Guide To This Week’s Annual WIPO General Assemblies 01/10/2017 by Catherine Saez, 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)The annual UN World Intellectual Property Organization General Assemblies kick off this week for ten days during which delegates will have to find consensus on the budget for the next biennium, 2018/2019. Also on the agenda is the potential renewal of, and a proposed work programme for, the committee on genetic resources and traditional knowledge. WIPO delegates will also decide if they want to convene a high-level final negotiation for a design law treaty, and provide guidance on the work of the WIPO committee on copyright. A decision on which countries should host the next WIPO field offices has also been left to the General Assembly. The WIPO General Assemblies are taking place from 2-11 October. The agenda is here WIPO headquarters, Geneva The WIPO Assemblies are composed of 21 assemblies, including those of the unions administered by WIPO. WIPO committees also report to the General Assembly on their activities and their decisions taken during the year. The main policy and decision making bodies of WIPO are the General Assembly and the Coordination Committee. WIPO has several standing committees: Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP); Standing Committee on the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications (SCT); Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR); and Committee on WIPO Standards (CWS). These are established by a decision of the General Assembly for a given purpose. The organisation also has permanent committees: Program and Budget Committee (PBC); Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP); Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC); and Advisory Committee on Enforcement (ACE). Program and Budget The General Assembly has to decide on the renewal [pdf] of the Program and Budget Committee members, which are elected every two years. According to the WIPO website, current PBC members are: Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia (2015/16), Congo, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia (2016/17),Ethiopia, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Iran, Italy, Japan, Latvia (2015/16), Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Poland, South Korea, Romania, Russia, Senegal, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland (ex officio), Tajikistan, Trinidad and Tobago (2016/17), Turkey, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States, Viet Nam, and Zimbabwe. This week, General Assembly members are expected to find agreement on the next biennium budget (2018/2019). During the last session of the Program and Budget Committee (PBC) just a few weeks ago (IPW, WIPO, 18 September 2017), PBC members could not agree on the budget, mainly about questions relating to how WIPO systems are financed. The United States has been challenging the reliance on the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) revenue of the other unions under WIPO, in particular since the 2015 adoption by a fraction of the WIPO membership of the Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement on Appellations of Origin and Geographical Indications. During the September session, informal discussions led by France and the US resulted in the countries tabling a paper [pdf] proposing language on several budget issues, addressing the US budget concerns. Some countries, such as Indonesia, and Costa Rica for the Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries, underlined that they had not been included in the discussions leading to this proposal, and said time is needed to explore the implications of the proposed language, which they said have broad implications for the organisation. IGC Mandate, Work Programme To be Found The mandate of the IGC can be renewed every two years. The current mandate ends in October and the General Assembly is expected to decide [pdf] on whether or not the mandate should be extended, and what the work programme should be. At the last session of the IGC in June (IPW, WIPO, 19 June 2017), the IGC Chair Ian Goss of Australia said “everybody” agrees on the importance of the subjects covered by the IGC and the need to continue discussions. On the substance, three main camps can be characterised: proponents of binding legal instrument(s) (treaties), such as the African Group and the Asia and Pacific Group; opponents of such instruments, such as the European Union and the United States; and countries seemingly open to considering binding instrument(s), such as Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand. The African Group submitted a proposal [pdf] for a work programme for the biennium 2018/2019. The proposal includes the convening of a diplomatic conference in the first quarter of 2019 on the protection of genetic resources, and the establishment of an Expert Intersessional Working Group composed of the IGC facilitators, five representatives from each WIPO regional group, two representatives from the European Union and two representatives of the Indigenous Caucus. SCCR Quest for Guidance on Future Work During the last session of the SCCR in May (IPW, WIPO, 9 May 2017), delegates could not agree on recommendations to the General Assembly. In the committee, discussions have focussed on a potential treaty to protect broadcasting organisations from signal piracy, and on potential limitations and exceptions to copyright for libraries and archives, education, research and persons with disabilities other than visual impairment. On exceptions and limitations, some countries are requesting a binding