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The Politicization Of The US Patent System

The Washington Post story, How patent reform’s fraught politics have left USPTO still without a boss (July 30), is a vivid account of how patent reform has divided the US economy, preempting a possible replacement for David Kappos who stepped down 18 months ago. The division is even bigger than portrayed. Universities have lined up en masse to oppose reform, while main street businesses that merely use technology argue for reform. Reminiscent of the partisan divide that has paralyzed US politics, this struggle crosses party lines and extends well beyond the usual inter-industry debates. Framed in terms of combating patent trolls through technical legal fixes, there lurks a broader economic concern – to what extent ordinary retailers, bank, restaurants, local banks, motels, realtors, and travel agents should bear the burden of defending against patents as a cost of doing business.


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    Gaps Persist On WIPO Development Dimension

    Published on 15 November 2012 @ 1:35 am

    By , Intellectual Property Watch

    The development dimension of the UN World Intellectual Property Organization is under scrutiny by member states this week, and after a smooth start and a general commitment to work cooperatively and constructively, discussions have demonstrated strongly held positions, leaving countries to try and find common ground.

    The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) 10th session of the Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP) is taking place from 12-16 November, with a heavy agenda [pdf] and a long list of projects to review and work programmes to consider. The exercise of the CDIP is to see how WIPO is implementing its Development Agenda recommendations.

    On 12 November, member states started to go through the progress reports [pdf] on 13 projects prepared by the WIPO secretariat. Most of the projects were deemed very important by developing countries.

    On 13 November, the CDIP continued with the progress reports of ongoing projects. In particular, the project on Intellectual Property and Brain Drain, presented by the project manager, WIPO Chief Economist Carsten Fink. The project aimed at getting a better understanding of the relationship between brain drain (talented individuals leaving the country to seek jobs elsewhere) and IP policies and protection. The project is two-fold: a mapping exercise and the convening of an international workshop to discuss the main findings of the mapping exercise.

    Several developing countries expressed concern about the methodology of the project and the assumption that the lack of strong IP rights could encourage inventors to migrate to countries offering stronger IP protection. They said that migration is a complex phenomenon and the lack of IP did not seem a significant factor behind brain drain. Fink said that from WIPO’s perspective, it was important that the project be linked to IP. Since many different international organisations are conducting work on migration questions, it would have been “a little bit problematic” that WIPO addressed the issue from a general perspective.

    Coordination Mechanism, Bone of Contention

    The rather good-natured discussions took a turn for the worse when delegates started considering the contribution of the relevant WIPO bodies to the implementation of the respective Development Agenda recommendations [pdf]. The thorny subject of that discussion is the coordination mechanisms and monitoring, assessing and reporting modalities adopted by the WIPO General Assembly in 2010.

    The coordination mechanism requests that the relevant WIPO bodies include in their annual report to the General Assembly a description of their contribution to the implementation of the respective Development Agenda recommendations. But the fact that the adopted text refers to “relevant committees” has created a divide in the interpretation of the text.

    In particular, the WIPO document tabled at this session of the CDIP, which is a compilation of interventions made by countries, does not include the Program and Budget Committee (PBC) and the Committee on WIPO Standards (CWS) to the dismay of developing countries.

    Brazil, on behalf of the Development Agenda Group, said the group regrets that the PBC and CWS are not recognised by all member states as relevant bodies in the context of the implementation of the Development Agenda recommendations. At the last session of the CDIP, the Brazilian delegate said, the African Group proposed the elaboration of a report summarising the main points raised by different delegations in other to provide a more meaningful and comprehensive assessment as member states would be able to identify areas where further efforts are necessary and study possible improvements.

    Egypt said the current WIPO document “represents a mere reproduction of statements made by delegation before the committees … and contains no added-value.” India said it reiterated its request to have a structured presentation of the report for meaningful analysis of the information provided by the relevant bodies. India also requested that the PBC and the CWS be recognised as relevant bodies in the context of the Development Agenda recommendations, in particular given the fact that the Development Agenda recommendations “represent an integral part of the PBC substantive work with each and every programme indicating its linkages with the Development Agenda.”

