SMEs, Innovation Division, External Offices Capture Attention At WIPO 12/09/2013 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch 3 Comments Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)The proposed establishment of new World Intellectual Property Organization external offices gave way to a lot of discussion today (11 September) in the WIPO committee overseeing programmes and budget. Other targets of debate: small and medium-sized enterprises, accountability for the WIPO Global Issues Division, implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty on copyright exceptions for the blind, and potential treaty negotiations in the next biennium – all with no decisions yet. One of the main tasks of WIPO delegates attending the 21st session of the Program and Budget Committee (PBC) from 9-13 September is to agree on the programmes carried out by the organisation. The committee went through all programmes in the proposed Program and Budget, even though some had been settled in the previous session of the PBC in July, according to PBC Chair Hisham Badr of Egypt. Of particular concern in the Program and Budget document were: programme 3 (Copyright and related rights), programme 4 (Traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expressions and genetic resources), programme 6 (Madrid and Lisbon systems), programme 18 (IP and global challenges), and programme 20 (External relations, partnerships and external offices). Also extensively discussed were: programme 30 (Small and medium-sized enterprises) which was considered together with programme 9 (Africa, Arab, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean Countries, Least Developed Countries), and programme 10 (Cooperation with certain countries in Europe and Asia). Implementation of Marrakesh Treaty In June, WIPO members successfully negotiated the “Marrakesh Treaty to Improve Access to Published Works for Persons who are Blind, Visually Impaired, or otherwise Print Disabled.” This offers copyright exceptions and limitations. The Development Agenda Group said on 10 September that the newly adopted treaty was not given enough attention in the first version of the Program and Budget. Some changes were made, said the delegate of Brazil speaking on behalf of the DAG, but insufficient. The delegate proposed to add language in paragraph 3.13 (implementation strategy) on a multi-stakeholder foundation including the beneficiaries of the treaty, authorised entities, member states and right holders. The suggested changes are meant to ensure that the implementation of the treaty will receive adequate resources and to “clarify that the TIGAR Project and the Marrakesh Treaty are two different initiatives,” he said. The Trusted Intermediary Global Accessible Resources (TIGAR project) is a project of a Stakeholders’ Platform which was initially created in the context of the discussions in the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) on access to copyrighted books in special formats for visually-impaired persons. The two initiatives have two different perspectives, said the Brazilian delegate. One is based on a licensing model and is voluntary, while the other is a binding treaty (yet to gain enough ratifications to be enforced). There is no mandate approved by member states to incorporate the TIGAR Project in the Marrakesh Treaty, the delegate said. The Stakeholders’ Platform includes WIPO and a number of organisations representing authors and publishers, as well as visually impaired persons. The World Blind Union, which was part of the Platform suspended its participation in 2011 (IPW, WIPO, 10 March 2011). A number of member states shared the concerns of the DAG, including Egypt, Guatemala and Mexico. Dan Pescod, who led the World Blind Union’s (WBU) European campaign for the treaty told Intellectual Property Watch that the WBU will look again at its suspension from the Stakeholders’ Platform to be held on 11 November at a Stakeholders’ Platform meeting being organised by WIPO. TK, TCEs and Genetic Resources Programme 4 includes a provision for a possible diplomatic conference (a final, top-level negotiation) in 2014/2015 following the discussions in the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC). This provision raised the concerns of several developed countries arguing that it could prejudge the results of the IGC discussions, and in particular the nature of the legal instrument still to be decided upon. The United States said too much work remains to plan a high-level meeting and suggested deleting the language referring to a diplomatic conference. If a diplomatic conference is possible, funding could be covered with existing resources, the delegation said. This was seconded by Japan, Sweden, Poland, Korea, Germany, and Canada which said the budget should reflect the state of discussions in WIPO committees. The US, Canada, and Sweden expressed their support for the IGC but said they did not wish to have a reference to a diplomatic conference. India opposed the deletion, and Egypt required equal treatment for any other planned diplomatic conference in the financial overview (listed on page 24-25), such as a design law treaty, and the adoption of a revised Lisbon System of the International Registration of Appellations of Origin. Russia also supported programme 4 as it was presented, so did China, underlining the importance of the IGC for developing countries. Bangladesh, Trinidad and Tobago, Pakistan joined in approval. Australia said it supports the budget allocation for a diplomatic conference but understanding the sensitivity of some member countries, proposed to change the language and include a mention such as “subject to approval by member states” after the mention of the diplomatic conference. It was suggested to delete the specific mention of the three potential diplomatic conferences in the financial overview. Madrid and Lisbon Systems Programme 6 was also supposed to have been settled in July but was reopened yesterday. The US delegation said the inclusion of geographical indications (GIs) (which are names of products indicative of a specific geographical origin from which they derive particular qualities, reputation or characteristics) in the Lisbon system is inappropriate. The delegation gave three reasons: GIs are not within the mandate of the Lisbon Working Group, adding GIs to the Lisbon Agreement could prejudice negotiations currently taking place at the World Trade Organization and potentially conflict with provisions of the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), and adding GIs to the basic proposal would involve resources by WIPO members to prevent conflicts with other agreements that involve related subject matter. The US expressed its preference for GIs to be dealt