WIPO General Assemblies Close: External Offices, Composition Of Governing Bodies Pushed To 2019 03/10/2018 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment 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 annual World Intellectual Property Organization General Assemblies closed yesterday after 10 days of negotiations. Committee reports and audit and oversight reports were noted to the satisfaction of member states. The Assembly however had no choice yesterday but to push some off for another year to its next meeting in 2019. The composition of two governing bodies of the organisation, a potential treaty on industrial designs, and the location of new WIPO external offices are expected to be the subject of informal consultations until the next WIPO General Assembly. The governing body composition has bearing on the 2020 election of director general. WIPO General Assemblies The 58th WIPO General Assemblies took place from 24 September to 2 October. The summary report of the assemblies is here [pdf]. A weeklong consultation could not breach differences on the allocation of additional seats at the WIPO Coordination Committee, or on the composition of the WIPO Program and Budget Committee. The decision [pdf] taken by the General Assembly requests that Chair Ambassador Duong Chi Dung from Vietnam facilitate consultations so that the issue of additional seats on the Coordination Committee can be solved at the 2019 Assembly. The Coordination Committee holds the role of proposing the next director general. The second 6-year term of the current director general, Francis Gurry, ends in 2020. A separate story will follow with more information on the process of seats allocation in the Coordination Committee. The same fate awaited the question of the composition of the Program and Budget Committee (PBC). The General Assembly decided to ask the chair to undertake consultations on the composition of the PBC “taking into account, among other considerations, geographical representation, with the view to making a decision at the WIPO General Assembly at its fifty-first session in 2019.” Different Interpretation of Member Representation Additional seats became available at the WIPO Coordination Committee after new members joined the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, and joined the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. According to a General Assembly meeting document [pdf], the membership of the WIPO Coordination Committee consists of states drawn from the Executive Committee of the Paris Union, the Executive Committee of the Berne Union, and one-fourth of the states party to the Convention establishing WIPO. In addition, Switzerland is an ex officio member of the Coordination Committee. Some developing countries have argued for some time that the composition of the Coordination Committee does not reflect the geographical composition of WIPO and is unbalanced. The Asia and Pacific Group had tabled a proposal for this session of the General Assembly, but Indonesia, speaking for the group, said the group exhausted all flexibility during this week and preferred to declare a status quo, and pursue negotiations at the next General Assembly. Morocco, for the African Group, said the distribution of seats should reflect faithfully and proportionally WIPO membership. A number of countries also voiced support for a more geographically balanced composition of the Coordination Committee including China, Iran, India, Angola, South Africa, Pakistan, Egypt, Singapore, and South Korea. India remarked that since 2012, 12 of the 16 new members of the Paris and Berne Conventions were from the Asia and Pacific Group. Group B developed countries and the group of Central Europe and Baltic States (CEBS) do not interpret the reflection of WIPO membership in the same way. Lithuania for the CEBS group remarked on the absence of practice in the attribution of new seats at the Coordination Committee. The WIPO Convention provides no provision on how those seats should be attributed, she said. The Lithuanian delegate said geographical representation cannot be the only criteria to allocate the additional seats, but factors such as the number of treaties ratified should be taken into account. This point of view was echoed by Switzerland, on behalf of Group B, which added that the use of the registration system should also be taken into account. Design Law Treaty in Limbo Separately, no agreement could be reached during a week of informal discussions on whether a high-level negotiating meeting (diplomatic conference) should be convened to agree on the text of a treaty simplifying the international registration of industrial designs. The decision [pdf] adopted yesterday merely pushed the discussion on a diplomatic conference at the end of the first half of 2020 to the next General Assembly in 2019. This decision mirrors the one taken by the 2017 General Assembly. The text of the Design Law Treaty has been on hold since 2015. Two issues remain open. The first is the request by a number of developing countries to have a binding article on technical assistance in the body of the treaty. The second, introduced by the African Group, and supported by some developing countries, asks that the treaty has a disclosure requirement on the source of the industrial designs, such as traditional knowledge. Group B developed countries refrained from discussing the draft treaty text in the Standing Committee on the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Designs, and Geographical Indications (SCT), considering that the disclosure requirement stands outside of the scope of the treaty, and the discussion was left to the General Assembly. María Inés Rodríguez of Argentina was tasked with facilitating informal discussions during the General Assembly this year. Group B said she proposed some language during those discussions but delegations asked did not wish to discuss her proposal. Her non-paper suggested a paragraph on the content of an industrial design application with “an indication of any prior application or registration, or other information, of which the applicant is aware, that could have an effect on the eligibility for registration of the industrial design or for which there is a requirement of disclosure under the applicable law.” WIPO New External Offices: Deadlock Sudanese Ambassador Mustafa Osman Ismail Elamin, called on by the WIPO General Assembly chair to facilitate discussions on new WIPO external offices, declared defeat on 1 October, after a week of informal negotiations. Yesterday, after an afternoon of last-minute discussions, he confirmed the “impossible” task of finding a solution trying to reconcile 10 candidate countries into four new external offices, when none of those candidates were ready to withdraw. The decision [pdf] taken by the General Assembly reproduced the decision taken by the General Assembly in 2017. It requests the General Assembly Chair to continue consultations “with a view to making a recommendation to the 2019 General Assembly on opening up to four WIPO External Offices in the 2018/2019 biennium, including in Colombia.” Colombia was the designated candidate of the group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries (GRULAC), after all others in the region withdrew. The process of choosing which countries would host four new external offices has become highly political, as noted by a number of countries during the General Assembly. Elamin on 1 October proposed an informal secret vote of General Assembly members on the candidate external offices. This voting, he said, would have given him an understanding of what the General Assembly wants, and might have encouraged the candidates with the less votes to withdraw their candidacy. This was met with strong reluctance by member states, and the proposal was abandoned. Elamin yesterday proposed that the decision state that Colombia would open an external office in the 2018/2019 biennium, and discussions should continue for the three additional offices in the same biennium, until the 2010 General Assembly. Elamin said it was his preferred decision. Some candidates, however, opposed it, including South Korea, Iran, India, and the United Arab Emirates. The UAE also opposed the duplication of last year’s decision and proposed again a secret ballot voting for the 10 external offices candidates at the next session of the General Assembly in 2019, which was seconded by Bahrain and Egypt. South Korea suggested that external evaluators be designated to evaluate the 10 candidacies. After ultimate negotiations in the early evening, the UAE agreed to postpone their proposal until the General Assembly in 2019, according to Elamin. Pakistan vigorously opposed the idea of voting, adding that no blank check can be given to any countries. Voting would be opening a ‘Pandora’s box’, the Pakistani delegate said. Either delegates should vote on all issues or none, she said. Colombia encouraged countries in the same geographical group to elect a candidate each, following the example of GRULAC. 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 General Assemblies Close: External Offices, Composition Of Governing Bodies Pushed To 2019" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.