G20 Envisions World IP Court; WIPO Hopeful HostPublished on 1 April 2009 @ 1:07 am
By Martin Frobisher for Intellectual Property Watch
LONDON—Leaders of the world’s largest economies struck a closed-door deal late Tuesday to create an international court for intellectual property litigation in a move sources said the leaders deemed a contribution to the global economy.
The agreement in principle on the eve of April Fool’s Day, to be a centrepiece of this week’s Group of 20 summit in London, has long been romanticised by some in the legal profession and signifies the arrival of intellectual property assets at the diplomatic table.
“It’s a hard-won coming of age for our once-humble IPRs,” said trusted confidant Chad R. Boxe. “The belle of the ball just can’t be shy any longer about her rightful place in the economic aristocracy.”
The so-called World Intellectual Property Litigation Court would be established by 2012, according to a copy of the communiqué obtained by Intellectual Property Watch. The idea for a global court arose at the UN World Intellectual Property Organization, according to sources at the highly regarded blogs IPKat and IP Think Tank. WIPO specialises in arbitration and mediation services as well as overseeing several key international treaties on aspects of IP rights such as the Patent Cooperation Treaty.
The court is seen by WIPO as an extension of its work with the treaties, and the agreement comes at a critical time for WIPO, which has not completed negotiations on a new treaty in years. “This fits with a growth strategy during the downturn,” said WIPO’s Charla Tan. “Litigation.”
In anticipation of the decision, WIPO broke ground on several construction sites which it will argue to its member governments are needed to house the courts and the fleet of translators that will come with them.
A WIPO person said, “The World Intellectual Property Organization welcomes the adoption of this proposal as a recognition of the need to balance the requirements of least-developed litigation nations (the “LDL” group) with the fair treatment of intellectual property owners and creators, having regard to the organisation’s development programme and the need to preserve the organisation’s prerogatives from unwarranted encroachments by the World Trade Organization.”
Officials said several years of studies, reports and meetings would likely be needed. Also, “said court must, inter alia, be subject to jurisdictional provisions in individual Members’ laws, the merits thereof, taking into account capacity to make legal provisions and enforce same, and notwithstanding and without prejudice to prior protections, precedence and ramifications as codified within the legislation of competent authorities’ authority areas,” explained Blovia Torr, a communications specialist working with the UN secretariat. The communiqué is under copyright and cannot be posted on this site.
A G20 delegate, speaking on his own behalf and on condition of anonymity, revealed that leaders had enjoyed “a rich discussion.”
“It was a very constructive meeting,” he confided cautiously.
Despite the leaders’ spirit of accord, difficult questions remain for the proposal, according to sources. China is seeking to locate the court in China, since commonly cited statistics indicate the largest portion of infringing goods originate there. France insists a forum in China will only be acceptable if the official language of the proceedings is French. Germany is calling for the use of German judges for the sake of efficiency, while the United States is holding out for rendition of defendants so that their liability can be established before they stand trial. Britain argues that if the court is to be located outside the United Kingdom, it should have a British president.
G20 insiders have indicated that the proposed court is to be overseen by a panel of influential and internationally respected jurists in the field of intellectual property, of whom Señor Ignacio P. Gato has been touted as a possible candidate. Prof. Dr. Dr. jur. Wilhelm Neu is also among the contenders, as is the Eastern jurist Dun Kan Buc Nel.
The G20 nations: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States, plus the European Union (represented by the rotating Council presidency and the European Central Bank).
Martin Frobisher is an occasional confabulator for Intellectual Property Watch.
Martin Frobisher may be reached at email@example.com.