with by the WIPO Standing Committee on the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications. The cost for the proposed diplomatic conference is CHF 130,000 while the Lisbon system has generated no income dating from 2004, said the delegation. The United States is concerned about the trend of diplomatic conference earmarks, the delegate said. Australia also voiced concerns about the prospect of a diplomatic conference and the extension of the Lisbon Agreement to GIs. A number of countries, and proponents of GIs, including Italy, supported by Iran, and the Central European and Baltic States Group, remarked that the Lisbon Working Group was open to the participation of observers. Switzerland, which is not yet party to the agreement, said it has participated actively in the working group and contributed to the current draft. France, Poland, Peru, Turkey, and Georgia also supported the adoption of programme 6. SMEs; US Wants Innovation Division Back Programme 30 was reinstalled at the request of member states during the last PBC meeting in July. However, the US said it was concerned that only SMEs had been reinstalled in programme 30, and not the innovation part of the programme. The US wants the innovation division to remain intact with the same amount of funding and the same number of posts, said the delegate. The creation of the innovation division made sense in 2011 and still does, he argued. “The US cannot understand why after less than a year in existence the secretariat wants to cast the various functions of programme 30 and the staff of the innovation division to the far reaches of the organisation.” Despite the fact the unit was approved for the 2012/2013 biennium, “we understand that the abolishment of the division” through staff moves is already underway, the delegate said, “which we strongly oppose.” The US challenged the secretariat’s ability to “abruptly dismantle” the programme. “We [member states] decide what the priorities are for the organisation, not the secretariat.” Korea also voiced concerns about the diminished function of the innovation division and asked that programme 30 be maintained as in the current biennium, so did Canada. Italy, said programme 30 should be more ambitious and contain several activities, including innovation. Egypt also noted that innovation is a core function and especially important for SMEs. Algeria, for the African Group, said the group gives full support to programme 30 as adopted under the previous biennium, and supported Italy on its request to have a more ambitious programme 30. IP and Global Challenges Division On programme 18, some member states expressed concern about the programme not being subject to oversight of member states in a committee. Brazil, for the DAG, proposed that the programme report to the Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP), supported by India for the Asia and Pacific Group, who added that there need to be committee level discussions guiding the secretariat on important issues such as climate change, food security, and health. That was also supported by the African Group and China. Group B developed countries noted that the global challenges division is involved in many activities and did not see the benefit of a specific reporting mechanism to the CDIP. Several developed countries said the PBC is also competent to discuss programmes. Brazil for the DAG said the division was reported on in the PBC but discussions about the division should be carried out in a committee, as member states have many questions and no proper forum in which to raise them. The programme is discussed in the PBC for budgetary purposes, said Algeria for the African Group, but no substantive discussions can be carried out in the PBC. The WIPO secretariat said some other WIPO programmes do not specifically report to committees but the programme would be very interested in getting member states’ input and engage member states in the programme activities. The WIPO official also urged member states to participate in informal written and oral briefings on the programme. WIPO New External Offices The subject of new external WIPO offices sparked long discussions. A large number of delegations took the floor, which Chair Badr interpreted as a sign of the recognition of the importance of innovation and IP, a victory for the IP system. The secretariat said 23 countries had confirmed their candidacy to host a WIPO external office as of July and that last week Iran also proposed to host an external office raising the number to 24 candidate countries. The proposed five new offices are to be based in China, Russia, the United States, and two in Africa, to the dismay of the GRULAC Group, which would have like to have an external office in a Spanish-speaking Latin American country (there is one external office in Brazil), and India. If most of the countries which took the floor approved the principle of external offices, they asked for more transparency on the choice made and that some criteria and guidelines be established to ensure fair and equal treatment of candidate countries, and more clarity on the mandate of new external offices. The African Group gave its support to the secretariat’s proposal of five new external offices, and said WIPO should strengthen its presence in the field. The Group B said a budget should be allocated in the new program and budget document for the possible establishment of new external offices. The group also requested a new clear member state-driven strategy and that the establishment of any new external WIPO office should be subject to the same objective criteria and principles. The developed-country group proposed a set of objective conditions to be taken into account, including a strong business case to be presented by the secretariat to member states for each new external office, that the establishment of a new external office should not imply any increase in overall staff and/or of expenditure in the overall budget, that each external office shall publish a yearly report of activities, that each new external office have a regional vocation, and guarantees shall be given regarding the confidentiality and security of the WIPO data contained and used in the external offices. The discussed programmes have yet to be approved, pending a revised version of those programmes to be agreed by member states before the end of the PBC. Separately, the WIPO staff association asked to address the PBC on Friday morning but no delegation proved interested by this presentation. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Catherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com."SMEs, Innovation Division, External Offices Capture Attention At WIPO" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.