WIPO Assembly To Wrap Up Early; Budget Issues Wait For December 26/09/2008 by William New, 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)By William New and Kaitlin Mara Member governments of the World Intellectual Property Organization completed their annual General Assemblies earlier than scheduled this year, but some of the most difficult decisions – such as the budget – will be addressed at a special session in December. Issues tackled in the final two days included the Development Agenda implementation, patent committee, domain name disputes, and the new building construction. And a separate subcommittee this week finalised the contract of new Director General Francis Gurry. The report of the working group on the conditions of the appointment of the new director general [pdf] was released on 26 September. The document calculates the monthly salary of Gurry, a WIPO veteran of more than two decades, during his term as director general and includes a draft contract for his service. The contract includes the promise to pay Gurry “an annual net salary equivalent to the highest salary payable to the head of a specialised agency of the United Nations which has its headquarters in Geneva” along with an “annual representation allowance” of CHF62,100, an “annual housing allowance” of CHF76,200, a pension and other benefits. His calculated monthly net salary of CHF23,412 put his annual net salary at CHF280,944, or about US$258,107, before the added allowances. This is a comparable contract to that held by his predecessor, Kamil Idris. On the overall WIPO budget, Gurry is expected to propose his programme for the year on 21 October, consult with members and then have it reviewed by the Program and Budget Committee on 11-12 December, followed by an exceptional General assemblies meeting on 12 October. This week’s Assemblies are expected to end on Monday, one day early. On Thursday, the Development Agenda report was approved, with several recommendations discussed this year out of the 45 adopted last year. But statements in the plenary meeting split generally south-north, with the developing nations appealing for the recommendations to be funded and followed ambitiously, and developed nations collectively urging others to be “mindful” of WIPO rules and procedures, including for the budgeting of recommendations. The Development Agenda was established with an eye toward ensuring inclusiveness and appropriateness of WIPO activities, and toward increasing participation in the global IP system. The Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP), which is overseeing implementation, urged the assembly to make sufficient resources available to “ensure speedy and robust implementation.” A key point is how much reach the committee has into the affairs of other committees. Developing countries view it as cross-cutting, with responsibilities related to a variety of committees and activities, while developed countries seem reluctant to see it so broadly. The assembly approved a donor conference to generate resources through trusts or voluntary funds for WIPO to assist least-developed countries, particularly in Africa, related to intellectual property. The assembly agreed on this language; “The General Assembly of WIPO took note of the information contained in the present document and decided, with a view to the convening of a donor conference in 2009, to approve the initiation of consultations in Geneva concerning the programme and other details of the conference, for the purpose of submitting the budgetary requirements to the next Program and Budget Committee.” Visions of a Development Agenda “As far as the African Group is concerned, the Development Agenda is the most significant initiative in WIPO,” Algerian Ambassador Idriss Jazaїry, coordinator of the African Group, told the plenary. “The Development Agenda has rightly raised genuine expectations in the developing countries and LDCs [least-developed countries], and we believe, in many developing countries as well,” he said. “These expectations should neither be dimmed nor diluted by protacted procedural methods or disagreements over allocation of resources. This would indeed be counterproductive and would impact negatively on the organisation. If this happens also confidence in the IP system could be undermined.” The Development Agenda “offers a unique opportunity to make IP truly a tool for social, cultural and economic development, and of the balance between public interest and the interests of the user communities,” Jazaїry added. “We believe IP should serve the whole of humanity and not just a privileged few or only the exclusive rights holders.” With the adoption of the 45 agenda items, he said, “we are poised to usher in a new era in the global application of IP in a just, democratic and balanced way which is the hope and aspiration of a large section of humanity.” Patent Committee Studies The report of the Standing Committee on Patents (SCP) was accepted, including a non-exhaustive list of issues identified by the committee for further elaboration and discussion. Comments will be taken on the list until the end of October and will be discussed at the next SCP meeting in early 2009. The SCP report also requires the secretariat to prepare preliminary, non-priority studies on four issues. Those are: dissemination of patent information (including creating a database on search and examination reports); exceptions from patentable subject matter and limitations to the rights (such as research exemptions and compulsory licences); patents and standards, and client-attorney privilege.” The committee also recommended the director general consider in the revised program and budget for 2009 a conference on issues relating to patents and health, environment, climate change and food security. Copyright Committee Back to Webcasting? A concern was raised about the decision on the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR). After a lengthy discussion, members agreed on this language: “The General Assembly is invited to: (i) take note of the current status of the work in the