First Committee On WIPO Standards Ends In Vote For Suspension 01/11/2010 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)Disagreement over the mandate of a newly-formed World Intellectual Property Organization committee resulted in a vote to suspend the meeting with no conclusions last Friday evening. The new Committee on WIPO Standards met for the first time from 25-29 October, but was unable to agree on two agenda items related to the continuing implementation of the WIPO Development Agenda. Developing countries supporting a strong implementation plan for the Development Agenda initiated a successful vote to suspend the meeting. The committee was “expected to discuss new standards to facilitate the exchange and dissemination of intellectual property data, which are increasingly made available on the internet,” said Yo Takagi, assistant director general of the WIPO Global Infrastructure Sector. This exercise was intended to “continue to narrow the knowledge gap,” which is a matter not only of technology but also socio-economics, he told Intellectual Property Watch. “Many delegates appear to be satisfied with progress made on substantive issues.” The draft summary by the chair of the committee’s decisions – which will not be sent to the assembly, as it disbanded – indicates that substantive discussions were held on several substantive issues, such as a proposal for the preparation of a new WIPO standard for presenting nucleotide and amino acid sequence listing, and on progress in developing other WIPO standards. The committee chair’s summary is available here [pdf]. Other Standards Committee documents are available here. Sweden was chair of the committee meeting, with Japan and Ukraine as vice-chairs. The committee grew out of the Standards and Documentation Working Group that was a part of the Standing Committee on Information Technology. At the 2009 decision-making WIPO General Assemblies, the creation of the CWS was proposed with the mandate to “continue to work on the revision and development of WIPO standards relating to intellectual property information.” Argentina suggested the mandate also include “implementation of WIPO standards, the provision of technical advice and assistance for capacity building, the support of IP offices in undertaking projects regarding dissemination of IP information and the provision of IP services to” small and medium-sized enterprises. “The  General Assembly approved the proposal… as amended by the Delegation of Argentina in respect of the creation and the mandate of the CWS,” said the documentation from the assembly. But in the proposed rules of procedure [pdf] for last week’s meeting, the suggestion of Argentina is referenced as follows: “Furthermore, according to the General Assembly’s report… one delegation suggested that the mandate of the CWS should also include follow-up of the implementation of WIPO Standards, the provision of technical advice and assistance for capacity building, the support of IP Offices in undertaking projects regarding dissemination of IP information and the provision of IP services to SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises].” A developing country participant argued that this should not be referred to as a “furthermore” suggestion by one country as it was approved as an “integral part of the mandate.” The Group B of developed countries had their doubts, saying that those issues “may not fully correspond to the expertise of the committee,” a developed country delegate told Intellectual Property Watch. Group B wanted to send a question to the 2011 General Assembly to clarify and reconfirm that this part of the mandate it is meant to be there. But, the delegate emphasised “no delegate of Group B put into question the decision of the Assembly,” they just wanted clarification. Agreement on this issue could not be achieved in informal sessions throughout the week. As the meeting neared its end, Canada put forward a compromise proposal – available here available here – that would have changed the rules and procedure document’s language to match the 2009 General Assembly document. The proposal was supported by developing countries and developed countries alike, a developing country meeting participant told Intellectual Property Watch. The proposal reflected in a way some of the views of Development Agenda Group – countries calling for strong Development Agenda implementation – as it reinforced that the 2009 Assembly mandate was clear, the developing country delegate said. But France, Switzerland and the United States continued to ask that the mandate be clarified by the 2011 Assembly, the developing country delegate said. The next meeting of the Standards Committee is not scheduled until after the Assemblies, so it is better to have their advice, a developed country source said. The annual WIPO Assembly are held in September. But if the mandate of the committee is in question, then its creation – which happened in tandem with the mandate – should also be in question, the Development Agenda Group said in the meeting, according to participants. Therefore the meeting should be suspended, they said. In an unusual move for WIPO, which normally makes decisions by consensus, the committee went to a vote on this issue. Eleven members – all developing countries – voted in favour to suspend, 1 against, and 22 abstained. It was “unfortunate in the end,” said one developing country as they were “just trying to implement what the Assembly approved.” Development Agenda Reporting Less discussed but also contentious was a related issue as to whether to include an item on the agenda to report to the 2011 Assembly on the Standards Committee’s work related to development. But this was as much a question of precedent-setting as anything. During the 2010 General Assembly, a coordination mechanism for Development Agenda implementation was adopted requiring all relevant WIPO committees to report to the General Assembly on their development-related work. Developing country advocates believe that all WIPO committees are relevant – and originally favoured language requiring all to report, but developed countries do not necessarily agree. The first meeting after the 2010 Assembly – the Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (IPW, WIPO, 16 October 2010) – had the item added to its agenda, but only after lengthy debate. “At least at this stage it is unclear” if the CWS constitutes a “relevant” committee, said a developed country delegate. It depends on the work year to year, and the item should not be put on the agenda of each committee as a matter of principle, the delegate said. Whether or not the committee is relevant may depend on whether the mandate remains as amended by Argentina to include technical assistance and capacity building. The Group B does not want to have issues of development in all committees; they want some to be technical, said a developing country delegate. But technical assistance and capacity building is necessary for some developing countries to participate, the delegate said. 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."First Committee On WIPO Standards Ends In Vote For Suspension" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.