Members Debate As WIPO Sees Budget Surpluses, Busy Programme For 200813/12/2006 by William New, 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)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 member governments of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) this week furthered their involvement in WIPO’s programme and budget decisions and clarified their understanding of key efforts underway on personnel and new-building construction. But as WIPO declared it would have a budget surplus, members differed on how to spend it and some raised concerns that WIPO’s stated priority of development in 2008-2009 does not sufficiently reflect calls for a stronger development agenda at the UN body.An informal meeting of the WIPO Program and Budget Committee, scheduled for 11-13 December, ended early with members finishing work at midday on 12 December.A one-day meeting of the WIPO Program and Budget Committee Working Group will be held on 14 December, which will address the terms of reference for the Audit Committee and the WIPO Internal Audit Charter. The Audit Committee is in the second year of a two-year mandate, scheduled to end at the September 2007 General Assembly.WIPO is currently preparing its proposed 2008-2009 budget and programme of work, and under new rules, member states have an increased role. In its report to the Programme and Budget Committee this week, the WIPO secretariat said it now expects to have a budget surplus from 2006-2007 due to stringent spending controls and strong demand for its services such as patent processing. Fees from patent applications provide a significant portion of WIPO’s budget.WIPO expects income in 2006-2007 of CHF580 million, up 9.3 percent from its estimate of CHF531 million for that period. Income in 2008-2009 is projected to rise another 9.7 percent, and 8.8 percent again in 2010-2011, mainly due to higher than expected demand for its services related to international treaties on patents and trademarks.Early in 2007, WIPO will conduct consultations with members to determine how to use its potential surplus. In a paper prepared before the meeting, WIPO offered a number of options, including expanding programmatic areas of the organisation, specific investments such as upgrading the information technology infrastructure, or paying off part of the loan for the new construction project expected to begin in 2008. Finally, WIPO said a suggestion was made to lower patent fees. A combination of any of these also would be possible, it said.Other suggestions included better services or an increase in WIPO emergency reserves (from the 2000 General Assembly-approved 18 percent of biennial expenditures to the 2004-2005 external auditor recommendation of 25 percent). Some developing countries want the budget to reflect the proposed development agenda, including more technical assistance for developing countries, the participant said.Proposed Strategic Plan for 2008-2009The WIPO secretariat proposed five strategic goals for the next biennium, which must be approved at the 2007 General Assembly. These include: promoting a balanced IP system and realising its development potential; strengthening IP infrastructure, institutions and human resources; progressive development of international IP law; delivery of quality service in global IP protection systems; and greater efficiency of management and administrative support processes.According to the secretariat document for the meeting, the first goal would focus on promoting awareness of intellectual property, and reinforcing “linkages” with the rest of the United Nations system and all stakeholders, including non-governmental organisations. It also would include creating tools for policymakers to give them “a deeper understanding of the role and impact of IP on development,” plus improve the understanding of innovators, research institutions, small businesses and others.This goal also states that the development agenda under debate among WIPO members would considered “on the understanding that any agreed outcomes from the ongoing debate will be reflected in the implementation of all relevant programmes and activities of the organisation.” Finally, the goal would include examination of copyright in the online environment, with “consideration of how new business models and rights management technologies can promote access to digital content, including information in the public domain, while promoting creativity and addressing the interests of both owners and users of protected material.”During the discussion of the programme and budget on 11 December, Brazil, Ecuador, India, South Africa and others said it is important to ensure there is a focus on the development agenda, a participant said.WIPO’s second goal of strengthening IP infrastructure includes assistance for countries “for putting in place appropriate legislation” related to IP, including through new customised capacity-building plans for each country. Countries will have action plans with “clear criteria for evaluating success (benchmarks),” the secretariat said. This goal also includes a beefed-up programme for assisting member states in IP protection and enforcement efforts.On the third goal of the evolution of international IP law, the secretariat highlighted the need to address delays and quality in the granting of patents. It said members’ proposals for a new work plan for the Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP) are due by the end of 2006. But regardless, the WIPO International Bureau will pursue a work plan that captures some members’ wish to harmonise the global patent system as well as other members’ wish to see progress on “broad policy issues concerning the role and impact of the patent system.” The bureau also will seek to keep WIPO as a forum for discussing patent issues. This year, developed nations are negotiating for patent harmonisation outside WIPO.On copyright, the WIPO committee on copyright and related rights will address limitations and exceptions to rights (such as for libraries and visually impaired persons), law related to infringements, and implementation of the WIPO treaties on copyrights and performers’ rights, “particularly regarding provisions on technological measures of protection,” it said.The secretariat also highlighted the need to improve ways to deal with increasing patent applications under the Patent Cooperation Treaty, mainly by moving more activities to electronic format. PCT applications are expected to increase by 6 percent in 2007, after gains of 6.4 percent in 2004, 10.8 percent in 2005 and an expected 5.6 percent in 2006, WIPO said.In other areas, WIPO also said it would begin a “dialogue” with employees who are on short-term contractual arrangements as they have expressed dissatisfaction with their status. Overall, staffing has remained at December 2005 levels with significant movement of workers within the organisation, the secretariat said.Desk-to-Desk Review UnderwayOn a mandated “desk-to-desk” review aimed at determining that WIPO has the appropriate structure and levels of staffing to accomplish its mission, members increased their participation in the process. A selection team has chosen (from among several bids) consulting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers to conduct the review.The review is expected to be completed by end of June, with preliminary results by end of March. Secretariat oversight is being provided by Deputy Director General Francis Gurry, who also oversees issues related to patents.Based on suggestions from the United Kingdom, United States and others, a two-day update of the process will be held in mid-January. According to participants, the first day will be a meeting of the WIPO Audit Committee, WIPO and the consultants. The second day will be an informal “open-ended” meeting with any interested member states.Member states also will receive the latest terms of reference for the project, the original proposal by PriceWaterhouseCoopers and the project path (such as timeline) before holiday break at the end of December, the sources said.New Construction Still On For 2008According to a secretariat document of 30 November, the multimillion dollar construction of a new adjacent office building for WIPO headquarters remains on track to begin in February 2008 and last 26 months to April 2010. The secretariat did not report in the document the results of a cost audit this autumn intended to assess new levels of cost for the project.Care is being taken in the construction process to ensure transparency. The selection board at its second session on 25 October selected Burckhardt+Partner SA, a Swiss architectural company expert in project management, to be pilot of the project, it said. A contract was signed on 22 November. A third selection board meeting will be held in February to consider pre-selection of companies interested in the construction project.The General Assembly last year approved the construction in part because WIPO pays significant rental costs each year for staff working at various spots around Geneva.William New may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.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"Members Debate As WIPO Sees Budget Surpluses, Busy Programme For 2008" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.