    A number of developing countries, such as Pakistan and Iran, supported the request of the inclusion of PBC and CWS as “relevant” WIPO bodies and for a structured presentation of contributions.

    Belgium on behalf of Group B developed countries said the group reiterated its long-standing position that neither the PBC nor the CWS “are subject to the coordination mechanism.” The coordination mechanism never called on all committees but on relevant bodies, which implies the existence of non-relevant bodies with respect to the WIPO Development Agenda recommendations, he said. The CDIP is not the appropriate forum for this discussion, he said, adding that it is up to the WIPO bodies to determine their relevance.

    The Belgian delegate also said the group considered that the existing flexible modalities for reporting were relevant and functioning. Group B was supported by the United States, Canada, Switzerland, Monaco, the United Kingdom, Japan, France and Russia.

    South Africa, supported by Pakistan and Venezuela, said a list of relevant bodies is necessary and the decision on what committee should report to the CDIP should be taken to the General Assembly level. The discussions are going in circles, the delegate said, and the issue is not being resolved. South Africa also asked that the reporting be “user friendly.”

    The CDIP then considered six independent evaluation reports on completed projects. Phase II of the Developing Tools for Access to Patent Information was adopted by the committee on 14 November.

    The committee also considered the assessment of a revised version of a study [pdf] on WIPO’s Contribution to the Achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

    Criticisms were voiced by developing countries on the methodology of the study and the fact that the study is based on WIPO Program Performance Reports (PPR), which are a self-assessment tool of the secretariat, and as such cannot be used as a sole reference of the WIPO contribution to MDGs.

    WIPO Technical Assistance; Confusion over New Project

    Member states appeared to agree on the necessity to move ahead on some of the recommendations of the External Review of WIPO Technical Assistance in the Area of Cooperation for Development, written by Carolyn Deere-Birkbeck and Santiago Roca. The review [pdf] was presented during the 8th session of the CDIP. It was followed by a management response [pdf], and at the last session, a joint proposal [pdf] by the DAG, the African Group and co-sponsored by Bolivia.

    Algeria on behalf of the African Group said the joint proposal was meant to identify recommendations in the Deere/Roca report that could be implemented immediately. Brazil, on behalf of the DAG confirmed that the joint proposal was based on the Deere/Roca report.

    Belgium, on behalf of Group B, supported by the European Union, Japan, and Australia, created a slight surprise by proposing to hold a dedicated one day discussion during the next CDIP to review best practices, based on the identification of WIPO and non-WIPO technical assistance, with the view to improve technical assistance and technical cooperation. The debate, he said, should go forward in a balanced and constructive way.

    A long discussion followed, with Pakistan proposing that an action plan be set up to take recommendations one after the other and decide which ones met consensus and could be implemented at once. South Africa expressed concern that the Group B-proposed exercise might undermine the Deere/Roca report recommendations.

    The chair decided to break the session an hour early to have delegations meet informally to discuss a way forward on the subject.

    CDIP Chair Mohamed Siad Doualeh, the ambassador of Djibouti, proposed two concluding remarks after discussion, both of which will have to be amended before submission to the plenary at the end of the week.

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

     

    Comments

    1. Study: UN Development Needs Reform; US, Indian Ambassadors Agree | Intellectual Property Watch says:

      [...] The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is holding the 10th session of the Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP) from 12-16 November (IPW, WIPO, 15 November 2012). [...]

    2. CDIP Agrees To IP And Development Conference; Other Tough Issues Kept Open | Intellectual Property Watch says:

      [...] One prickly issue was the contribution of the relevant WIPO bodies to the implementation of the recommendations of the 2007 WIPO Development Agenda. Developing countries challenged the fact that two WIPO committees were not reporting to the CDIP and asked that the General Assembly be asked to define a precise list of relevant bodies (IPW, WIPO, 15 November 2012). [...]

    3. CDIP Agrees To IP And Development Conference; Other Tough Issues Kept Open says:

      [...] One prickly issue was the contribution of the relevant WIPO bodies to the implementation of the recommendations of the 2007 WIPO Development Agenda. Developing countries challenged the fact that two WIPO committees were not reporting to the CDIP and asked that the General Assembly be asked to define a precise list of relevant bodies (IPW, WIPO, 15 November 2012). [...]


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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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