WIPO External Offices In High Demand As 18 Countries Offer Hosting 25/08/2016 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch 4 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)Hosting a regional or national office of the UN World Intellectual Property Organization seems to be a high prize for WIPO members, 18 of which have submitted hosting proposals to be considered at the WIPO Program and Budget Committee next week. Most of those 18 countries are developing nations and all sought to demonstrate their commitment to intellectual property rights and IPR protection, with some underlining the importance of considering level of development. According to regional press reports, Algeria and Nigeria have been selected by the African region to host the two African external offices. The 25th session of the WIPO Program and Budget Committee is meeting from 29 August to 2 September. It will be followed in late September by the annual WIPO General Assembly. WIPO opens an office in China. WIPO Director General Francis Gurry at center. The World Intellectual Property Organization is headquartered in Geneva. It also has external offices in Brazil, China, Japan, Russia, and Singapore. A number of other countries have requested to host such offices. The submissions by countries show that they view an office as a significant boost to their economies and to innovation capacity, as well as helping the country and region to participate in the IP system. The protection of IP rights is also seen as encouraging to foreign investor confidence. Press reports from Algeria and Nigeria, such as here and here, say that the two countries were agreed upon in an internal African region process earlier this month. A decision by the WIPO director general to quietly sign contracts to open offices in China and in Russia in 2014 came under fire as WIPO members demanded going forward that such openings be governed by strict principles and decided upon by the WIPO General Assembly (IPW, WIPO, 12 September 2013). At the last WIPO General Assembly (October 2015), member states agreed in extremis on guiding principles [pdf] (page 128) for the opening of new external offices, with the understanding that Africa would be given priority. An earlier draft [pdf] of the decision stated that two offices should be opened in Africa, one in the Latin American and Caribbean region, and one in Asia. Member states were invited to submit hosting proposals. The General Assembly decision stated that no more than three WIPO external offices should be opened per biennium for 2016/2017, and 2018/2019, subject to the approval by the WIPO General Assembly (IPW, WIPO, 15 October 2015). At the end of February, 26 member states had notified WIPO of their wish to host an external office in the 2016/2017 biennium, according to WIPO [pdf]: Algeria, Azerbaijan, Chile, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, India, Iran, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Panama, South Korea, Romania, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Tunisia, Turkey, and United Arab Emirates. As of the deadline of 29 March, 18 countries had submitted proposals [pdf] to host an external office in the 2016-2017 biennium: Algeria, Azerbaijan, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, India, Iran, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Panama, South Korea, Romania, Tunisia, and Turkey. The submissions, ranging from 3 to 40 pages, are a mix of demonstrations of commitment to the intellectual property rights system, the protection of those rights and their promotion, with some reflecting the need of taking into account levels of development. Also in the mix are tourist-like information, offers for free office space, and reassurance on security issues. According to the WIPO PBC meeting document [pdf], up until 29 February, “the Secretariat met separately with 11 delegations which had notified of their wish to host a WIPO External Office and provided assistance to them in line with the Guiding Principles. In keeping with the letter and spirit of the Guiding Principles, the Secretariat provided factual and technical assistance to these delegations on the issue of consistency with the Guiding Principles.” Algeria Algeria found it has a duty to host a WIPO external office, which would be located in Hydra, in the near southwest suburb of Algiers. IP protection, Algeria said it its submission, “is now fundamental to public policy, at a time when Algeria is fully committed to the transformation of its economy to make if efficient and based on knowledge, innovation and the mastery and transfer of technology.” “Algeria is convinced that its experience in policies for IP promotion, its know-how in the administration of IP management systems, its infrastructure, specifically its technology and the availability of human resources highly qualified in the latest information technology make Algiers the ideal location for one of the WIPO external offices. Azerbaijan Azerbaijan said the main aim of an external office located in the country would be to improve understanding and respect for IP, and increase awareness of IP. In particular the country said that the external office’s mandate would seek to raise awareness of civil society about the activities of WIPO and the overall international intellectual property system. Chile Chile has been notifying its interest in hosting a WIPO external office since 2009, the submission said, adding that if Chile’s request is not retained for the 2016/2017 biennium, it should be considered for the next biennium. Chile is one of the countries that have signed the greatest number of free trade agreements in recent years; 26 including the recently signed Trans-Pacific Partnership, which had had a “significant and positive impact on IP development in Chile,” the document said. “Chile firmly believes in the importance of an international IP system that promotes and protects innovation and entrepreneurship and generates benefits in terms of sustainable and balanced social, economic and cultural development,” the submission said. Chile also said that the country “has supported and advanced the position that, apart from promoting IP rights protection, measures should be taken to ensure that IP effectively becomes a tool that guarantees innovation and transfer of technology and knowledge. Hence, governments must implement policies that ensure respect for IP rights, and prevent abusive IP practices that create barriers to trade or limit access to knowledge and health.” Colombia “Colombia’s efforts to develop its IP policy have resulted in an improvement of good practices in this area, making it a regional leader, with some of its results being spread through south-south cooperation,” the Colombian submission said. In its 41-page submission, Colombia envisages creating an office in Bogota. Colombia through its external office would support and strengthen the international IP system through the implementation of strategies and activities which enhance the visibility and promotion of WIPO and its treaties, in order to achieve greater strength and effectiveness in the relations between WIPO and the Latin American community, enhancing the capacity of developing and disadvantaged