the mandate of the PCIPD is sufficiently broad to consider fully the proposals made. Moreover, the PCIPD should be reinvigorated so that, in line with the frequency of meetings of most of other WIPO bodies, the PCIPD should meet up to two times each year to discuss issues relating to intellectual property and development.’” The dispute between the United States and Brazil shows the underlying disagreement in philosophies regarding the usefulness of intellectual property rights in promoting innovation and development. A Brazilian delegate said that higher standards of intellectual property protection have not delivered benefits to developing countries, and that there has been widespread concern that new norms of protection may actually be inhibiting rather than facilitating transfer of technology. Companies may use their government-granted monopoly rights to block countries from adapting these technologies to their own needs or to prevent competition, he added. These problems are exacerbated in environments where rules go beyond those agreed to in the 1994 World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). “The intellectual property system should be made to deliver on those objectives” to promote development, he said. “I think the US totally rejects anything that changes this organization’s modus operandi that helps developing countries,” a Brazilian delegate charged. “I hope I am not correct.” The US delegate assured Brazil that his government has expressed a “willingness to discuss” development issues and fully supports UN efforts. But he said the United States disagrees with the premises upon which Friends of Development proposal is based – that WIPO has not dealt with development issues, and that intellectual property rights have not been positive for innovation. US Rejects Access To Knowledge Treaty Proposal Another area of contention between the United States and Brazil was a proposal put forward by Brazil for WIPO to negotiate an “access to knowledge” treaty. Brazil said there is a problem of the appropriation of publicly funded “basic science” and research by private companies which has the effect of removing the knowledge from the public domain. Brazil’s delegate cited “worrisome” legislation in the United States that encourages the transfer of more research from universities to private sector, which he said would lead to more monopolies and less innovation. The access to knowledge treaty, sometimes referred to as the A2K treaty, would ensure this information remains public, feeding science and research, Brazil said. WIPO must address this problem, he said, adding, “We believe an access to knowledge treaty is the real power tool that WIPO should pursue.” The United States said it cannot support the proposal, and that it “strongly disagrees” with the principles underlying it and views it as “unnecessary.” Intellectual property has been a strong driver of innovation rather than an impediment, the US said. The European Union could be the wild-card in the debate, as the United Kingdom’s statement did not reject the access to knowledge treaty proposal, and said WIPO has a role in the debate. Also Thursday, the United States and a number of other governments disagreed with a Friends of Development proposal to add a new WIPO standing committee on technology transfer, citing long-standing work in this area and WIPO’s limited resources. Brazil countered that it is “completely inappropriate” to move technology transfer and other development issues to the PCIPD. The Brazilian delegate said the PCIPD could be reworked, but that it “does not even do what it’s supposed to do,” which is technical assistance. Finally, on Thursday the WIPO secretariat circulated a 300-page document of information on the organisation’s development cooperation activities from January 2000 to June 2005. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related "US, Brazil Duel On WIPO Development Agenda" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.