US, Colombia Offer Minimal Reforms At WIPO Development Agenda Meeting16/02/2006 by Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a CommentShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (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)Much of our best content is available only to IP Watch subscribers. We are 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.By Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen and William NewOn the eve of a meeting on a development agenda at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the United States and Colombia have added proposals for improving technical assistance for developing countries to better participate in the global intellectual property rights system.But the proposals are likely to face doubts from the 14 nations seeking more profound reform of WIPO’s mandate to better address a range of concerns by developing countries. The issue will be discussed in the new Provisional Committee on Proposals Related to a WIPO Development Agenda, which will meet from 20 to 24 February.Colombia’s proposal is to help developing countries gain access to certain patent databases to facilitate the patent research, examination and issuing process. The US proposal, available here, is considered an elaboration of a proposal it put forward last year to create a partnership database to improve technical assistance partnerships between developed and developing countries. That proposal was not well-received by many developing countries.Chile also submitted a new proposal for the meeting. The Chilean proposal calls for better protection of information in the public domain, which is of “crucial importance” to researchers, academics, educators, artists, authors and enterprises, as well as all varieties of institutions, Chile said (IPW, WIPO, 12 January 2006).The Friends of Development group is finalising a document today which will be submitted to WIPO in addition to its previous proposal. The document summarises what has happened so far with the development agenda and elaborates on “how to move the process forward,” an Argentinian official said.The document will suggest a work programme to be recommended to the WIPO General Assembly with “immediate action” as well as medium and long-term goals beyond the work of the provisional committee, the official said. The committee is mandated to make a recommendation to the general assembly, the official noted.The document will reflect the discussions in last year’s intersessional, intergovernmental meeting on the development agenda, and emphasises that the large number of proposals does not necessarily mean that parties disagree on all points. But now the points which need further discussion have to be identified, the official said.Next week’s meeting is expected to focus on the new proposals, as well as previous ones. An African Group proposal submitted last year is “very complementary” to the Friends of Development proposal, the official said, while the US proposal is “very restricted” as it mainly focuses on technical assistance and privatisation of technical co-operation, the official said, adding that the Chilean proposal was also “based on the spirit of the Friends of Development.”US Proposal Seeks Strengthening of IP SystemAccording to an official at the US Patent and Trademark Office, the new version of the US proposal (expected to be available this week) provides more detail and contains six elements. It would call for improvements in WIPO’s existing work in development, match partners; continue a “stock-taking” of development activities at WIPO; expand copyright industry activities to patent-based industries; promote the use of information technologies; and bolster efforts against counterfeiting and piracy of intellectual property, which is under the WIPO advisory committee on enforcement.The stock-taking, first proposed by the Group B industrialised countries last year, would include conducting baseline economic surveys to look at economic activity in certain countries. WIPO does this now by meeting with officials and experts in the countries, and so far is seeing a positive impact from the intellectual property system, the US official said. Such surveys would be expanded to patent-based industries, he said.On technology, the official said the WIPO standing committee on information technologies has a discussion on information and communications technologies and economic development. This includes the use of patent information via the WIPO Net project, of which many countries are not taking advantage. How countries could better access available databases also is discussed. This resembles the Colombian proposal.Colombian Proposal Distinct from USThe Colombian proposal encourages WIPO to explore the possibility of developing agreements for access to large patent databases belonging to companies whose information could be important and useful for patent offices in developing countries, a Colombian official said.The national patent offices in developing countries would gain limited, free access to the patents’ prior art databases, which would facilitate their research for patent applications, according to the Spanish language version of the proposal. For example, before granting a patent on a claimed new invention, the patent offices have to do research into prior art, and in doing so there is a need to have more resources available, the official said.Examples of companies holding such patent databases are STN International, Questel-Orbit and Thomson-Delphion, the official said.The proposal emerged from the Colombian government, without influence from other governments, industry or non-governmental organisations, the official said. It is not intended to reflect the US proposal and is not considered technical assistance from the private sector. But it also is consistent with Colombia’s position that neither major reform nor new committees are necessary at WIPO to address development.Today it is often difficult for patent offices in developing countries, with limited resources, to obtain information and access to important sources of knowledge contained in existing patents, the official said. He said that Colombia wanted to “focus on something precise,” which was patenting, to raise awareness about patent offices in developing countries, the patent resources and the sector in general.The proposal was also an attempt to “contribute to a very important and constructive discussion at WIPO now,” and to complement other proposals that are part of the development agenda. “This is a proposal in the framework of that,” he said, adding that Colombia wanted to contribute to and move forward that process.The official said it was a “basic proposal” and hoped it would get the support and initial reaction from a number of countries at the meeting.Colombia submitted the proposal to WIPO some two weeks ago, and WIPO has replied that it would be posted with translations by 16 February. Colombia also plans to meet today with a group of representatives from the Spanish-speaking countries to discuss the proposal.African Group Strategy MeetingThe African Group will meet this afternoon to discuss their position and strategy for the meeting, according to a Kenyan official. This will be the first meeting under the new coordinator for the African Group, Nigeria, which succeeded Morocco. The official said it was expected that the group’s proposal from last year would be put on the agenda again next week.The African proposal offered support for the Friends of Development proposal but also noted the other proposals that emerged during the meetings last year. It also highlighted the importance of technical assistance.Debate on Substance or Procedure?The US official said the US maintains the view that intellectual property helps and does not hinder development. He said WIPO has a role to play, but that other factors like the rule of law at the national level also are important.Last year’s meetings on the proposed development agenda were marked by dragged-out debates over procedure. Some developed countries wanted to place the discussion in an existing committee on technical cooperation, but developing countries feared that would sideline their effort for substantive reform across WIPO activities.The WIPO General Assembly, the annual gathering of all member governments, in October created a provisional committee to continue the work on the development agenda proposal.The US official said he was “hopeful we won’t have the big fights over procedures” this year, as the two one-week meetings should provide sufficient time to discuss all proposals.Share this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (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, Colombia Offer Minimal Reforms At WIPO Development Agenda Meeting" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.