WIPO Development Committee Deepens Look At Technology Transfer, Coordination 19/11/2009 by Kaitlin Mara for 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)How to achieve effective technology transfer stirred up discussion this week at the World Intellectual Property Organization Committee on Development and IP (CDIP). Meanwhile, members are conducting informal negotiations to bridge differences over what kind of mechanism is needed to coordinate the Development Agenda as a whole. A group of ‘like-minded’ countries Tuesday presented a long list of comments on the secretariat-written technology transfer proposal, asking for approval to be delayed pending better definitions and more details. Others argued that the project should be adopted, with improvements to be made later. The CDIP is meeting from 16-20 November. Technology transfer is a vital part of the IP and development discussion, not only at WIPO but in other multilateral fora. During the meeting, Brazil called technology transfer a “core project” and South Africa said “we want to ensure when this is implemented, it’s implemented right,” according to a participant. The group of like-minded countries raised concerns that terms within the project proposal [pdf] are insufficiently defined. The countries within the like-minded group is not clearly defined, but includes at least Bolivia, Brazil, Burundi, Egypt, India, South Africa, and Yemen, sources said. For example, the proposal calls for a “new platform” for technology transfer and IP collaboration, but is vague about what it means. It also proposes the formation of an international expert forum on technology transfer and IP, but does not detail how and by whom the experts would be chosen, and what the terms of reference for the group would be, said a delegate from one of the like-minded countries. Even what ‘technology transfer’ means is not clearly defined, another told Intellectual Property Watch. The like-minded countries were also concerned that there were no action-oriented results in the project. But other countries were concerned about delaying implementation, especially as changes to the document could lead to further negotiations and further delays, according to several participants. These included developing countries such as Morocco, Nigeria and Senegal, who had asked for tentative approval of the project, with a note that improvements could be made later. Coordination Talks Go Informal Meanwhile, the big discussion predicted for the week – on how to build a coordination mechanism – has gone into a second round of closed-door, informal negotiations this evening. Informal talks exclude observers but are open to interested government parties. There are two main proposals relating to coordination (IPW, WIPO, 17 November 2009; 4 November 2009). Supporters of an Algeria, Brazil, Pakistan proposal – now also officially co-sponsored by India – said they have no disagreement with any part of a proposal from the Group B developed countries. It is “essential” and “core” said several supporters of the Algeria, Brazil, Pakistan and Indian proposal. But, they add, it is not enough. Supporting the proposal is a group of developing countries including Egypt, Indonesia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Zambia, sources said. The Group of Latin American and Caribbean States called it a “good basis” on which to base discussion, and particularly endorsed the idea of integrating a chapter on the Development Agenda into WIPO’s annual report to the UN. This group is not looking to change WIPO’s structure, Brazil told the plenary, according to participants. But there is a mandate from the WIPO General Assemblies to monitor and assess the work done on implementation. This, among other things, will require time to undertake the work, which the proposal says should happen in the form of special sessions of the CDIP. These special sessions would be planned back-to-back with regular CDIP sessions, one supporter told Intellectual Property Watch. The matter was discussed this morning during informals, but as of yet no solution has been reached to bridge the proposals of the two groups, sources said. Group B members have raised concerns about maintaining the “equal standing” of the CDIP with other WIPO committees. If the committee takes on a role where it is monitoring and evaluating the reports of other committees, then it might upset the current balance of committees within WIPO, they argue. They have also raised concerns about overburdening the bureaucratic process. The Group B position is also being supported by South Korea and Nigeria, according to meeting participants. WIPO and the United Nations One part of the Algeria, Brazil, Pakistan and India proposal which sources said caused both discussion and confusion during the meeting was a proposal to include a chapter on Development Agenda implementation in WIPO’s annual report to the UN. This annual report is a requirement of the 1974 treaty between WIPO and the UN, but not all member states were aware of it. France during the plenary session on 18 November asked why such a report would be sent, adding to the best of their knowledge there was no precedent of WIPO presenting a report to the UN general assembly, a source told Intellectual Property Watch. The same country asked a staff member of the legal counsel’s office at WIPO about this report today. The staff member answered: “At present, no. No such report is being made to the UN,” according to Gwen Hinze of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who was in the meeting. Carlos Mazal, senior counsellor at WIPO, told Intellectual Property Watch that WIPO does not prepare a special report for the United Nations, but that it does every year send the report of its General Assemblies. This, he said, fulfills its obligations. An analysis of the Development Agenda would have to go through the General Assemblies to be included in this report. [clarification: a WIPO spokesperson said the legal counsel staff member meant the UN General Assembly]. Technology Transfer The technology transfer project is now on hold until the next CDIP meeting in April, with a series of actions planned between now and then. By the end of December, the secretariat has said it will prepare a report of the discussion on technology transfer, and the like-minded country group will submit its comments in writing. Governments will then have the month of January to formulate and submit comments, sources said. The secretariat will then attempt to “do the impossible” and draft a proposal accommodating all members’ suggestions, said Director General Francis Gurry at the close of the session on 17 November, a participant told Intellectual Property Watch. This document will have the status of a “non-paper” and should be available by the end of February so it can be reviewed in advance of the April meeting, according to participants. The technology transfer issue is of serious concern to civil society groups participating in the meeting. The Center for International Environmental Law circulated a paper on the project, calling climate-related technologies an “ideal case-study.” Suggestions for WIPO in the report include creating a mechanism to ameliorate the “significant deficiency of empirical evidence” in critical areas related to technology and climate change. These areas include “which climate-related technologies are being transferred, over what alternatives,” and what relevant patents there are on both. The “new platform” on tech transfer and IP Coordination should also include copyright, said the CIEL paper, as it is “increasingly implicated in ‘green’ technologies.” The copyright division at WIPO was not listed in relation to tech transfer at a recent open forum on proposed Development Agenda projects, the CIEL paper says (IPW, WIPO, 15 October 2009). EFF also pulled out the importance of copyright. “The project does not seem to contemplate informal technology transfer via reverse engineering of software and hardware,” said Hinze in an opening statement. She suggested that efforts to identify IP strategies for technology transfer should look into national data on exceptions and limitations to copyright to allow for reverse engineering. The Third World Network cautioned against over-emphasis on patent information, proposals on which are “premised on the assumption that patent information will serve as a major boost to technology transfer by avoiding duplicative [research and development] and enabling technological leapfrogging over existing technology.” A separate project on developing tools for access to patent information [pdf] was approved this week. But this is not necessarily helpful in all developing countries, said the TWN statement, adding “the informative effects … must not be deemed a substitute for transfer of technology mechanisms through which entities of developing countries & LDCs actually gain access to proven and commercially viable technologies as well as associated know-how.” 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 Development Committee Deepens Look At Technology Transfer, Coordination" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.