WIPO Development Agenda Meeting Starts Directly With Proposals12/06/2007 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch Leave a CommentShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (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)IP-Watch is a non-profit independent news service and depends on subscriptions. To access all of our content, please subscribe now. You may also offer additional support with your subscription, or donate.By William New with Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen A weeklong meeting on proposals to change the World Intellectual Property Organization mandate or practices toward development began almost immediately with a focus on substantive proposals, according to participating officials. But the more difficult ones are still to come.The 11-15 June meeting of the Provisional Committee on Proposals Related to a WIPO Development Agenda (PCDA) is discussing 71 proposals broken into six clusters, labelled A to F. The proposals in this meeting are referred to as Annex B. Annex A proposals were addressed in February.The first day of the meeting opened with agreement to proceed in a streamlined fashion as in the first PCDA this year, in February. Regional group coordinators are overseeing the assembling of proposals in each cluster, and most of the negotiating is taking place is small, closed-door meetings away from NGOs, industry and journalists.PCDA Chairman Trevor Clarke, the ambassador of Barbados, told Intellectual Property Watch that he hoped to get through the first two clusters by Tuesday. Preliminary agreement has been reached on most of the first cluster, which covers technical assistance and capacity building. Negotiators agreed to the following four items, pending final agreement later in the week:Cluster A, Annex B“1. To assist Member States to develop and improve national IP institutional capacity through further development of infrastructure and other facilities with a view to making national IP institutions more efficient and promote fair balance between IP protection and the public interest. This technical assistance should also be extended to sub-regional and regional organizations dealing with IP2. To assist Member States to strengthen national capacity for protection of domestic creations, innovations and inventions and to support development of national scientific and technological infrastructure, where appropriate, in accordance with WIPO’s mandate.3. To further mainstream development considerations into WIPO’s substantive and technical assistance activities and debates, in accordance with its mandate.4. WIPO’s legislative assistance shall be, inter alia, development-oriented and demand-driven, taking into account the priorities and the special needs of developing countries, especially LDCs [least-developed countries], as well as the different levels of development of Member States and activities should include time frames for completion.”Barbados, which is coordinating the Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries, said the four items reflected a non-paper of the 15-member Friends of Development who are driving this process (IPW, WIPO, 28 May 2007). They were softened to clarify that WIPO actions would be to assist and promote activities of its members, Barbados said.A fifth item, proposed by the African Group and drawn from cluster B, appeared to have been near agreement under cluster A, but at press time the text was not available. Officials said it addresses the provision of technical assistance by WIPO related to flexibilities in the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Members of Group B raised concerns that the proposed language referenced specific articles in TRIPS and specific issues such as patents and access to medicines. The latest version appears to broaden the references to treaties generally, but talks were ongoing.Cluster A (technical assistance and capacity building) is being coordinated by the Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries; cluster B (norm-setting, flexibilities, public policy and public domain), the African Group; cluster C (technology transfer, information and communication technology (ICT) and access to knowledge), Asian Group; cluster D (assessments, evaluation and impact studies), Central European and Baltic States; cluster E, Group B developed countries; cluster F (institutional matters including mandate and governance), the Group of Caucasian, Central Asian and Eastern European Countries.Officials said the cluster B discussions were expected to be more complex because of the focus on putting development issues into WIPO norm-setting.On cluster E, an early draft from Group B proposed:“Proposal to reinvigorate the PCIPD [Permanent Committee on Cooperation for Development Related to Intellectual Property.]WIPO Partnership Office: Consider the establishment within the WIPO International Bureau a Partnership Office staffed by WIPO personnel deployed for the purpose of evaluating requests by Member States for assistance related to IPR and development and providing assistance in finding partners to fund and execute such projects.To confirm WIPO’s member-driven nature as a United Nations system organisation. That would include, inter alia, that formal and informal meetings or consultations organised by the International Bureau upon request of the Members should be held primarily in Geneva, in a manner open and transparent to all Members.”This meeting reflects several years of negotiations on these proposals, and is now occurring chiefly among a small number of representatives from each group.Also on the first day, some sources said clarification was gained on a Colombian reservation against a proposal for the protection of the public domain from the February PCDA, clarifying that it would not reopen the much-hailed agreement on proposals from that meeting.Canadian Side Event; NGO StatementsSeparately, the government of Canada will hold a side event at WIPO on 13 June on IP and Competition. At the February PCDA, Canada mentioned that its Competition Bureau and Intellectual Property Office had commissioned a group of studies on the issue, which generated interest among WIPO members. The Competition Bureau will present on the studies and Canada’s approach to IP and competition.Non-governmental and industry groups made statements on the first and second days. The Electronic Frontier Foundation welcomed in its statement the proposals calling for independent impact assessments of WIPO’s technical assistance, pointing out that the WIPO in this programme is using “a model copyright law that currently has a number of deficiencies, such as not limiting legal protection for copyright owners’ technological protection measures to the scope of national copyright law, which was the key recommendation of a recent major review of the European Community’s 2001 Copyright Directive.”EFF also said that an independent assessment of the economic and social costs of implementing new obligations linked to a broadcasting treaty to be discussed at WIPO next week would be beneficial. It calls for a permanent committee of mechanism within WIPO to deal with these issues further. EFF also strongly supports a rich public domain. “WIPO can play a vital role in protecting the public domain against encroachment by overbroad IP norms and legal protection for rights-holders” technological measures, and facilitating access to, and efficient use of, orphaned copyrighted works,” it said.The International Federation of Library Associations urged negotiators to consider a “treaty on access to learning and knowledge which updates and rebalances the now 11 year old and somewhat aging WCT and WPPT.” The WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty, both from 1996, updated rights for content owners, producers and performers for the digital age.IFLA highlighted calls for “the rebalancing of copyright” in recent well-known studies in Europe, by the University of Amsterdam’s Institute of Information Law. Indeed the UK finance ministry’s own independently commissioned Gowers Review of Intellectual Property.The Library Copyright Alliance referred to a statement made by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates before the graduating class at Harvard University recently, that “humanity’s greatest advances are not in its discoveries – but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity,” according to the statement. “We believe that Mr. Gates’ statement captures much of the spirit of what libraries are all about, and we hope that this organisation will work to find appropriate ways to support libraries to eliminate the inequities that exist in the availability of information and the access to knowledge,” the alliance said.Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) said that among the most important proposals being discussed at this meeting is one that calls on WIPO to “do more empirical analysis of the actual and potential impacts of different intellectual property policies, practices and norm setting activities on development, as well as on innovation and global social welfare.” KEI also suggested WIPO “develop a serious capacity to respond to requests from member states for analysis,” highlighting transparency.KEI also said WIPO discussions should reflect the recent World Health Assembly at which a resolution was adopted which calls for considering new ways of research and development into medicines, including “addressing the linkage between paying for the cost of R&D and the prices.” KEI said this meeting also should include consideration of an R&D treaty.The Business Software Alliance said, “It is our experience in working with governments around the world … that effective intellectual property protection and technology neutral policies encourage innovation, investment, technology transfer, competitiveness and development.”The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations also made a statement, sources said.William New and Tove Gerhardsen may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Share this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (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 Development Agenda Meeting Starts Directly With Proposals" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.