SCCR; (ii) request the secretariat to report to the General Assembly at its session in September 2009 on the deliberations of the SCCR on: (a) the protection of audiovisual performances; (b) the protection of the rights of broadcasting and cablecasting organisations; (c) limitations and exceptions to copyright and related rights protection; and (d) any other matter discussed in the SCCR.” But some concern arose around a successful US effort to remove the word “traditional” from in front of the reference to broadcasting and cablecasting. This act signalled to some a renewal of the US effort to get WIPO to negotiate on webcasting, which was a flashpoint in the years of tough negotiations over a proposed broadcasting treaty that failed last year. In another copyright-related development, WIPO announced Friday that China has notified WIPO that it has extended teh application of the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Phonograms and Performances Treaty (WPPT) – known as the “Internet Treaties” – to Hong Kong. Domain Name Disputes Rise New Director General Gurry reported on WIPO’s Arbitration and Mediation Center and that its sizeable increase in internet domain name dispute cases in 2007, and on its relation to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which also handles such disputes. WIPO reported that disputes involving country-code names such as .ch for Switzerland rose to 7 percent of the total in 2007. He also said it is unclear what impact there will be from the introduction of generic top-level domains by ICANN. The secretariat report on domain names was accepted without changes, but the United States dissociated itself with the WIPO suggestion that domains of international organisations would be defensible under the Uniform Dispute Resolution Procedures, the domain name dispute settlement procedures. PCT Union Tinkers Meanwhile, there were several items on the agenda for the Patent and Cooperation Treaty, including discussion of the report of the first session of the PCT working group that met in May of this year, and criteria for adding publication languages in the future. It was agreed to publish in Portuguese and Korean at the PCT meeting in November 2007, an agreement which will take effect in January 2009. On 26 September it was agreed that languages could be added to the treaty if at least one international searching authority accepts the language, at least 2.5 percent of annual patent first filings are in that language, and that adequate machine translation software is available so that applications can be added to free databases. The assembly accepted most PCT reports with little discussion, according to sources, but there was some concern involving eligibility criteria for reduction in fees. The current criteria allow for a 90 percent reduction in filing fees for persons residing in and naturals of a country that has a per capita income of less than US$3,000. But since this criterion was agreed in 1998, several countries have exceeded the per capita income requirement, partially due to development but also partly due to the normal process of inflation. Several suggestions for updating the eligibility criteria were proposed, including new economic indicators and size criteria – including not only size of the economy but also relative size of the country. The Barbados delegation made an intervention regarding the situation of small, high-income economies such as its own, according to several sources. Cost of living, said the representative, is high in Barbados, as is cost of production; therefore small, vulnerable economies should get the reduction. Singapore said that income and size have not yet been adequately discussed, and more time is needed, and Nigeria suggested the need for rigorous studies to determine the differing effects of size and income, said sources. Ultimately, said an official source, the issue was sent to the PCT working group for further consideration. New Building on Track for 2010 The CHF153 million (construction of a new office building begun in April is on track for completion in October 2010, WIPO told members this week. The site had been closed for several years after internal financial questions arose, leaving a large hole in the ground sprouting weeds in front of WIPO’s main entrance. An updated budget on the construction project will be presented to the WIPO Program and Budget 10-11 December and the special General Assemblies on 12 December. The new administrative building will be adjacent to the existing headquarters building (a landmark glass tower in the United Nations cluster) and will encompass a main floor lobby and 320-place cafeteria, five floors of offices and four underground levels. New Chairs Named On 25 September, nominations for the heads of several WIPO-related bodies were approved. Alberto Dumont, Argentina’s Ambassador in Geneva, will head the Coordination Committee, with Kyrgyztani Muktar Djumaliev as first vice-chair and Tunisian Mohamed Abderraouf Bdioui as second vice-chair. The Coordination Committee is the top member-state executive body at WIPO, and nominates top officials, such as the new deputies director general who will take office late next year. Djaballah Belkacemi of Algeria will chair the Berne Union Executive Committee, with Livia Puscaragiu of Romania as first vice-chair and Udo Fenchel of Germany as second vice-chair. Chairing the Paris Union Executive Committee is Ghana’s Grace Ama Issahaque, with first vice-chair Martha Irma Alarcón López of Colombia and second vice-chair Corlita Babb-Schaefer of Barbados. Christophe Guilhou of France will chair the Lisbon Union Assembly. There is still a question as to who will head the Program and Budget Committee, with Group B nominating France and another group nominating Romania, according to sources. Possible nominees for these groups are Guilhou of France and Doru-Romulus Costea, the Romanian ambassador in Geneva. The authors may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 Assembly To Wrap Up Early; Budget Issues Wait For December" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.