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    In A ‘Major Achievement’, WIPO Negotiators Create New Development Mandate

    Published on 18 June 2007 @ 12:07 am

    Intellectual Property Watch

    By William New
    Members of a World Intellectual Property Organization committee addressing proposals for a WIPO Development Agenda last week potentially rewrote the UN body’s mandate, pending approval.

    Negotiators concluded a weeklong meeting with agreements on a wide range of proposals for new development-related activities – some hard to imagine for WIPO two years ago – and a recommendation to set up a new committee to implement the proposals.

    “This is a major achievement,” said a participating official. “It’s a complete overhaul of the WIPO concept, broadening it to reflect society’s growing concern with ownership of technologies and knowledge, and its effects for the future, both in developed and developing countries.”

    The 11-15 June Provisional Committee on Proposals for a WIPO Development Agenda (PCDA) also agreed to hold a one-day final meeting on 4 September to approve the chair’s report and the list of proposals to be implemented immediately based on informal consultations, according to an official. The PCDA recommendations from this meeting, and a previous one in February, will be submitted to the September General Assembly for final decision.

    June PCDA recommendations to General Assembly here

    June PCDA final proposals, clusters A to E here

    The United States, meanwhile, moved quickly to emphasise the inclusion of IP protection and that the recommendations are within the existing WIPO mandate. It also sought to tie the outcome to its hope for a renewed effort at harmonising national patent laws.

    The creation of the new WIPO Committee on Development and IP, which would hold its first meeting in the first half of 2008, will spell the end of the two-year-old PCDA, as well as a related existing committee, the Permanent Committee on Cooperation for Development Related to Intellectual Property (PCIPD).

    The new committee will start immediately to:

    “develop a work programme for implementation of the adopted recommendations, monitor

    monitor, assess, discuss and report on the implementation of all recommendations adopted, and for that purpose it shall coordinate with relevant bodies;

    discuss IP and development related issues as agreed by the Committee, as well as those decided by the General Assembly.”

    PCDA Chair Trevor Clarke, the Barbados ambassador in Geneva, would be asked to prepare the initial working documents, including a draft work programme – including financial and human resources needs – in consultation with WIPO members and the secretariat.

    All of the 45 proposals agreed in this year’s PCDA process will be adopted by the General Assembly and implemented, the participant said. There were 24 proposals agreed in February (IPW, WIPO, 23 February 2007). There are approximately 21 newly agreed proposals from the June meeting (IPW, WIPO, 15 June); IPW, WIPO, 14 June 2007; and IPW, WIPO, 14 June 2007).

    The idea for WIPO reform originated from Brazil and Argentina in 2004. The 45 recommendations were narrowed from 111 proposals submitted by a variety of countries over two years. All of the main issues from the original 111 proposals appear to have been retained in the process.

    Proposals agreed last week ranged from technical assistance to the making of rules, to technology transfer, to development impact assessments, to WIPO’s mandate. Topics range from protection to competition to access to knowledge to open collaborative models to support for the public domain. On the latter issue, an earlier reservation by Colombia appeared to have been preserved.

    US Ties Outcome To Patent Harmonisation

    The United States was seen by others as a gritty but fair negotiator during last week’s meeting. But the US may have had another objective in sight as it agreed to development compromises: patent harmonisation.

    Immediately following the meeting conclusion, the United States issued a statement that highlighted the importance of continuing WIPO’s work on development as well as on intellectual property protection.

    But it also tried to tie the outcome to the need for WIPO members to revive efforts to harmonise national patent laws, an issue that has met with a lukewarm reception among developing countries in the past.

    WIPO members should “intensify consultations with the chair of the WIPO General Assembly with a view to reviving work in a core area of WIPO’s business, substantive patent law harmonisation,” it said. “The 2007 General Assembly should agree not only on development proposals and the creation of a Development and IP Committee, but also on ambitious plans for substantive patent law harmonisation and resumption of the work of the Standing Committee on the Law of Patents.”

    The patent case may be a hard one for the United States and the rest of the developed countries to make, as they have spent 2007 working outside WIPO with reportedly little success to try to further harmonise their own laws.

    Group B+ Patent Harmonisation Meeting Postponed

    A planned formal meeting of the Group B-plus (the WIPO developed-country group plus others in the European Patent Organization), to have been hosted by the US Patent and Trademark Office, was postponed. In the meantime, the chair of the process, Anne Rejnhold Jørgensen of the Danish Patent Office, will hold informal consultations, she told Intellectual Property Watch.

