CDIP Agrees To IP And Development Conference; Other Tough Issues Kept Open

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Delegates meeting this week to assess how the World Intellectual Property Organization is instilling a development dimension in its activity had to tackle a marathon session with a large agenda, many projects to assess, and some issues regarding the mandate of the committee. Divergence remained on the agenda of the week but countries agreed on some items, including the convening of a conference on intellectual property and development in 2013.

The 10th session of the WIPO Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP) took place from 12-16 November. At the onset of the session, CDIP Chair Mohamed Siad Doualeh, the ambassador of Djibouti, had proposed an innovative methodology, with delegates asked to approve summaries of discussions on each agenda item. The process, the chair told Intellectual Property Watch, needs to be refined but was an improvement over the usual process of going over the summary of the chair late on the last day of the meeting.

This new methodology gained the general support of countries but did not do much to breach the gap between divergent positions and delegates finished the meeting late in the night. The summary of the chair [pdf] was issued late on Friday after some intense discussions were needed to agree on the advance summaries [pdf].

Some 13 ongoing projects were considered by the committee, which agreed on revised timelines for some of those projects. The committee also went through the evaluation of completed projects.

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).

Under item 7 of the agenda [pdf] delegates considered the WIPO contribution to the achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and engaged WIPO to take the necessary steps to join the MDG Gap Task Force.

Future Work on Patent Flexibilities Pushed to Next Session

Delegates also hotly discussed the future work on patent-related flexibilities in the multilateral legal framework. No agreement on the matter could be achieved and the discussion will be pursued at the next session of the CDIP.

In general, developed countries are of the opinion that the topic of flexibilities is already dealt with in the WIPO Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP).

Egypt, on behalf of the African Group said, on Friday that the “African Group attaches great importance to WIPO work programme on flexibilities,” which should be carried on in both the CDIP and the SCP. IP flexibilities are “an integral part of the IP system,” the delegate said. The African Group requested the WIPO secretariat to continue work on flexibilities, with a particular focus on the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), he added.

The Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries (GRULAC) asked the secretariat to continue its work on flexibilities with an emphasis on Article 27 of TRIPS (patentable subject matter), as did the DAG, in conformity with its submission in document CDIP/10/11 (IPW, WIPO, 11 November 2012).

The African Group asked that the WIPO secretariat prepare a paper elaborating on the public health-related patent flexibilities available in the TRIPS Agreement to facilitate access to affordable medicines in developing and least developed countries. The delegate also asked that “WIPO issue a study on the role and importance of copyright related flexibilities in facilitating access to knowledge and bridging the digital divide, in developing and least developing countries.”

More Work on External Review

The external review of WIPO technical assistance in the area of cooperation for development [pdf] gave way to extensive discussions during the week. The committee agreed that the secretariat would prepare a document identifying the recommendations that are in the process of implementation, and report on their progress. The committee will further discuss the topic at the next session.

On 15 November, WIPO Deputy Director General Geoffrey Onyeama said in the context of the external review that although there was no formal request from the committee to prepare a manual on technical assistance, the secretariat felt there was merit in having such a manual for the benefit of developing countries. WIPO thus compiled an exhaustive and comprehensive catalogue of the technical assistance provided by WIPO, entitled “WIPO Development Tools and Services,” just off the press for this session of the CDIP, with a temporary cover, he said.

Standing Agenda Item on IP and Development

Another sticky issue was the request by developing countries to have a standing agenda item on intellectual property and development, strongly resisted by Group B developed countries as being superfluous since the role of the CDIP is to discuss IP and development, although they said they would be willing to discuss agenda items relating to development at each session. The European Union, the United States and Japan supported this opposition view.

Brazil, on behalf of the DAG, said the CDIP has an important role to play and reviewing projects is critical, but in reflection of the third pillar of the Development Agenda it is necessary to have space for a permanent basis to discuss issues of IP and development.

Egypt for the African Group said the CDIP had been addressing the first and second pillar of its mandate but not the third. The CDIP is presented as having a three-fold mission: develop a work programme for implementation of the 45 adopted Development Agenda recommendations; monitor, assess, discuss and report on the implementation of all recommendations adopted, and for that purpose it shall coordinate with relevant WIPO bodies; and discuss IP and development-related issues as agreed by the committee, as well as those decided by the General Assembly.

South Africa said the committee has been discussing this issue for the last five sessions and it gave way to “endless rhetoric statements.” It proposed that the issue be taken back to the General Assembly, supported by countries such as Pakistan, the African Group, Brazil and Sri Lanka.

In the summary by the chair, the conclusion on this item is still a draft and delegates had difficulty in agreeing on language that would allow the item to stay on the agenda at the next session. Group B countries and the European Union stood fast on their positions, as did the DAG and the African Group. In the opinion of Group B countries, the committee had not approved the discussion to be carried into the next session, while developing countries argued that the difficult discussions to plenary were in fact never finished as the committee went on to another agenda item in the meantime. They finally agreed to say that the discussions on this agenda item were not concluded.

Development and IP Conference in 2013

Consensus was found on the convening of a conference on development and IP in 2013. The conference appears in a document [pdf] dated 7 April 2011 submitted by Brazil on behalf of the DAG. In the proposal, the DAG said “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 DAG proposed that the preparation of the conference be dealt with within the CDIP. The conference has been discussed ever since.

After the CDIP chair held consultations on the evening of 15 November, delegates agreed on a title, date and venue for the conference: The International Conference on IP and Development, in the second half of 2013, in Geneva. It was decided that the conference would span two or three days.

Questions remained on the content of the conference, and in particular on the themes to be presented. An open-ended informal consultation should be convened within two to four weeks. The date of the conference could not be agreed on as the secretariat has not issued dates for permanent WIPO committee meetings for 2013.

An updated version of the chair’s summary is expected to be posted soon on the WIPO website, including the future work on which the committee has agreed.

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

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