WIPO Approves 15 New Observers, Including DNDi, COHRED; Pirate Parties RejectedPublished on 25 September 2013 @ 9:32 pm
By William New, Intellectual Property Watch
Member governments of the UN World Intellectual Property Organization today approved 15 new observers to the organisation, including three international organisations, and a range of nongovernmental organisations such as two significant public health-oriented groups. But two groups were rejected, including the high-profile Pirate Parties International. Separately, the member governments of the important WIPO Program and Budget Committee were also announced today.
The WIPO General Assemblies are taking place from 23 September to 2 October.
More information on the groups applying for observer status is available here.
For general background information on WIPO observers see here.
The intergovernmental organisations are:
Clarin Eric – established in 2012 and based in Utrecht, Netherlands, with the objective “to advance research in humanities and social sciences by giving researchers unified access to a platform which integrates language-based resources and advanced tools at a European level.”
Regional Book Center for Book Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLALC) – established in 1986 with the objective of providing technical assistance on projects to develop books, reading and copyright.
West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) – established and headquartered in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, its aim is for member states to harmonize their fiscal and economic policies and strengthen their common currency. Includes Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte D’Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo.
Seven international nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) put forward an application:
(i) International Society for the Development of Intellectual Property (ADALPI);
(ii) Council on Health Research for Development (COHRED);
(iii) Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi);
(iv) International Ayurveda Foundation (IAF);
(v) International Human Rights & Anti-Corruption Society (IHRAS)
(vi) International Institute for Intellectual Property Management (IPM); and
(vii) Pirate Parties International (PPI)
ADALPI was founded in Bern in 2010 and is based in Geneva, working to “secure an appropriate working environment in which creators and innovators can flourish by fostering the development of IP worldwide.”
COHRED was established in 1993 and is headquartered in Geneva. It “aims to improve health, equity, and development by supporting countries to develop strong research and innovation systems.”
DNDi was established in 2003, is headquartered in Geneva, and its objectives are “to stimulate and support R&D primarily of drugs, as well as vaccines and diagnostics for neglected diseases,” among other priorities.
International Ayurveda Foundation (IAF) has headquarters in London and Bombay. It is “a healthcare-based organization that also focuses on promoting protection of the intellectual property rights of traditional knowledge of Ayurvedic practices and formulations.”
International Human Rights & Anti-Corruption Society (IHRAS) – established in 1999 and headquartered in Ikot Ekpene, Nigeria. It exists to support “all the Declarations and Resolutions of the United Nations on promotion of human rights and anti-corruption, environment, labor, peace security, good governance, democracy and development,” among other issues.
International Institute for Intellectual Property Management (IIIPM) – founded in 2008 and headquartered in Wil, Switzerland. Its objective is to “study and address problems relating to the management of IP, and to promote the training and continuing education on the different aspects of IP management.”
Pirate Parties International – established in 2010 and headquartered in Brussels. PPI “exists to establish, support, promote, and maintain communication and co-operation between pirate parties around the world.” Its application stated that: “PPI is not a political or authoritative entity.” It “aims to act according to its members’ major goals and interests; raise awareness and widen the spread of the pirate movement, unify the pirate movement, and strengthen its bonds internally and externally.” It said that IP issues “of particular interest to PPI include copying monopoly and related issues, users’ freedoms on the internet, developing laws and standards, economics of copying and new business methods, and enforcement of copying monopoly.”
Pirate Parties Blocked
In the floor debate at the Assembly today, it was noted that the Pirate Party decision had been deferred from the 2012 General Assembly. Belgium on behalf of the Group B developed countries asked whether any UN agency had approved an umbrella organiation of political parties. The United States asked for more information about PPI’s activities and objectives, including in relation to WIPO. And Poland on behalf of the Central European and Baltic States (CEBS) said the Pirate Party is a political party with goals in contradiction to the goals of WIPO, which it said are to promote IP rights around the world.
WIPO General Counsel Edward Kwakwa said WIPO was not aware of any umbrella organisation of a political party being given observer status to a UN agency. He also said WIPO had no additional information about its activities other than what PPI provided.
Knowledge Ecology International said that Socialists International are an observer at the UN International Labour Organization. KEI also said they thought it would reflect poorly on Belgium, the United States, and Poland if they blocked the application, and that PPI’s participation at WIPO would make debates there “richer”.
A representative of PPI, present under the Civil Society Coalition, said the parties have over 85,000 members, and that they have lobbied for changes to IP policies. He said their point of view is not very well represented in legal debates, and ought to be.
The General Assembly chair Päivi Kairamo, the Finnish ambassador to the UN in Geneva, closed the matter quickly by declaring that PPI could not be accepted as there was opposition to its observership. There was no objection from other WIPO members so the decision was gavelled.
Seven national NGOs also were applicants:
(i) Asociación Argentina de Intérpretes (AADI);
(ii) Association marocaine des conseils en propriété industrielle
(iii) Asociación Nacional de Denominaciones de Origen
(iv) Emirates Intellectual Property Association (EIPA);
(v) Innovation Council of Kenya (INCK);
(vi) Institut de recherche en propriété intellectuelle (IRPI); and
(vii) Society of American Archivists (SAA).
More information about each of the groups is available in the WIPO document listed above.
All were accepted with the exception of the Innovation Council of Kenya, which was said to have been founded in 2012 in Nairobi with the purpose to: “hold or promote innovation of any description authorized by law-calculated to increase and show innovation, research and education (in innovation) and general IP awareness.”
WIPO General Counsel Kwakwa said the admission of national NGOs to observer status is subject to consultations between member states and that the government of Kenya at this time was unable to give a favourable response to the application of the Innovation council of Kenya in the category of national NGO with observer status. A Kenyan official later told Intellectual Property Watch that the government simply did not have any information about the group and could not verify it.
New PBC Membership
The new members of the powerful Program and Budget Committee (PBC) were agreed in informal sessions. For the next two years (September 2013-September 2015) the PBC consists of: Algeria, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Hungary, India, Iran, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Morocco, Pakistan, Paraguay, Poland, South Korea, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, and Vietnam.
Catherine Saez contributed to this report.
William New may be reached at email@example.com.