WIPO Members Near Agreement To Negotiate Design Law Treaty 28/09/2013 by Alessandro Marongiu 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 this week have discussed the possibility of convening a diplomatic conference – a high-level negotiation – on a treaty on industrial design law. As of yesterday, members appeared near consensus to proceed to a diplomatic conference, according to sources. Meanwhile, the European Union made a presentation on how it is contributing to IP and development. An industrial design is the aesthetic aspect of an item. Current negotiations in the WIPO Standing Committee on the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications (SCT) aim at simplifying registration formalities for industrial designs through a binding international instrument. The annual WIPO General Assemblies are taking place from 23 September to 3 October. Developed countries this week were vocal in asking for the convening of a diplomatic conference to adopt the treaty in 2014 and emphasised the “political maturity” of the draft text and the benefits brought by the future instrument “to all members, irrespective of their level of development.” However, a number of developing countries expressed doubts on the desirability of convening a diplomatic conference, and asked to include an article in the draft text of the agreement to ensure technical assistance and capacity building to developing and least developed countries. In particular, the African Group underlined the “disparity between developed and developing countries in the number of design registrations” and stressed the importance of reducing registration fees for developing countries. Views were slightly mixed on the convening of a diplomatic conference among members of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries (GRULAC), with Ecuador and Guatemala raising questions. Chile argued that the design law treaty “doesn’t change substantive elements” of design law and the “degree of maturity [of the text] is considerable.” GRULAC members underlined the importance of solving the issue of technical assistance. Currently, there are three proposals on technical assistance under discussion at the SCT, one from the African Group, one from the European Union, and one from South Korea (IPW, WIPO, 30 May 2013). Russia has proposed to host the Design Law Treaty negotiations in Moscow. The decision to approve a diplomatic conference on a design law treaty has been tied this week by some developing countries to getting a commitment to proceed to a diplomatic conference in the 2014/2015 biennium on an international instrument or instruments on the protection of traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expressions and genetic resources. Last night, a tentative deal was reached on that issue (IPW, WIPO, 27 September 2013). Alongside the Assembly proceedings, the Italian government sponsored a show of Italian design and held a side event on industrial design. The event included opening remarks by Loredana Gulino, director general of the General Directorate for the Fight against Counterfeiting in the Italian Patent and Trademark Office, who spoke on the importance of IP protection for economy and society. Italian designers Alessandro Sarfatti and Valentina Downey described their companies’ process of design and protection. At the side event, Marcus Höpperger, director of the Law and Legislative Advice Division in the WIPO Brands and Design Sector, gave an update on policymaking activities. He said recent disputes involving large technology companies like Apple have brought additional attention to industrial design by policymakers. Design is moving apart from patents, he said, noting research by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The WIPO indicators report showed a dramatic rise of design in intellectual property, with a tripling of design applications from 2001 to 2010. He said the proposed Design Law Treaty would be similar to the Singapore Trademark Law Treaty of a few years ago, making it easier for industry to register (and non-controversial). Design, particularly good design, transcends intellectual property rights, he said. EU Pitches Its Approach to IP and Development Separately, in a side event to the Assemblies entitled, “Intellectual Property, Economics, and Development: the EU approach,” the European Union (EU) presented its intellectual policy framework. The event had a specific focus on intellectual property’s contribution to economic growth and development. Pierre Delsaux, deputy director general of the EU Internal Market and Services Directorate General, emphasised that intellectual property “helps creating jobs,” as supported by a forthcoming EU publication to be issued on Monday. The publication should clarify the contribution of IP-intensive industries to the European GDP and employment, he said. Inge Buffolo, from the EU Office of Harmonization for the Internal Market, presented an online tool allowing any internet user to search, free of charge, the trademarks of all participating official trademark offices. Buffolo stressed that the searchable trademarks from non-EU countries on the platform are expected to outpace EU searchable trademarks in the coming years. Kevin McCarthy from EuropeAid described various policies and activities undertaken by the EU to favour development through intellectual property, technology transfer and innovation. Among a number of different initiatives, McCarthy cited the EU “Policy Coherence for Development & IPR–Work Programme 2010-2013” as an important policy framework. This policy helps to preserve access to affordable medicines and ensure that balanced IPR provisions in bilateral agreements help developing countries to leverage the value of their intellectual creations. It also helps make better use of IPRs for development by promoting investment and innovation and facilitating intellectual property rights protection in the EU of export products from developing countries, he said. Additional information on the EU event can be found here. 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 Alessandro Marongiu may be reached at email@example.com."WIPO Members Near Agreement To Negotiate Design Law Treaty" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.