WIPO Patent Meeting May End Early With Little Harmonisation In Work Plan 25/06/2008 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch 2 Comments 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 World Intellectual Property Organization members addressing international patent policy this week may end work early after an apparent agreement to recommend the continuation of the committee next year and a possible focus on some 20 issues. The members appear to be planning to recommend further research by WIPO for the next meeting on a patent database, exceptions and limitations to patents, standards related to patents, and attorney-client privilege, according to a draft chair’s report from the meeting. The draft chair’s report is available here. The Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP) is slated to meet from 23 to 27 June, but participants said Wednesday night that possibly only one issue remained to be resolved before conclusion early on Thursday. In addition to a list of possible topics for committee focus, the group may propose that the director general include in the 2009 programme and budget a provision for a conference on issues “relating to the intersection of patents and certain areas of public policy such as health, the environment, climate change or food security.” Some developing countries were concerned that these issues be considered fully within the context of the committee’s work, as reflects a more social orientation to WIPO’s work under the new Development Agenda. The holding of a side conference might cause the topics to be sidelined, a developing country official said. Members agreed that the secretariat report, document SCP/12/3, would remain open for discussion at the next session of the SCP and would be open for written comments to the secretariat, which will reflect the comments in footnotes or annexes. They also can submit to the secretariat further suggestions on the future work programme of the SCP. The list of issues to be discussed also will remain open for discussion at the next meeting, which is suggested to take place in the first quarter of 2009. It includes the primary issue of interest to the Group B developed countries: further harmonisation of national patent laws. WIPO was asked to prepare preliminary studies for the next meeting on four issues, which do not include harmonisation, a topic of historic contention in the committee and resisted again this week by developing countries. Two of the topics to be studied were on the Group B (developed countries) list of topics of secondary interest after harmonisation. They are: dissemination of patent information (including a database on search and examination reports), and client-attorney privilege. The other two to be studied fall into a category of topics of primary interest to developing countries: exceptions from patentable subject matter and limitations to the rights, and patents and standards. The non-exhaustive list of issues the committee might take up in the future includes: the economic impact of the patent system, technology transfer, competition policy, dissemination of patent information, standards, alternative models of innovation, harmonisation of patentability requirements (such as prior art, novelty, inventive step, industrial applicability, or disclosure), disclosure of inventions, database on search and examination reports, opposition system, exceptions from patentable subject matter, limitations to rights, research exemption, compulsory licences, client-attorney privilege, patents and health, patents and biodiversity/traditional knowledge, and patents and other public policy issues. Developing countries also approve of technology transfer, and a policy on anti-competitive practices, but the latter historically has met with opposition by developed countries and “IP purists” within WIPO who see the issue belonging to the realm of antitrust and other venues while WIPO should stay focussed on IP rights only, a competition policy proponent said. The list was based on a proposal by Chairman Maximiliano Santa Cruz of Chile, reflecting topics from a WIPO secretariat report on patents prepared for the meeting and raised by governments in the meeting. There is no indication of consensus on the topics. The group had not formally met since 2006 after a lack of agreement on topics to be discussed in the committee. This week’s meeting represents a revival of the committee though there was little indication from participants that the common spirit reaches much beyond agreement to resume talking. As one participating government official said, “It’s the beginning of a new cycle.” William New may be reached at email@example.com. "WIPO Patent Meeting May End Early With Little Harmonisation In Work Plan" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.