WIPO Patent Cooperation Committee To Proceed With Study With Constraints 12/05/2009 by Kaitlin Mara for 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)World Intellectual Property Organization members on Friday overcame anxiety about overreaching of the UN body and agreed to study the Patent Cooperation Treaty, including proposals aimed at improving the efficiency and implementation of the treaty, taking into account some members’ concerns. The WIPO Patent Cooperation Treaty Working Group met from 4-8 May. This was its last meeting before the annual PCT Assembly in September, which will be asked to approve the working group’s recommendations. Despite fears among some member states early in the week that proposals by the secretariat and the United States could lead to a back door to the harmonisation of national patent laws and loss of national sovereignty (IPW, WIPO, 4 May 2008), delegates appeared pleased with the results Friday. Negotiators “incorporated all the concerns of developing countries,” said a developing country official. A separate developing country official said the key message of the text was setting limits on the process, and added that all countries were concerned that reform of the PCT not “overstep” into harmonisation. The agreement allows WIPO “to go forward with a roadmap,” explained a source at WIPO, continuing to “do some things we’re already doing, [as well as] doing new things,” such as working to increase access for innovators working in independently or in small companies. The Agreed Text Negotiations were based on discussions of preliminary meeting documents, available here, and on several proposals received during the week from regional groups. The documents included a secretariat proposal on the future of the PCT (PCT/WG/2/3 [pdf]), aimed at increasing members’ implementation of the treaty. The final language from the week, contained in the chair’s summary report, makes explicit that PCT improvement should be done in such a way that contracting states retain freedom to interpret the conditions and do not have to engage in “substantive patent law harmonisation or harmonisation of national search and examination procedures” in the process of applying new conditions. The text contains guidelines for a process towards negotiating on an improved PCT, but largely stays away from substantive suggestions for changing the PCT itself. Members agreed to a new in-depth study that identifies and analyses existing problems and their causes, as well as possible solutions. The secretariat had proposed the elimination of duplication and unnecessary actions among offices responsible for the PCT, but member states asked for further definition and clarification of these terms. The chair’s summary is available here [pdf]. The final negotiated text is reflected in paragraphs 4 to 9. Also significant in the summary is a statement that improvement of the PCT “could be achieved… taking into account the recommendations contained in the WIPO Development Agenda.” Attention to the Development Agenda was part of the proposals of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries (GRULAC) as well as a group of so-called “like-minded” countries that included Egypt, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Africa and Sri Lanka, according to sources. Unofficial versions of these group proposals are available on the website of Knowledge Ecology International here (GRULAC) and here (like-minded countries). Also available is the Group B proposal here. A source said there had also been an African Group proposal. The importance of fee reductions, capacity building measures, and technical assistance also was highlighted in the chair’s summary text. In particular, there is a goal towards increasing access to the PCT for “independent inventors, small and medium sized enterprises and universities and research institutions.” “Natural persons” was added to this list at the request of Barbados during the final plenary session, in order to clarify “independent inventors,” which was considered an unclear term. An updated version to be submitted to the PCT General Assembly in September will read “independent inventors and/or natural persons.” Background The secretariat, at the request of members, pulled together elements of regional group proposals to create a draft text that was under negotiation on Friday. This original draft text is available here [doc], reproduced by Intellectual Property Watch. [Note: typing errors from original are reflected]. The consensus text produced at the end of the informal sessions was placed in the chair’s summary, which was then approved in the final plenary. The consensus text, with tracked-changes to show the difference between it and the earlier document, similarly reproduced by Intellectual Property Watch, is here [doc]. Separately, a US proposal to negotiate a new PCT, a “PCT II” [doc], did not gain much traction, according to sources, and was not included in the final proposal. The working group recommended that it meet one time between September 2009 to September 2010. William New contributed to this report. 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 Cooperation Committee To Proceed With Study With Constraints" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.