WIPO Development Committee Works On Projects; Broader Issues At Bay

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While the World Intellectual Property Organization committee on development is evaluating results and taking decisions on a number of development-related projects this week, discussions on more substantial matters reveal that member states do not share the same perception of the role of the committee.

Beyond development projects which gather interest from developed and developing countries, the latter would like the committee to get into more substantial, broader discussions on intellectual property and development, which is resisted by developed countries.

The 12th session of the WIPO Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP) is taking place from 18-21 November. To facilitate the adoption of the summary by the chair today, the WIPO secretariat has issued a number of draft conclusions on agenda items already discussed. Yesterday, a compilation [pdf] of those draft decisions was proposed to delegates to be discussed today.

According to the draft decisions, a number of progress reports were examined by the CDIP, and the committee agreed to revise timelines on a number of projects: Project on Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer; Common Challenges – Building Solutions; Project on Open Collaborative Projects and IP-Based Models; and Project on Strengthening and Development of the Audiovisual Sector in Burkina Faso and Certain African Countries.

The CDIP also considered a Manual on the Delivery of WIPO Technical Assistance [pdf]. The manual was elaborated with the help of an external consultant, according to WIPO, to answer the request by member states to produce a more comprehensive version of a first tentative version presented during an earlier session of the CDIP.

A number of countries said they were satisfied with the result of the manual. Some countries, such as India, requested that the manual be printed and circulated in the form of a handbook. Other countries, such as the United States, asked that in parallel, the electronic online version of the manual be regularly updated.

The non-governmental Third World Network (TWN) said the manual needs clarity and gives a very narrow approach to WIPO development-oriented assistance. The representative noted that the objectives of the manual, as described, proposed to promote intellectual property. The TWN representative said that as a UN specialised agency, WIPO should include obligations but also rights. The WIPO secretariat answered that the aim of the manual was not to go into the intricacies of the whole question of technical assistance but to provide a “simple manual to anybody in developing countries wanting to know what is available.”

The committee approved a pilot project [pdf] on Intellectual Property and Design Management for Business Development in Developing and Least Developed Countries (LDCs), which was proposed by South Korea.

Egypt proposed a pilot Development Agenda project on Intellectual Property and Tourism: Supporting Development Objectives and Preservation of Cultural Heritage [pdf]. Most delegations said the subject was interesting and should be discussed further. The project should be presented again at the next session of the CDIP in May 2014 and developed in the meantime in the form of a Development Agenda project document, which is a formal detailed presentation of projects.

Meanwhile WIPO delegates have been working on draft terms of reference for the Independent Review of the Implementation of the Development Agenda Recommendations. A first set of terms of reference [pdf] were submitted by the African Group and the Development Agenda Group at the last session of the CDIP from 13-17 May (IPW, WIPO, 18 May 2013).

Several drafting sessions were organised to try to find common language on those terms of reference. A draft document from 19 November [pdf] shows work on those terms of reference and the scope of the review, and includes contributions from different delegations. Some developing countries asked that the scope of the review includes an analysis of whether or not intellectual property as a tool for development is mainstreamed in all WIPO activities.

Coordination Mechanism

During the last WIPO General Assembly, a decision [pdf] was taken on CDIP related matters. The decision reads as follows:

“The WIPO General Assembly,

(i) recalls its 2007 decision on Establishing the Committee on Development and Intellectual Property, contained in document A/43/13, and its decision on the Coordination Mechanisms and Monitoring, Assessing and Reporting Modalities, contained in document WO/GA/39/7, and reaffirms its commitment to their full implementation;

(ii) reaffirms that all WIPO Committees stand on equal footing and report to the General Assemblies;

(iii) takes note of concerns expressed by some Member States on the implementation of the CDIP mandate and the implementation of the Coordination Mechanisms; and

(iv) requests the CDIP to discuss these two matters during its Twelfth and Thirteenth Sessions, report back and make recommendations on the two matters to the General Assembly in 2014”.

On 18 November, Egypt on behalf of the DAG submitted a proposal [pdf] for a CDIP new agenda item on intellectual property and development. A first proposal [pdf[ for a new agenda item on IP and development was already put forward by Brazil on behalf of the DAG during the 6th session of the CDIP in November 2010, meeting strong resistance from developed countries.

On 20 November, during the plenary session, the new proposal including four specific items for discussion under the proposed new agenda item, was against disallowed by developed countries.

The four proposed items are: discussions of the WIPO Seminar Series on the Economics of IP; innovative technical cooperation and capacity building in IP; WIPO’s contribution to the UN Millennium Development Goals; and an information on present and future work under the IP and global challenges programme (Programme 18 of 2014/2015 WIPO Program and Budget).

This agenda item answers to the third pillar of the CDIP according to its proponents. The third pillar as worded in the CDIP mandate reads: “discuss IP and development related issues as agreed by the committee, as well as those decided by the General Assembly.”

Group B (developed) countries said the document, delivered on the first day of the meeting, needed more consideration and could be discussed at the next session. Brazil, on behalf of the DAG, said that after six sessions of the CDIP, a decision needed to be made on this item.

Developed countries also repeated the position held for the last six sessions, that there was no need for an agenda item merely repeating the title of the committee. Moreover, they said, two of the proposed items for discussion had already been discussed by the CDIP. They also remained firm on the reporting on the WIPO Global Challenges division, which is satisfactory as it is, they said. For the moment, the WIPO Global Challenges division does not reporting to any specific WIPO committee, but is briefly discussed at the Program and Budget Committee (PBC).

Developing countries are of the view that this division is dealing with areas in which they have a high stake such as food security, health and climate change, and suggested at the PBC in September that the division report to a specific committee, such as the CDIP (IPW, WIPO, 13 September 2013).

The DAG proposal was supported by the African Group, the Asia and Pacific Group, and the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries. Brazil, on behalf of the DAG suggested that an ad-hoc agenda item on IP and development be added to the next session of the CDIP, but Group B said it saw no logic in having this ad-hoc agenda item.

Another issue raised was the request by developing countries that all WIPO committees report on the implementation of the development agenda recommendations. The PBC and the Committee on WIPO Standards (CWS) do not report on the Development Agenda recommendations in their activities. Developed countries said each WIPO committee should decide whether or not they are relevant committees for such reporting.


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

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