WIPO Rekindles Patent Talks As Some Cry Foul 19/02/2005 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch 1 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 World Intellectual Property Organisation on Friday announced a recommended path for future work on harmonising patent laws around the world. The announcement came after a two-day informal consultation with WIPO Director General Kamil Idris and a group of mostly like-minded nations in Casablanca, Morocco. Idris stressed in a release that the talks ending Thursday positively addressed development issues raised by certain developing countries. “The Casablanca consultations … resulted in a boost for the whole work program of WIPO, particularly, substantive patent law, traditional knowledge, folklore and issues related to genetic resources and the proposed WIPO Development Agenda,” he said. “The constructive approach taken during the consultations will, I believe, go a long way in resolving outstanding issues in all these important areas and demonstrates a commitment to multilateralism,” he added. But several developing country officials on Friday were seething, charging privately that WIPO had overstepped its mandate for the consultations by working on substantive issues. They also alleged WIPO had used the venue as a way to sideline countries who have opposed a “trilateral” harmonisation proposal from Europe, Japan and the United States and who have rejected efforts to de-link talks on genetic resources from the substantive patent law treaty negotiations. WIPO officials could not be reached for comment at presstime. According to developing country sources, only one or two active opponents of the trilateral approach or cosponsors of the WIPO Development Agenda were invited to the consultation. Instead, most of the developing countries invited have been supportive or silent on the trilateral approach. Some observers speculated that the effect of the invitations was to “isolate” Brazil, a leading critic of the proposal. The consultation is technically non-binding. The consultation follows on the heels of an invite-only non-WIPO meeting this month of developed countries on the issue, hosted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (see IP-Watch, Feb. 12, 2005). A USPTO spokeswoman said Friday the two tracks are complementary. “The USPTO commends the efforts of WIPO Director General Kamil Idris in conducting these informal consultations on the future work program of WIPO,” she said. “We view the USPTO Exploratory Meeting, and future meetings as announced at that meeting, to be complementary to WIPO’s work program and hope that they will help facilitate progress on these important issues in WIPO.” Patent harmonisation negotiations have been stalled at WIPO as development issues are on the table, and the Geneva-based body has reportedly been under pressure from developed countries to move the talks forward under the threat of “marginalisation.” “Clearly, the [WIPO] international bureau and the developed countries are trying to bypass WIPO’s formal decision-making channels,” a developing country official said. “They have come to realize that when multilateral debate and decision-making is allowed to place in a more open, inclusive and transparent setting, such as the formal meetings in Geneva, they cannot get their way.” The meeting statement said delegates “strongly endorsed the importance of multilateralism, in particular, in WIPO.” But the official countered, “The nature of this meeting, including the manner in which it was organized, is completely at odds with the democratic essence and spirit of multilateralism. The developed countries, by working through the WIPO Secretariat in this unfortunate way, are making a mockery of multilateralism.” The statement, on which Brazil dissented, also said participants agreed to address six issues in an accelerated manner within WIPO: prior art, grace period, novelty, inventive step, sufficiency of disclosure and genetic resources. The first four issues (prior art, grace period, novelty and inventive step) will be addressed in the Standing Committee on Patents (SCP), and the other two issues (sufficiency of disclosure and genetic resources) in the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC). The first four issues are similar to those proposed by the “trilateral” of Europe, Japan and the United States last year, and rejected by developing countries at WIPO last fall, sources said. The group in Morocco recommended member states make proposals on the Development Agenda for discussion at the April 2005 “intersessional intergovernmental meeting” in Geneva. It also called for the next SCP meeting to be held in May, and the next IGC meeting in June, and that decisions be sent to the General Assembly in September. The statement also set as an objective to discuss development issues so that “a robust, effective and actionable WIPO Development Agenda could emerge.” According to WIPO, attendees included delegates from: Brazil, Chile, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Russian Federation, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States, African Regional Industrial Property Organization, Eurasian Patent Office, European Patent Office, African Intellectual Property Organization and the European Union. R.A. Mashelkar, Director General of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and Secretary of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research in India, chaired the consultations. 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 "WIPO Rekindles Patent Talks As Some Cry Foul" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.