countries in the region. Ecuador Ecuador said an external office in the country would provide ongoing support in the implementation of WIPO-administered global intellectual property systems. It would also strengthen the capacities of the national IP office in the implementation of WIPO-administered international IP systems, the submission said. Egypt Egypt finds it is well placed to host a WIPO external office “to serve countries of the African continent on a demand-driven needs basis and in accordance with their national levels of development.” The scope of work and mandate of this external office “should cover intellectual property and development, as per the WIPO Development Agenda recommendations, in particular in reversing the brain drain to brain gain.” El Salvador The location of a WIPO office in El Salvador would enhance cooperation among countries of the Central American region, the submission said, and serve as a link to other international agencies and/or IP offices in Central America, the Dominican Republic, and the Caribbean. India “The overall objective of India seeking to host an External office is to develop a balanced and effective international IP system that enables innovation and creativity for the benefit of India, WIPO as well as other relevant stakeholders.” India will soon come out with its National IP rights policy, the submission said, creating an innovation-conducive environment. India is already witnessing a spur in patents and trademarks filings, it said. The proposed external office could save substantial cost for WIPO for carrying out various capacity building activities, and would create a strong communications interface with local stakeholders more effectively than through occasional visits and missions, the submission said. Iran Iran said it shares language (Persian), culture and religion with its neighboring countries. Iran has promoted the public awareness of IP and developed a culture of respect of IP in Iran, the submission said. More than 90 years of experience in Iran for the registration and protection of IP and the prominent IP position that Iran holds in the region led to countries of the region to have a positive approach to the IP pool of expertise in Iran, it said. Kenya The elaborate Kenyan IP system is expected to facilitate optimal performance of the functions of the WIPO external office, the country said. Establishing a WIPO external office in Kenya would benefits the region, it said and would help create public awareness in IP, the development of national and institutional IP policies, and create jobs. “Kenya recognizes the IP system as an important tool for trade, incentive for investment and thus a catalyst for national growth….” and the country is actively involved in the formulation and implementation of regional and international policy on the IP system. Mexico The Mexico WIPO external office would support the work of WIPO in Latin America and the Caribbean, and improve coordination between WIPO and the countries of the region, the country said. It would also implement projects timely and efficiently to promote understanding, respect and strengthening of IP, it added. Morocco The external office of Morocco would serve as a WIPO relay office, the submission said, and would consolidate the establishment of an enabling environment for IP rights, and promote the use of IP to boost creativity and economic and social development. It would also lend value-added to WIPO, and contribute to the implementation of WIPO programmes to develop an IP culture, it said. Nigeria Nigeria has been expressing its wish to host a WIPO external office since 2009, according its submission. Nigeria external office would add value to efforts towards the evolution of the international normative framework of IP, enhance participation in global IP services, facilitate international cooperation on building respect for IP, and strengthen the interface between IP in relation to global policy issues in the country, as well as facilitate in the implementation of relevant Development Agenda Recommendations, it said. A WIPO external office in Nigeria “would also have the capacity to serve neighbouring African countries and beyond, if and when agreed.” Some capacity gaps to address would include raising awareness, understanding and respect for IP, facilitate broad dissemination of IP knowledge. promoting effective rights management, it argued. Panama “The location of a WIPO office in Panama is justified by the positive impact that this would have on the whole of Latin America,” according to the submission. The Panama external office could be used as a center for technical training in IP for countries of the region and would strengthen the regional culture of respect and use of IP, it said. The external office would also promote national innovation and IP strategies consistent with national goals and development plans. South Korea South Korea said hosting an external office would concur to meet the current demand for WIPO services and function as a regional base for launching further development projects. “This will enable us to share with less developed countries Korea’s experience with using IP to generate economic growth and transform itself from international aid recipient to international aid donor,” the submission said. “As a former recipient of foreign aid, Korea understands the hardships that less developed countries face in boosting economic growth and providing better lives for their citizens,” it said. Romania Romania is part of the Central European and Baltic States (CEBS) and has been expressing its wish to host an external office since 2010, the submission said. The Bucharest-based external office would also address the specificity of the region, namely the need to exploit the full potential of the IP system, and local priorities (use of IP by SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises], enforcement of IP rights, developing new and innovative multi-stakeholder partnerships, topic-based cooperation in the region in order to support sustainable development and the implementation of the 2030 Development Agenda etc.).” Tunisia According to Tunisia’s submission, the external regional office might be able to cooperate with African countries and with the Pan-African Intellectual Property Office, whose headquarters is to be located in Tunisia pursuant to an African Union decision in 2013; support development and capacity-building activities, and offer arbitration and mediation to various parties. Tunisia envisions the hiring of three staff members: one international staff member appointed by WIPO and two local staff members. Turkey Turkey is a European Union candidate and a bridge between west and east, said the submission. An external office in Turkey would have a regional dimension in particular for the close cultural and social ties with the countries in the region, it said. The external office would support and promote the WIPO’s global intellectual property systems, and deliver technical assistance and capacity building activities. Image Credits: WIPO 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."WIPO External Offices In High Demand As 18 Countries Offer Hosting" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.