Arduous Discussions At WIPO For New Country/Regional Offices, No Winners Yet 15/07/2017 by Catherine Saez, 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)Attracting a World Intellectual Property Organization external office appears to be a critical priority for a number of countries that have put forward their candidacy for four possible new openings. During the WIPO Program and Budget Committee this week, some of those candidates delivered presentations highlighting their most striking assets, such as bridging continents, region, and economic blocs. But discussions could not lead to the chosen winners this week. WIPO opens an office in China in 2014. WIPO Director General Francis Gurry at center. WIPO currently has five external offices: Rio de Janeiro, Beijing, Tokyo, Moscow, and Singapore. Discussions during the 26th session of the Program and Budget Committee (PBC) did not allow progress in the decision on which new external offices should be opened in the next two years. The decision is now expected to be pursued at the next session of the PBC from 11-15 September. According to WIPO, external offices (EOs) add “clear value, efficiency and effectiveness to program delivery and respond to the specific needs and priorities of the countries and regions they serve.” “The External Offices provide cost-effective support services in relation to the PCT [Patent Cooperation Treaty], Madrid [Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks], and Hague [Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs] systems; arbitration and mediation; collective management; and development and capacity building,” the WIPO webpage explains. After intense negotiations, last October the annual WIPO General Assembly reached a decision on some much-coveted offices (IPW, WIPO, 12 October 2016). At that time, the candidacies of Algeria and Nigeria, which were designated as candidate countries by the African Group (IPW, WIPO, 25 August 2017) were accepted. In 2015, the General Assembly agreed [pdf] on the number of external offices to be opened in the two next biennia (2016/2017 and 2018/2019), and on a set of “guiding principles” (page 5 of the decision) to help member states decide on which external office to open. The 2015 General Assembly decided that no more than three external offices should be opened in a biennium. There is thus one place left for the 2016/2017 biennium, and three places for the 2018/2019 biennium. A previous document alluded to two offices in Africa and one in Latin America, but the reference to Latin America later disappeared. The 2017 General Assembly (2-11 October) is asked to reach an agreement for one office to be opened in the 2016/2017 biennium, and three to be opened in the 2018/2019 biennium. As of the deadline of 28 March 2017, nine candidates had submitted proposals for an office in the 2018/2019 biennium: Azerbaijan, India, Iran, Oman, South Korea, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. As of the deadline of 2016, 18 countries had submitted proposals [pdf] (IPW, WIPO, 25 August 2016) (Algeria, Azerbaijan, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, India, Iran, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Panama, South Korea, Romania, Tunisia, and Turkey). Like the African Group last year who agreed on backing Algeria and Nigeria as the two candidates for the African continent, the Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries (GRULAC) had designated Colombia as its single candidate in 2016, and reiterated this choice this week. The WIPO General Assembly decided to grant the two African countries each a WIPO external office, but could not agree on a third candidate. No members of GRULAC or the African Group submitted a proposal for the 2018/2019 biennium. Full presentations of the proposals for the 2016/2017 biennium are here [pdf], and full presentations for the 2018/2019 biennium are here [pdf]. Oral Exam for Candidates On 13 July, a number of candidate countries presented a summary of their proposal. Colombia, said no Spanish-speaking country currently hosts a WIPO external office. Colombia’s proposal is technically sound and budgetary sustainable, said the Colombian delegate, adding that the country is centrally located in the Americas, and has become an attractive destination for foreign investment. Colombia is also a candidate country to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), he said. In its 2016 proposal [pdf] (Annex IV), Colombia explained that the country is a regional leader for IP. 2018/2019 Candidates The United Arab Emirates (UAE) underlined its exceptional connectivity, its political stability, robust economy, its multi-culturalism, and strategic location linking Asia and Africa. With over 120 accredited universities, many research and development centres and a strong legal framework, the UAE depicted itself as the ideal location for a WIPO office. The UAE, host to a number of international organisation offices, such as the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, UNICEF and the UN Environment Programme, has ratified all WIPO treaties, and facilitates the registration of patents, trademarks, and copyright, according to the UAE delegate. The UAE office would enable access to all WIPO services through an online portal, with information tailored to the needs and concerns of neighbouring states and the regions of the Middle East and Asia, he said. India also underlined the presence in its territory of many international organisation offices. The delegate noted the progress made by India in the Global Innovation Index, and remarked on the absence of a WIPO office in Central and Southern Asia. The Indian delegate stressed the level of existing relationship between WIPO and India, with for example, a joint WIPO/India action plan, including training. He also said India has a well-established legislative, administrative, and judicial framework, and follows its international obligations, such as compliance with the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). He further said that the country has make use of TRIPS flexibilities to maintain the fine balance between private rights and the public interest. Iran talked about a “huge gap” in WIPO EO network in West Asia, and said Iran is at the heart of the region. Iran’s patent office was established some 90 years ago, the Iran delegate said, and has a long history of registration and protection of IP rights. The country, he said, has made “impressive progress” in the field of IP. Iran’s EO would hold activities to help better understand and enforce the WIPO global IP system, he said. It would also help promote IP knowledge and provide for technical support. The WIPO EO in Iran would play an important role in the development of a balanced and effective international IP system, and would serve the region through cooperation activities with neighbouring countries. Oman talked about its national innovation strategy objectives, such as increasing business promotion institutions producing goods and services with added value, ensuring an economic revenue from research and development through knowledge transfer, and raising awareness on IP culture and its importance in achieving sustainable development. The Oman delegate said the country seeks to develop the IP department of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Among the means to achieve this goal the delegate mentioned is an increase in human resources qualified in IP to foster an effective IP system. Oman’s proposal to host a WIPO external office is “a confirmation of its intention to realise WIPO strategic goals and contribute in developing and modernising new IP tools and models based on cooperation programmes with WIPO and create a link between national innovation strategy and the achievements of the SDGs.” South Korea presented itself as a bridge between the developed and the developing world. Asia is leading in global innovation the South Korea delegate said, with over 40 percent of all Patent Cooperation Treaty applications coming from that part of the world. South Korea is an “IP powerhouse,” he said, and the country has developed various global IP education contents as well as provided global IP training courses. A WIPO office in South Korea would spur an increase in demand for patents, trademarks, and industrial design applications, he added. It is time to share South Korea’s national experience with development, he concluded. Romania chose to present the attractiveness of the country for a WIPO office through a video presentation of Bucharest and testimonials of a representative of the gaming industry, entrepreneurs, a musician, an actress, a researcher and a rector from university. All testified to the importance of intellectual property, and the fight against piracy. Turkey presented the progress achieved in the area of IP. The Turkish delegate underlined the progress of the country in PCT applications, and mentioned that Turkey holds the 9th place in efficiency ratio in the Global Innovation Index 2017. The delegate said Turkey hosts 14 UN resident agencies and has 28 active memoranda of understanding with different IP offices, mainly for cooperation purposes. A WIPO office in Turkey would spread IP knowledge in a most cost effective way, not only in Turkey but also the Middle East and the Balkans. He added that Turkey has the most active IP office in its geographical region, and has a substantial experience in IP-related cooperation, both nationally and internationally. Image Credits: WIPO 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 Catherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com."Arduous Discussions At WIPO For New Country/Regional Offices, No Winners Yet" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.