WIPO Patent Committee To Consider Four New Reports, Global Challenges 20/03/2009 by Kaitlin Mara for Intellectual Property Watch 3 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)The committee on patents at the World Intellectual Property Organization is set to be re-energised next week as it tackles four new reports, and addresses an ongoing question of the relationship of patent rights to wider policy issues on climate change and other environmental issues, public health, and food security. The WIPO Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP) meets from 23 to 27 March. Its last formal meeting was in June of 2008, when the committee reconvened after a two-year hiatus following a breakdown in discussions during an informal meeting in 2006 over harmonisation of patent laws. The committee is still seen to be in a re-launch process, with discussions for the moment focussed on technical issues. “The way [the SCP] does its work is quite important,” said a Brazilian delegate, as this is “a gradual resumption of the committee work” and it is not “agreed to talk on patent harmonisation.” “Patience,” said a separate source, is key, adding a preference to “not rush” and “to have a technical discussion,” as the committee is still in a phase of restarting after a stalemate. During the June meeting, member states asked the WIPO secretariat to prepare reports on four issues “not to be considered prioritised over the other issues” for this meeting. The four issues are: dissemination of patent information [pdf] (including the possible establishment of an online database for such information); exceptions to patentable subject matter and limitations on patent rights [pdf]; patents and standards [pdf]; and attorney-client privilege [pdf]. Committee Vice Chair Bucura Ionescu of Romania said the exclusions from patentable subject matter and exceptions and limitations are “very likely to be more intensely discussed” during the week. She also said she favours concentration of constructive debates on “future work of the SCP towards the progress of a harmonisation of the patent law and the promotion of innovation in the various countries of the world.” Several other issues from a report on the international patent system [pdf] prepared for the June meeting that remain to be discussed are contained in an annex to the chair’s text from June 2008 [pdf]. These issues include such matters as alternative models for innovation, disclosure, exemptions for research and compulsory licenses, harmonisation of patentability requirements, and the relationship between the patent system and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. Global Challenges Likely To Arise The committee also asked WIPO for a conference on “issues relating to the implications, including public policy implications, of patents on certain areas of public policy, such as health, the environment, climate change or food security.” This conference will be held in Geneva on 13 and 14 July. The relation of patents to other policy issues is seen as having particular importance, though it is not on the official agenda for the SCP meeting next week [pdf]. Global challenges are important to members because they tie into the WIPO Development Agenda [pdf]. Developing countries are firm in the stance approved by the full membership that the development dimension of intellectual property law is a cross-cutting issue that must be addressed in all of the UN agency’s work, a stance which WIPO acknowledges in its introduction to the agenda. The SCP “needs to resume conversation on this conference,” said a Brazilian official, as it has a “direct link” to the development agenda. The official added that there should be an outline on how the plans for the conference should be proceeding and that member states “need to indicate names of speakers.” The conference was the “SCP’s mandate,” said a representative from the “Group B” of developed countries. The “scope has since been widened,” but there is “only an indication, [we] don’t have a programme.” Group B will agree to discuss the issue if time permits, the delegate said. But New Reports Remain Key Focus However, the group B delegate said, the likely focus of the meeting will be the four new reports, especially on those with economic impact. The issue of client-attorney privilege is of particular important to industry, said two separate sources. Exceptions and limitations, said a source, is similar to a discussion taking place in another WIPO committee, the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights. Several sources also said that China has a particular interest in standards, though the Chinese mission in Geneva could not confirm as of press time. Standards are a highly technical issue, for the most part centred on information and communication technology. IP issues enter into the mix, for example, when the holder of a patent of a technical standard is unwilling to licence the standard at an acceptable cost, or when there are several patents with different owners associated with a particular standard, creating coordination problems. Standards, in principle, should be open, said the Brazilian delegate, as problems in “inter-operability could be a hurdle for development.” The Group B delegate said that the SCP discussion must be seen in the broader context of progress on the normative programme at WIPO. There are expected to be side events during the weeklong committee meeting. For instance, Knowledge Ecology International will host an event on patents and standards on 23 March. And on 27 March, the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) will hold a “Dialogue on Climate Change, Transfer of Technology, and Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs): The Challenge of Evidence based Policy.” 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 Kaitlin Mara may be reached at email@example.com."WIPO Patent Committee To Consider Four New Reports, Global Challenges" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.