Questions Raised Over Proposed WIPO Secretariat Deals With FAO, IDB 01/10/2006 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. By William New The World Intellectual Property Organization has negotiated cooperation agreements with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and is seeking approval of its member countries at this week’s annual General Assembly. But at least one country, Brazil, has questioned on whose authority WIPO negotiated the arrangements, and how they would fit with the mandates of those organisations. “We don’t want the [IDB and FAO] to be contaminated with the non-development friendly approach of WIPO,” a senior Brazilian diplomat told Intellectual Property Watch. WIPO agreements should be negotiated under the direction of its member states, the official added. The assembly ends on 3 October. WIPO was not reached for comment for this story. The agreements, listed under WIPO document WO/CC/55/2, would put WIPO into a key role on matters related to intellectual property at the organisations. “WIPO becomes the only central entity for expressing expertise on intellectual property in those bodies,” the official said, adding that it might be lucrative for WIPO. But WIPO’s mandate, to protect and advance intellectual property rights, might be at odds with the organisations’ missions, which generally aim to promote access, the “common welfare,” and development. For instance, the FAO aims first to promote access to food and raising nutrition levels, rather than the protection of seeds, which might be the perspective of one promoting protection of intellectual property rights first. A current debate is the rise in industry efforts to file patents over seeds, some of which may be seen as traditionally used by developing country cultures. Such issues also are addressed by the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), which is housed at WIPO. Under the proposed agreement, which was already approved by FAO, WIPO could cooperate on a range of hot-button intellectual property issues, such as: farmers’ rights and traditional knowledge; agricultural biotechnology; genetic resources for food and agriculture; promotion of innovation and the effective capture of benefits from public investment in research; access to, and transfer of, technology in the food and agriculture sector; plant protection and production; use of distinctive signs in the food and agriculture sector; ethical issues in food and agriculture; and information and analysis on patterns and trends of intellectual property use in the food and agriculture sector. WIPO also would counsel the FAO on major agriculture agreements and codes that contain IP elements. The agreement states that the bodies can propose “programmes of work,” something the WIPO member states typically would establish, the Brazilian said. There does not appear to be any mention of WIPO member state involvement in the agreement. The IDB agreement states that any activity is subject to the approval of appropriate authorities of that organisation, but there does not seem to be parallel language for WIPO. The IDB agreement sets a path for joint workshops and training sessions in Latin America and the Caribbean promoting intellectual property, and allows either side to invite the other to participate in its meetings. Apparently the only country currently questioning the agreements, Brazil appears to be under pressure to drop its opposition. A developed country official volunteered that Brazil looks bad for opposing an arrangement with a development bank. Brazil is one of the countries leading the call for a review of WIPO’s activities to ensure they are sufficiently favourable to developing country needs. A preliminary agreement to continue discussing proposals for a WIPO development agenda was reached on 30 September and will come before the plenary on 2 or 3 October. William New may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. "Questions Raised Over Proposed WIPO Secretariat Deals With FAO, IDB" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.