WIPO Design Treaty: Work On Articles, Capacity Building Next Time

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At the close of a World Intellectual Property Organization meeting dedicated solely to a potential new treaty on industrial design law and practice, delegates agreed to continue working on the draft instrument at the next session. But they will also have to address divergent views on how to integrate technical assistance and capacity building into the treaty.

The 28th session of the Standing Committee on the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications (SCT) met from 10-14 December.

The summary by the meeting chair [pdf] was released at the beginning of the afternoon of the final day and was followed by a long informal discussion on the wording of the document, in particular on two proposals on technical assistance and capacity building which will become working documents at the next session of the meeting. One of those proposals was made by the African Group, the other one by the European Union (IPW, WIPO, 13 December 2012). The summary of the chair was adopted with some changes in the wording.

The chair of the SCT, Imre Gonda of the Hungarian Intellectual Property Office, told Intellectual Property Watch that progress was made on the draft articles and regulations, though he did not specify.

The conclusion adopted by the WIPO General Assembly in October prompted a deeper involvement by delegates in drafting discussions. The General Assembly requested SCT members to expedite work with “a view to advance substantially the basic proposals for a Design Law Treaty” (IPW, WIPO, 10 December 2012). Gonda said this decision prompted work from the experts on a technical level.

In addition, “a number of delegations used the time between the last session and this one to reconsider their position and some individual proposals were withdrawn,” he said. One of such example was Brazil withdrawing its proposal to include “indications concerning the identity of the creator of the industrial design” to the list of filing-date requirements in paragraph (1)” in Article 5 (Filing date). Most draft articles and draft regulations include a series of footnotes reflecting proposals by countries at previous sessions.

Pricklier was the second mandate of the General Assembly, which required that the SCT consider including ““appropriate provisions regarding technical assistance and capacity building for developing countries and LDCs [least-developed countries] in the implementation of the future Design Law Treaty.”

To this effect, at the beginning of the week, the African Group issued a proposal [pdf], followed by a proposal on 13 December by the European Union. The African Group proposal requests the addition of four articles in the text of the treaty, while the European Union proposal [pdf] is a resolution supplementary to the potential treaty.

According to the summary by the chair, both documents will become working documents at the next session. Paragraph 9 of the summary was divided into two distinct paragraphs each presenting one proposal. The one devoted to the African Group proposal now includes a mention which reads: “draft articles on technical assistance and capacity building to be integrated in the industrial design law and practice treaty.”

Paragraph 10 of the chair’s summary was amended and now reads: “The SCT requested the Secretariat to publish them [the two proposals] as SCT working documents for further consideration of the committee at its twenty-ninth session.” On 13 December, given the very different nature of the proposals tabled by the two groups, and the fact that the EU proposals came late in the week, the SCT decided to give more time to delegations to study the proposals, and that equal treatment should be given to them.

According to the chair’s document, the WIPO secretariat is requested to revise the document SCT/28/4 (Overview of provisions regarding technical assistance and capacity building in treaties administered by WIPO) to include the text of the provisions on financial assistance in the treaties referred to in Section 1 of document SCT/28/4 (Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances, Washington Treaty on Intellectual Property in Respect of Integrated Circuits, WIPO Copyright Treaty, and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty).

The document should be complemented with detailed information concerning the current practices, in WIPO, of financing the participation of delegations in meetings of the assemblies of treaties administered by WIPO.

This followed a discussion on the African Group proposal asking that developing countries and LDC contracting parties of the future treaty be granted “adequate financial assistance by WIPO to facilitate the participation of at least one delegate … in all ordinary and extraordinary sessions of the Assembly, and any inter-sessional meeting, working group, revision conference or diplomatic conference” in relation to the treaty and its regulations.

Study Resuscitated

Members agreed to reopen a study on the impact of the potential treaty, in particular on developing countries, after those countries refused to let go of the issue.

On the first day of the meeting, the Development Agenda Group requested that discussions on the study on the potential impact of the work of the SCT on industrial design law and practice be continued, and that an agenda item be added to this effect.

At the last session of the SCT, from 18-21 September, countries could not agree on future work on this study. The European Union and Group B developed countries found the study met the requirements of the terms of reference, while developing countries said more work should be done on the study and in particular to allow more application and IP offices in developing countries to provide answers to the surveys upon which the study was constructed.

On 13 December, delegates spend the afternoon in informal discussions. It was agreed that the study would be reopened and two additional months would be given to collect additional responses from members, including members which had provided incomplete answers.

Paragraph 11 of the chair’s summary was amended so that it now reads: “Following informal consultations among delegations, the Chair concluded that without prejudice to the work on the Draft Design Law Treaty, the Secretariat was requested to extending for an additional period of two months the surveys that were conducted in preparing the Study… in order to increase the available data sample by way of new responses, as well as by way of the possibility of amending or completing earlier responses. The Study should be updated for consideration of the SCT at its twenty-ninth session, taking into account additional replies received. The general structure of the Study should be maintained. Some delegations were of the view that such a request was on an exceptional basis.”

This followed a request by Brazil on behalf of the Development Agenda Group, and the last sentence was proposed by the European Union. The numbering of the paragraphs will be changed as paragraph 9 was split in two paragraphs.

The tentative dates for the 29th session of the SCT are from 27-31 May.

 

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

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