Debate At WIPO Over Process For Technical Assistance Review

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Members of the World Intellectual Property Organization this week are slogging through a series of documents related to intellectual property and development. But one document, an external report on WIPO’s provision of technical cooperation assistance, has given way to a substantive discussion about how to fully address the report’s findings of the need for improvement at the UN agency.

The WIPO Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP) is meeting from 14-18 November. The CDIP oversees the implementation of the 2007 Development Agenda. All documents for the meeting are available here.

At midday today, the final day, a draft plan for addressing the external report was circulated among regional coordinators. The plan would create an informal working group to assess the report by the next CDIP meeting.

At issue is a report, CDIP/8/INF/1, entitled, “An External Review of WIPO Technical Assistance in the Area of Cooperation for Development.” The report was mandated by the CDIP, in relation to Development Agenda Recommendation 41, and covered WIPO technical assistance from 2008 through 2010. The authors are independent consultants Carolyn Deere-Birkbeck, senior researcher at the Global Economic Governance Programme at Oxford University, and Santiago Roca, professor of economics at ESAN University Graduate School of Business in Lima, Peru.

Deere briefly presented on the report to the CDIP plenary yesterday, but was not asked to present on findings or take significant questions about the content, according to participants. In looking for a way to address the report, developing countries called for the creation of a subcommittee to look more deeply into the report, while developed countries suggested that the WIPO secretariat provide written answers and updates to the report, sources said.

Informal consultations were held among regional coordinators on how to proceed, and the midday draft plan appears to represent a first effort at compromise. It is expected to be discussed this afternoon.

The draft plan states:

“Modalities for the Informal Working Group on the External Review of Technical Assistance (CDIP/8/INF/1)

1. The informal working group will be open to regional coordinators and other interested delegates.

2. There will be no budgetary implications associated with the informal working group (e.g. travel, interpretation, etc.).

3. The informal working group will commence its work after CDIP 8, with the committment to present a report on its findings to CDIP 9. If the CDIP deems that it is necessary to extend the informal working group, it may do so by consensus at CDIP 9.

4. The informal working group should strive to review CDIP/8/INF/1, with the goal of identifying recommendations that are redundant or no longer relevant. The informal working group may also choose to discuss the substantive elements of the recommendations in an effort to save time for discussions during CDIP 9. However, there will be no prioritization of recommendations.

5. The report to be presented shall not duplicate the work of the CDIP, nor direct the CDIP to take action, but only serve as a tool to expedite the discussions within the CDIP.

6. The work carried out by the informal working group shall proceed in parallel with that of the Secretariat as directed by the project (CDIP/4/8, Section .23, Component 2, para (c), page 10), and its accompanying terms of reference.

7. One day should be set aside in CDIP 9 to discuss the informal working group’s report, and, more broadly, CDIP/8/INF/1.”

The roughly 270-page external report addresses the full range of WIPO technical assistance activities worldwide, and was submitted in summer. It contains a nearly 40-page executive summary with highlighted recommendations, and an introduction, followed by sections on organizational arrangements and trends, relevance and orientation, impact, assessment by pillar of development cooperation, management and efficiency, coordination, and annexes and bibliography.

In general, the researchers found that information needed for a comprehensive understanding of WIPO’s technical cooperation work does not yet exist or is not coordinated in a consistent way, leading to a series of recommendations on how to improve reporting and data.

Examples of recommendations include: better integration of Development Agenda principles, guidelines and best practices; improving the development-orientation of activities; improving prioritisation and balance of activities; integrating budgets and planning for all development cooperation activities; and improving demand management, partnership and outreach for development cooperation. Other proposals were to strengthen results and impact monitoring, evaluation and reporting; expand use of non-governmental stakeholders; and a host of ways to improve management of technical cooperation such as stronger structures, frameworks and measurement.

(Note: Deere is also founder and Board Chair of Intellectual Property Watch and Roca is former head of the intellectual property office in Peru, but the review is entirely separate from those activities.)

Discussion on the technical assistance review was suspended yesterday to allow for informal consultations.

WIPO Deputy Director General Geoffrey Onyeama told the plenary that this “situation is really unique,” according to participants, reflecting the new terrain for deciding how to proceed with the report. He pointed to a different case of an external “desk-to-desk” jobs assessment within WIPO conducted several years ago, that is still the source of change with the organisation.

Other topics under discussion this week include: a feasibility study on the establishment of national patent register databases and linkage to PatentScope; a study on Patents and Public Domain; interaction of agencies dealing with intellectual property and competition law; interaction between exhaustion of intellectual rights and competition law; a report on an analysis of the economic/legal literature on the effects of intellectual property (IP) rights as a barrier to entry; a taxonomy-analytical study for the project on open collaborative projects and IP-based models (Recommendation 36); progress reports on projects and recommendations; intellectual property and the informal economy; assessing WIPO’s contribution to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); future work programme on flexibilities in the intellectual property system; description of the relevant WIPO bodies to the implementation of the respective Development Agenda recommendations; project paper for the project on intellectual property and technology transfer: common challenges – building solutions (Recommendations 19, 25, 26 and 28); a proposal by the delegation of Burkina Faso [related to strengthening the audiovisual sector in that country]; and a scoping study on copyright and related rights and the public domain.

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

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