Development Agenda Implementation Discussed Before WIPO Assemblies 18/09/2007 by Paul Garwood for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a 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 Paul Garwood More technical assistance to developing countries, closer collaboration between UN agencies and overhauling the World Intellectual Property Organization were among calls made during a conference of leading players in the intellectual property community held Monday. The conference, entitled “The Reform of WIPO: Implementing the Development Agenda,” was the second such event. The previous took place on the eve of the 2004 WIPO General Assemblies at which the Development Agenda proposal was first raised by Argentina and Brazil. At that time, a group of leading academics and public interest groups published the Geneva Declaration on the Future of WIPO which raised concern that public interest be considered alongside rising IP protection and gathered hundreds of signatures, including from Nobel Prize laureates and other dignitaries. Again, the latest conference, organised by the Trans Atlantic Consumer Dialogue, was held days before the WIPO General Assemblies address proposals by member states for a Development Agenda, in a bid to influence the debate by countries participating in the UN meeting. The assembly, which will focus on far-reaching measures to overhaul WIPO, comes at a time when the UN body is fending off criticisms over management and calls to better serve developing countries so they can benefit from intellectual property provisions and flexibilities, particularly in access to medicines and knowledge. “We are going through times of change in WIPO and we should keep pushing the interests of all stakeholders (so) the debate can be transformed into something concrete,” Guilherme Patriota, a counsellor from Brazil’s mission to the UN, told the conference. “There has been an unbalance that needs to be addressed.” The Provisional Committee on Proposals for a WIPO Development Agenda (PCDA) this year recommended 45 proposals for the General Assemblies to endorse. The recommendations, which follow repeated calls by non-governmental organisations and others for WIPO to broaden its mandate, take into account public concerns with ownership of technologies and knowledge and the impact of these areas on poor and wealthy countries. Among the PCDA proposals are about a dozen it believes WIPO can implement immediately, including providing development-oriented, demand-driven technical assistance, particularly in least developed countries, and increasing financial assistance to make it happen. “There will be specific aspects that require immediate implementation,” Argentine Ambassador to the UN, Alberto Dumont, told Intellectual Property Watch on the sidelines of the conference. “I see this most in the areas of technical assistance and to have a system where there is better exchange of information between the various UN programmes. There also must be more transparency within WIPO.” Carolyn Deere, director of the Global Trade Governance Project at the University of Oxford (and Intellectual Property Watch founder), proposed wide-ranging structural reforms within WIPO to give more powers to member states. Deere also suggested removing the WIPO secretariat’s control over the organisation’s coffers and placing it under a newly created executive board comprising countries. “For an organisation as large as WIPO, it is very difficult for any member state to exercise oversight of the organisation,” Deere said. On fees that WIPO charges for patents, Brazil’s Patriota told Intellectual Property Watch that the General Assemblies should reject efforts by the United States and Japan to reduce charges that companies pay WIPO for patent applications, saying it could turn the UN body’s budget surplus into a deficit and, in turn, impact on services the organisation can provide to developing countries. Boosting capacity within WIPO to design programmes that meet country specific needs is vital, speakers said during the conference, as is increasing technical assistance inside countries to help them benefit from intellectual property, including for health. “We must establish the needs of a particular country,” said Ron Marchant, ex-chief executive of the United Kingdom Patent Office. “We can’t make clones of intellectual property (for every country to use). WIPO needs to then create programmes and projects, and the lack of skills of WIPO call[s] for this kind of work (to be done) through a mixture of external and internal (professionals).” Sangeeta Shashikant, researcher for the Third World Network non-governmental organisation, said countries needed legislative assistance to help draft laws that can be applied to local conditions. “Countries are at different levels of development so (the same rules concerning) intellectual property cannot be applied to all,” Shashikant told the conference. On access to medicines, Pascale Boulet of Médecins Sans Frontières said WIPO should offer more technical support to help countries use the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). TRIPS allows countries, particularly in the developing world, to make drugs to safeguard public health in national emergencies or for non-commercial purposes. “WIPO should provide advice that has a pro-health perspective rather than an IP protection focus,” Boulet told the conference. Michelle Childs, London representative and head of European affairs for Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), urged WIPO to adopt concrete measures to help guide the organisation’s work. Childs supported a recent proposal made by Chile to WIPO’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights that called for exceptions and limitations in copyright to be made in the fields of education, libraries and for people with disabilities. KEI calls for a global minimum set of limitations and exceptions for these three areas. “Users and consumers are not a homogenous group,” Childs said. “There are obviously differences in consumers between developed and developing countries, but there are also differences amongst consumers, and consumers with a disability are an example.” Paul Garwood may be reached at email@example.com. "Development Agenda Implementation Discussed Before WIPO Assemblies" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.