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    US Congressional Committee Cancels Briefing, Blames WIPO Director General

    Published on 24 July 2012 @ 8:43 pm

    By , Intellectual Property Watch

    The United States House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee today cancelled its briefing on computer and software shipments to Iran and North Korea authorised by the World Intellectual Property Organization. The committee took the action after WIPO Director General Francis Gurry blocked two senior staff from participating in the meeting. [Updated below.]

    “Director-General Gurry is obstructing this Committee’s investigation of WIPO’s transfer of U.S.-origin technology to rogue regimes under international sanctions—a transfer that occurred on his watch,” said a statement issued by Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Florida Republican) and Howard Berman (California Democrat), the chair and ranking member, respectively, of the committee. “Because Mr. Gurry denied two senior WIPO staff members permission to brief Congress on what they know, the Committee has been forced to cancel a briefing which could have afforded our Members an opportunity to get answers.”

    Gurry denied permission to Deputy Director General James Pooley, an American, and Miranda Brown, a strategic advisor to the director general, on the grounds that neither were directly involved in the technical assistance programme to deliver computers and software. Brown is an Australian, as is Gurry. The WIPO organigram of top staff is here.

    Gurry did give permission to the whistleblower in the case, Moncef Kateb, and has indicated that he would allow other officials to attend (IPW, WIPO, 23 July 2012).

    It is not known why the committee is targeting those two WIPO officials for testifying. The committee leaders also said Gurry’s announcement that WIPO will undertake a review is not sufficient.

    “Last week, Director-General Gurry announced WIPO would commission a mere review of technical assistance programs rather than the full, independent investigation demanded by this Committee,” they said. “By refusing to commission an independent investigation and by obstructing an investigation by the Congress of the United States, whose citizens provide so much of the funds that keep WIPO operating, Director-General Gurry sends the message that he is not committed to transparency, accountability, and reform.”

    “We urge Director-General Gurry to change course and immediately allow WIPO personnel invited by the Committee to testify and appear without fear of any form of retaliation for their testimony.”

    The briefing website was here.

    Fox previously published the internal WIPO documents related to the computer shipments, available here.

    The relevant UN committees for North Korea and Iran, both sanctioned countries, are reviewing the shipments at the UN in New York.

    WIPO could not be reached for comment at press time.

    [Update:] Intellectual Property Watch has learned that Director General Gurry sent a letter to the committee dated 23 July – the day before the committee press release – expressing the seriousness with which his office is taking allegations being made, and informing them that he is personally willing to appear before the committee at a 1 August hearing it has apparently planned, along with any other competent WIPO official with knowledge of the computer transfer.

    Gurry also told the committee that he would provide anything else they need, and took issue with an allegation that he is focussed more on the whistleblower than on an investigation. He said his only focus is to get thorough and credible information about the programme.

    [Update 2:] The US State Department today said that it has preliminarily concluded that WIPO did not violate UN sanctions. See story here.

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

     

    Comments

    1. Tim Roberts says:

      “Obstructing..”, eh?

      The response from the US Committee to Director-General Gurry seems over the top. It doesn’t inspire sympathy for their view.

    2. Most-Read IP-Watch Stories Of 2012: India Pharma, Europe, ACTA, WIPO Technical Assistance, Gene Patents | Intellectual Property Watch says:

      [...] US Congressional Committee Cancels Briefing, Blames WIPO Director General http://www.ip-watch.org/2012/07/24/us-congressional-committee-cancels-briefing-blames-wipo-director-… [...]

    3. Members Of US Congress Urge US To Oppose Re-Election Of WIPO Director Gurry | Intellectual Property Watch says:

      […] but cancelled it after they said Gurry obstructed them from getting access to certain witnesses (IPW, WIPO, 24 July 2012). The effort came at the high point of the US presidential campaign and was seen by some as having […]

    4. Article: WIPO Director Gurry In Hot Seat On Eve Of Election Deadline | Intellectual Property Watch says:

      […] prevented some WIPO officials from testifying in a committee hearing on the highly political issue (IPW, WIPO, 24 July 2012), and more recently for general questions of management (IPW, WIPO, 20 September […]


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    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website. By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website.

    By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    1. You agree that you are fully responsible for the content that you post. You will not knowingly post content that violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property right of any third party or which you know is under a confidentiality obligation preventing its publication and that you will request removal of the same should you discover that you have violated this provision. Likewise, you may not post content that is libelous, defamatory, obscene, abusive, that violates a third party's right to privacy, that otherwise violates any applicable local, state, national or international law, that amounts to spamming or that is otherwise inappropriate. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence are also prohibited. Furthermore, you may not impersonate others.

    2. You understand and agree that Intellectual Property Watch is not responsible for any content posted by you or third parties. You further understand that IP Watch does not monitor the content posted. Nevertheless, IP Watch may monitor the any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove, edit or otherwise alter content that it deems inappropriate for any reason whatever without consent nor notice. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on our site. IP Watch is not in any manner endorsing the content of the discussion forums and cannot and will not vouch for its reliability or otherwise accept liability for it.

    3. By submitting any contribution to IP Watch, you warrant that your contribution is your own original work and that you have the right to make it available to IP Watch for all purposes and you agree to indemnify IP Watch, its directors, employees and agents against all damages, legal fees and others expenses that may be incurred by IP Watch as a result of your breach of warranty or of these terms.

    4. You further agree not to publish any personal information about yourself or anyone else (for example telephone number or home address). If you add a comment to a blog, be aware that your email address will be apparent.

    5. IP Watch will not be liable for any loss including but not limited to the following (whether such losses are foreseen, known or otherwise): loss of data, loss of revenue or anticipated profit, loss of business, loss of opportunity, loss of goodwill or injury to reputation, losses suffered by third parties, any indirect, consequential or exemplary damages.

    6. You understand and agree that the discussion forums are to be used only for non-commercial purposes. You may not solicit funds, promote commercial entities or otherwise engage in commercial activity in our discussion forums.

    7. You acknowledge and agree that you use and/or rely on any information obtained through the discussion forums at your own risk.

    8. For any content that you post, you hereby grant to IP Watch the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, exclusive and fully sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part, world-wide and to incorporate it in other works, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

    9. These terms and your posts and contributions shall be governed and interpreted in accordance with the laws of Switzerland (without giving effect to conflict of laws principles thereof) and any dispute exclusively settled by the Courts of the Canton of Geneva.

     

     
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