“Less Difficult” First WIPO Development Committee Meeting BeginsPublished on 3 March 2008 @ 8:46 pm
Intellectual Property Watch
By William New
The “historic” first day of the new World Intellectual Property Organization Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP) opened with a focus on procedure, a focus likely to carry through the whole first week, according to participants.
“The goal [of this week’s meeting] is to progress on the first and most important item agreed in the General Assembly last year: to develop a work programme for the implementation of the adopted recommendations,” said C. Trevor Clarke, who was elected chair of the committee at the outset. Clarke, the ambassador of Barbados to the Geneva institutions, spoke to Intellectual Property Watch alongside the committee meeting, which runs from 3 to 7 March. The Development Committee oversee implementation of the new WIPO Development Agenda.
“It requires consultations between different divisions in the secretariat, and between the secretariat and different members, with the chair,” he said. “What exactly [they need] to achieve is agreement on the activities that would identify what WIPO needs to do on the adopted proposals.”
This year, there is somewhat less tension surrounding the Development Agenda topic, he said. Last year, WIPO members agreed on 45 proposals, and now the focus is on implementation. “This is less difficult,” Clarke said.
Implementation has two elements, he said: Getting started, and continuing. The Development Agenda is the continuation, he said, but “right now, we’re in the ‘getting started.’”
The 2007 WIPO annual assemblies mandated that the committee hold two meetings of five days each this year, of which this is the first (the second expected in July). In the meetings members are to work to implement 45 previously agreed proposals, 19 of them (seen as requiring less financial or human resources) immediately. All 45 were accorded equal priority, however.
The 19 proposals fall in the clusters of: technical assistance and capacity building; norm-setting, flexibilities, public domain and public policy; assessment, evaluation and impact studies; and institutional matters, including mandate and governance.
The list of 45 recommendations and of the 19 recommendations are available in this story: (IPW, WIPO, 29 September 2007).
At the outset of this week’s meeting, separate comments were provided on many of the 45 recommendations by the WIPO secretariat, the Friends of Development (the 15 countries that cosponsored the Development Agenda proposal), Korea, and Central European and Baltic States. The WIPO comments are available here: part I [pdf, 10.6Mb] – part II [pdf, 8.9Mb]. The comments of the member states is available here [pdf, 7.3Mb].
The secretariat provided extensive comments to recommendations, highlighting work being done or capable of being done to address them. For instance, it is prepared to undertake studies and pilot initiatives, work on databases, develop agreements with research institutions, establish “innovation centres” in developing countries, organise workshops and meetings on many issues, for instance, licensing, and awareness-raising on “new approaches to copyright licensing, for example Creative Commons and open-source software,” or flexibilities under international trade law. Other topics involve the impact of IP in the creative industries, measuring copyright piracy, open collaborative structures in the life sciences, and “brain drain” of talent from developing countries, especially in Africa. Development also may be a focus of a session of the Advisory Committee on Enforcement.
In its comments (a non-paper), the Friends of Development offered suggestions on most of the 19 recommendations to be immediately implemented, as well as on the other 26 recommendations. The Friends group asked the secretariat whether there has been a response to the director general communication to all divisions related to the 19 recommendations. It added that “principles” should be taken into account in all technical assistance activities, the use of consultants and a report on consultants. It also suggested that letters be sent to the chairs of relevant WIPO committees to incorporate the agreed-upon more development-oriented approach, and that a number of the recommendations be added to the WIPO manual for staff regulations and rules. They also called for an open forum on facilitating access to knowledge and fostering innovation, and studies being made available to all members.
On the remaining 26 recommendations, the Friends group, which is led by Brazil and Argentina, had many detailed suggestions, such as calling for monitoring and rules for management of funds, training of patent examiners, letters to committee chairs and other international organisations, and other actions aimed at ensuring that WIPO activities and capabilities are fully beneficial to all of its members.
Korea’s comments highlighted its work in a number of areas, especially of its IP Panorama project, an interactive multimedia product that explains the uses and benefits of IP. It suggested ways its model could be used elsewhere in the world.
The Central European and Baltic States comments were rather minimal, suggesting a webpage for WIPO technical assistance, regional, sub-regional and national events on the use of flexibilities provided for in international agreements, a questionnaire on IP-related policies that developed countries in particular could adopt to encourage technology transfer to developing countries, among other things.
The meeting has also provided a showcase for a few candidates to be the next director general of WIPO who are in attendance, including Alicia Adamczak of Poland and Boris Simonov of Russia.
William New may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.