    One such consultation will take place in Copenhagen on 4 and 5 July. Participation at the Copenhagen meeting is still unclear though countries have been invited, she said. Developed country sources said the formal meeting could be held in the autumn.

    It is unclear how much progress developed countries have made in finding ways to make their laws more alike, but they have focussed on a few areas. One is whether to recognise the first to file for a patent or the first to invent the idea, which is the US rule. The United States’ patent reform effort, which has some momentum this year, would include a first-to-file provision, but it would still be different from the European first-to-file and might create new problems, a European official said.

    Many developing countries have signalled that they are yet to be convinced of the advantages to them of harmonisation. In addition, a developing country source said the language of the agreed PCDA recommendations makes clear that development was established as a WIPO programme of work, and that it would not be acceptable to link it with patent harmonisation.

    The newly agreed Development Agenda proposals along with those agreed at the February PCDA meeting, “reinforce WIPO’s commitment to the needs of developing countries,” the United States said in a release. “At the same time, they reaffirm WIPO’s clear mandate as the specialised UN agency that promotes the protection of intellectual property worldwide.”

    The US said it views the proposals as reflecting “member states’ recognition of the role that intellectual property plays in development, and their commitment to providing support to building national capacity to protect innovation and creativity.”

    “During the negotiations, the US stressed that efforts to weaken the international IP framework or to fundamentally change WIPO’s current mission, which is to promote the protection of intellectual property, would not be consistent with the economic and development goals of its members,” it said.

    The US vowed to “do its utmost to ensure that WIPO continues to contribute to development by deepening and expanding its intellectual property expertise, within its established mandate, and without duplicating the work of other international organisations.”

    But it then urged that “the progress made on development issues also extend to other areas of WIPO’s work.”

    William New may be reached at wnew@ip-watch.ch.

     


    Leave a Reply

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website. By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website.

    By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    1. You agree that you are fully responsible for the content that you post. You will not knowingly post content that violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property right of any third party or which you know is under a confidentiality obligation preventing its publication and that you will request removal of the same should you discover that you have violated this provision. Likewise, you may not post content that is libelous, defamatory, obscene, abusive, that violates a third party's right to privacy, that otherwise violates any applicable local, state, national or international law, that amounts to spamming or that is otherwise inappropriate. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence are also prohibited. Furthermore, you may not impersonate others.

    2. You understand and agree that Intellectual Property Watch is not responsible for any content posted by you or third parties. You further understand that IP Watch does not monitor the content posted. Nevertheless, IP Watch may monitor the any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove, edit or otherwise alter content that it deems inappropriate for any reason whatever without consent nor notice. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on our site. IP Watch is not in any manner endorsing the content of the discussion forums and cannot and will not vouch for its reliability or otherwise accept liability for it.

    3. By submitting any contribution to IP Watch, you warrant that your contribution is your own original work and that you have the right to make it available to IP Watch for all purposes and you agree to indemnify IP Watch, its directors, employees and agents against all damages, legal fees and others expenses that may be incurred by IP Watch as a result of your breach of warranty or of these terms.

    4. You further agree not to publish any personal information about yourself or anyone else (for example telephone number or home address). If you add a comment to a blog, be aware that your email address will be apparent.

    5. IP Watch will not be liable for any loss including but not limited to the following (whether such losses are foreseen, known or otherwise): loss of data, loss of revenue or anticipated profit, loss of business, loss of opportunity, loss of goodwill or injury to reputation, losses suffered by third parties, any indirect, consequential or exemplary damages.

    6. You understand and agree that the discussion forums are to be used only for non-commercial purposes. You may not solicit funds, promote commercial entities or otherwise engage in commercial activity in our discussion forums.

    7. You acknowledge and agree that you use and/or rely on any information obtained through the discussion forums at your own risk.

    8. For any content that you post, you hereby grant to IP Watch the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, exclusive and fully sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part, world-wide and to incorporate it in other works, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

    9. These terms and your posts and contributions shall be governed and interpreted in accordance with the laws of Switzerland (without giving effect to conflict of laws principles thereof) and any dispute exclusively settled by the Courts of the Canton of Geneva.

     

     
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