WIPO Development Committee Ends On Positive Note With Modest Results

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After a week which many World Intellectual Property Organization delegates working on development issues found difficult, a degree of consensus appeared in the last hour late on 17 May. Developing countries’ requests were substantially scaled down as discussions on several areas threatened to be bogged down indefinitely.

A number of discussions on areas which could not meet consensus during the course of the 11th session of the Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP), from 13-17 May, were pushed to the last day to find solutions.

Hard lines had been taken during the session by opposing groups of countries, and in order to avoid the committee working late into the night, committee Chair Mohamed Siad Doualeh, the ambassador of Djibouti, presented a chair’s summary [pdf] in the morning of the last day to advance progress on the adoption of the report and advance on issues still open.

In the afternoon, a revised version [pdf] of the summary was published, followed by a number of revised paragraphs [pdf], before a final approved version [pdf] was issued late in the evening.

WIPO to Look At Sister Organisations for MDGs

Among the issues left open was the integration of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) into WIPO’s work. Delegates this week were asked to review a study [pdf] on the feasibility of the integration of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) into WIPO’s biennial results framework.

The results of the study were unevenly received by delegates, with developed countries satisfied with the conclusions of the study, and developing countries finding that more work should be done on the subject.

The study, authored by Glenn O’Neil, an evaluation consultant, followed a previous study written by Sisule Musungu, president of IQSensato consultancy, which assessed WIPO’s contribution to the achievement of the MDGs, discussed in two previous sessions of the CDIP (in November 2011 and November 2012).

According to the two studies, “the most explicit links between WIPO’s activities and the MDGs can be seen in the innovation/technology-related targets of MDGs” (1, 6 and 8).

The UN MDGs include eight goals, and 21 targets to be met by the deadline of 2015. The studies addressed goals 1 (eradicate extreme poverty and hunger), 6 (combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases), and 8 (develop a global partnership for development), and six targets: 1C (halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger), 6B (achieve, by 2010, universal access to treatment for HIV/AIDS for all those who need it), 6C (have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases), 8B (address the special needs of least developed countries), 8E (in cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable essential drugs in developing countries), and 8F (in cooperation with the private sector, make available benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications).

The O’Neil report also said it was “not judged as being necessary to introduce an additional set of MDG indicators to the RBM framework but more so to assess WIPO’s contribution through the reported performance on the Expected Results relevant to the given MDG targets.”

“The introduction of separate MDG indicators would not be advised for the various reasons set out in this paper,” it said.

Debate arose as most developing countries found that specific indicators should indeed be developed to measure WIPO’s contribution to the MDGs, while the Group B developed countries were of the opinion that this was unnecessary.

One of the concerns of developing countries was that the use of the WIPO programme performance reports (PPRs) as a basis of the assessment of WIPO’s contribution to the realisation of the MDGs, as it is a self-assessment.

The African Group requested that work be undertaken to develop specific indicators, and information to be gathered on how other UN agencies assessed their contribution to MDGs.

The United States said it would be supportive of the secretariat undertaking an informal assessment of other UN agencies with its own staffing. In particular, the secretariat should look at specialised UN agencies such as the International Telecommunication Union, the World Meteorological Organisation and the World Health Organization, which was supported by Group B and the European Union.

The Development Agenda Group (DAG) said that information on the practices of other UN agencies would not be enough by itself. A set of specific indicators was to be developed for the work of WIPO, and WIPO will be included into the comparative compilation. Developing countries were also in favour of looking at all MDGs, which was resisted by Group B.

The chair’s summary shows divergence but notes that the WIPO secretariat is requested to prepare a compilation of the practices used by other UN agencies and “to provide a brief report to the next session of the Committee as to how WIPO has contributed to the MDGs to date.”

CDIP to Continue Work on Patent Flexibilities

Another issue was future work of the CDIP on patent-related flexibilities, which member states had to decide upon. The document [pdf] on the table considered four possible patent-related flexibilities included in the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

– 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)

– Flexibility to apply or not criminal sanctions in patent enforcement (TRIPS Article 61)

– Measures related to security which might result in a limitation of patent rights (so-called “security exception” in TRIPS Article 73).

No agreement was reached at the last meeting on future work of the CDIP on those flexibilities (IPW, WIPO, 17 November 2013). Developing countries were insistent that the committee pursue its work on this subject, and include other flexibilities. Some countries mentioned flexibilities related to food security and access to affordable medicines.

All developing countries that took the floor, such as Argentina, Chile, China, Colombia, Pakistan, Venezuela, and the Development Agenda Group, supported further work of the CDIP on patent-related flexibilities.

On the last day, the discussions threatened to lead to the same fate as the last session. Group B said patent-related flexibilities were not a high priority for developed countries, while developing countries, such as the DAG, the African Group, the Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC), India and China said it was a top priority, and proposed that a list of other flexibilities be provided at the next CDIP.

Pakistan said the work on flexibilities was part of the WIPO Development Agenda, citing a number of recommendations (14, 17, 22 and 25).

The committee agreed to undertake further work on the two flexibilities on TRIPS Article 27, which had already been addressed, and asked the secretariat to prepare a factual document on the implementation in national laws of these flexibilities. The committee is expected to continue discussions on further work on flexibilities at its next session, from 18 – 22 November.

No Progress on New Agenda Item but Door Left Open

Also left open for the last day was the issue of a new standing agenda item on IP and development which developing countries have been requesting for a number of sessions, and which have been met by a firm refusal by developed countries. The latter have argued that the agenda item is redundant with the name of the committee and is too broad.

Developing countries say that establishment of this agenda item would fulfil the third pillar of the CDIP’s mandate, which is to “discuss IP and development related issues as agreed by the Committee, as well as those decided by the General Assembly.”

The chair, following a suggestion by Egypt, proposed that informal consultations be carried out before the next meeting to advance discussions, in particular to determine items that could be addressed under this new agenda item, but that Group B said they were not interested in such consultations.

Finally, it was decided that the committee would continue discussions at the next meeting and the chair encouraged member states to provide more details on the proposal [pdf] to establish this new agenda item by the DAG to facilitate future discussions.

Assessment of Development Agenda Moves Toward Action

The decision of the WIPO General Assembly to establish a Coordination Mechanism to mainstream the Development Agenda across all WIPO bodies included a decision for the CDIP to undertake an independent review of the implementation of the Development Agenda recommendations at the end of the 2012-2013 biennium.

On 14 May, the African Group and the DAG submitted a joint proposal [pdf] on the terms of reference of the review. The chair once again proposed to hold informal consultations as the deadline is approaching, which was not supported by Group B. The group instead suggested allocating more time to discuss the review at the next session of the CDIP.

In the end, the committee decided to devote sufficient time for discussion on the independent review at the next session and agreed to hold one informal meeting prior to the next session.

The committee also agreed to ask the secretariat to continue work on the improvement of its technical assistance in three areas, which had been decided earlier in the week (IPW, WIPO, 17 May 2013).

Some projects were also considered by the committee, including a proposal by South Korea on IP and design creation for business development in developing and least developed countries. The committee asked South Korea to further work on its proposal, with the help of the secretariat.

In its concluding remarks, the African Group underlined that the outcome of the session did not reach the expectations of the group, but remained positive.

 

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

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