Full Agenda For WIPO Committee On Development This Week

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After a difficult session last May, the World Intellectual Property Organization committee examining the development dimension of WIPO activities will reconvene next week with a substantive agenda. In particular, delegates will assess progress of ongoing projects, consider reports on finished projects, and consider the committee’s future work. They also will consider a conference on IP and development.

The 10th session of the Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP) will meet from 12-16 November.

Delegates will examine the yearly progress report prepared by the WIPO secretariat, giving an overview on all ongoing projects [pdf]. According to WIPO, the report presents strategies adopted to implement each recommendation, and highlights the main achievements.

The projects answer to the WIPO Development Agenda, adopted by the 2007 General Assembly, which contains 45 recommendations, 19 of which were selected for immediate implementation.

The draft agenda [pdf] also shows a list of evaluation reports for individual completed projects. The evaluation reports are carried out either by independent external auditors, or by the WIPO Internal Audit and Oversight Division.

One such project [pdf] is on intellectual property, information and communication technologies (ICTs), the digital divide, and access to knowledge. The project arose from Development Agenda recommendations 19 (access to knowledge and technology for developing countries an LCDs to foster innovation), 24 (bridging the digital divide), and 27 (facilitate intellectual property-related aspects of Information and Communication Technology for growth and development).

Another project [pdf] is on developing tools for access to patent information. This project followed Development Agenda recommendations 19, 30 (WIPO should cooperate with other IGOs to provide developing countries advice on how to gain access to and make use of intellectual property-related information on technology), and 31 (contribute to transfer of technology to developing countries).

CDIP Work Programme; Patent Flexibilities Contentious

The CDIP will also consider the work programme for implementation of adopted recommendations. On the list of documents to be discussed is a revised version of a study [pdf] on assessing WIPO’s contribution to the achievement of United Nations Millennium Development Goals. The study was discussed by the CDIP at its 8th session from 14-18 November 2011 and the Committee had requested that the study be revised and re-submitted, according to WIPO.

The future work on patent-related flexibilities in the multilateral legal framework also will be discussed by delegates. At the last session of the CDIP, from 7-11 May, divergence between countries arose around the committee’s work on flexibilities. Developed countries in particular voiced concern about duplicating work already carried out in the WIPO Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (IPW, WIPO, 12 May 2012).

Included in the documents are comments received from member states on the list of four patent-related flexibilities to be addressed by the CDIP. In particular, the United States reiterated its support for “WIPO’s efforts to make available advice to developing countries and LDCs on ‘the rights and obligations and the understanding and use of flexibilities contained in the TRIPS Agreement,’ as expressly required by Development Agenda Recommendation 14,” but they added that the committee should not duplicate work and ” respects both the subject matter expertise of other committees and CDIP’s unique mandate.”

The European Union said the “World Trade Organisation is the relevant forum to discuss the application of TRIPS rules and flexibilities and, at the least, should be associated and consulted in any such discussion.” The four flexibilities mentioned are found in the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

“The CDIP has an important role to play in the discussion on flexibilities in the IP Regime,” according to the Development Agenda Group (DAG). The DAG supports “the strengthening of the Work Program on Flexibilities in the Intellectual Property System that includes not only studies on the matter, but also very practical activities, such as the development of a database that compiles national experiences regarding the implementation of such flexibilities.” They also noted that the four patent-related flexibilities identified during the last session of the CDIP are not exhaustive of all patent-related flexibilities.

The four patent-related flexibilities are: the scope of the exclusion from patentability of plants (TRIPS Article 27), flexibilities in respect of the patentability, or exclusion from patentability, of software-related inventions (TRIPS Article 27), the flexibility to apply or not criminal sanctions in patent enforcement (TRIPS Article 61), and measures related to security that might result in a limitation of patent rights (TRIPS Article 73).

The CDIP will also have to decide on the second phase of a project [pdf] meant to develop tools for access to patent information, and study the terms of reference for a comparative study on copyright relinquishment [pdf].

According to WIPO, during the last session of the CDIP, member states decided to follow a recommendation by the secretariat to commission a study on voluntary copyright relinquishment. This follows one of the recommendations of a scoping study on copyright and related rights and the public domain [pdf], carried out by Séverine Dusollier, professor at the University of Namur (IPW, WIPO, 26 November 2010).

The recommendation reads as follows: “The voluntary relinquishment of copyright in works and dedication to the public domain should be recognized as a legitimate exercise of authorship and copyright exclusivity, to the extent permitted by national laws (possibly excluding any abandonment of moral rights) and upon the condition of a formally expressed, informed and free consent of the author. Further research could certainly be carried out on that point”.

Developing Countries Propose Conference on Development

On 6 November, the delegation of Brazil, on behalf of the DAG, submitted suggestions [pdf] for a conference on intellectual property and development. Developing countries have asked repeatedly that a standing agenda item on IP and development be added to the CDIP agenda, and have met resistance from developed countries (IPW, WIPO, 9 May 2012).

In an updated document dated April 2011 [pdf], featuring a proposal by the DAG of a CDIP new agenda item on IP and development during the 6th session of the Committee from 22-26 November 2010, the DAG said that ” WIPO’s Program and Budget for 2010/2011 contains, in the section on the Development Agenda Coordination Division, a reference to the organization of a ‘Major International Conference on Integrating Development into IP Policy-Making’.”

The suggestions for the conference on IP and development, which is proposed to last for three days and be organised “in the second half of 2013″ include suggested themes, such as IP and public health, IP rights and creativity, IP and environment, and the WIPO role and related governance issues.

Catherine Saez may be reached at info@ip-watch.ch.

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