international instrument, such as a treaty, while other countries do not agree that this is necessary. Also on the plate of the SCCR are two relative newcomers: the issue pushed by the Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries (GRULAC) on copyright related to the digital environment and in particular the distribution of copyright revenue from online use of performers’ work; and the issue of resale right, introduced by Senegal and Congo. The General Assembly is expected [pdf] to offer guidance on the future work of the SCCR. SCT: Diplomatic Conference on Design Law Treaty? No discussions were carried out in the last session of the SCT in April (IPW, WIPO, 3 April 2017) on a potential design law treaty, in the making for several years. The draft treaty text has been deemed ready by some delegations for a high-level negotiating meeting (diplomatic conference), where the last pending issues are expected to be solved. Some other delegations think those issues have to be solved before the diplomatic conference. The two remaining issues are the possible inclusion of an article on technical assistance in the body of the treaty, and the inclusion of an article allowing countries which choose do to so, to require a disclosure of the traditional knowledge utilised or incorporated in the industrial design. The General Assembly is expected to decide [pdf] whether to convene a diplomatic conference for the adoption of a Design Law Treaty at the end of the first half of 2018 ” at a date and venue to be decided by a preparatory committee. No agreement was found on a potential work programme on geographical indications at the last session of the SCT with three proposals on the table: a proposal by the United States to prepare a current survey of existing national geographical indication regimes; a joint proposal by the Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Moldova, Romania, Spain and Switzerland, concerning the protection of geographical indications and country names in the domain name system, and a proposal by France on a study on the protection of geographical indications in national systems and a study on the protection of geographical indications in the domain name system. The General Assembly is expected to take note of the report [pdf] of the SCT. CDIP New Agenda Item Agreed, Coordination Mechanism Left The last CDIP meeting in May (IPW, WIPO, 20 May 2017) was hailed as the most positive in years and the General Assembly is expected to take note of the report [pdf] of the committee, essentially the summary by the CDIP chair. Also for the consideration of the General Assembly is a draft decision [pdf] which relates to two issues of dissension, one of which was solved at the May session. The remaining standing issue is whether all WIPO committees should report through the WIPO Development Agenda Coordination Mechanism to the General Assembly on their implementation of the Development Agenda Recommendations. Currently, the Program and Budget Committee and the Committee on WIPO Standards do not report to the mechanism. The draft decision endorses the agreement found in the May session to add a new agenda item to the CDIP agenda named IP and development. SCP Work Programme Agreed At its last session in July (IPW, WIPO, 6 July 2017), the SCP agreed on a work programme for its next session and the General Assembly is expected [pdf] to note the report of the committee. WIPO External Offices: Many Candidates WIPO external offices provide support services for WIPO-managed intellectual property protection systems related to patents, trademarks and industrial designs, according to WIPO. They also support arbitration and mediation, collective management, development and capacity building. WIPO currently has five external offices (Brazil, China, Japan, Russia, and Singapore). Algeria and Nigeria have been approved as well. After China and Russia were awarded an external office each by WIPO, member states demanded that principles be established and the choice of new external offices left for member states to decide. Guiding principles were adopted in 2015, and by summer 2016, 18 countries had declared their candidacy (IPW, WIPO, 25 August 2016), while up to three openings were available for the 2016/2017 biennium, and up to three more openings for the 2018/2019 biennium. Negotiations at the 2016 allowed a decision on Nigeria and Algeria for the 2016/2017 biennium. Despite informal discussions since then, no progress has been made on a way to designate who will fill the four spots still available (IPW, WIPO, 13 September 2017). Side Events A number of side events and exhibition have been organised for delegates: – Exhibition – ASEAN @ 50 – Intellectual Property, Innovation and Development (A/57 side event) Exhibition – Furthering Intellectual Property in Colombia (A/57 side event) Exhibition – Paraguay, an Economically Fertile Country (A/57 side event) Exhibition – Geographical Indications – Territorial Identities (A/57 side event) Exhibition – Follow Georgia (A/57 side event) Exhibition – Contemporary Mexican Design with a Vision towards the Future (A/57 side event) Panel discussion on Patent Information Initiative for Medicines (Pat-INFORMED) (A/57 side event) Panel discussion on IP Toolkit for Academic Institutions – Connecting Academic Research with Economy and Society (A/57 side event) Presentations and Discussions on The WIPO Development Agenda (A/57 side event) Presentation on WIPO-Australia Funds-in-Trust for Intellectual Property: Delivering Effective Capacity Building Programs (A/57 side event) Information session on WIPO External Offices (A/57 side event) Presentation on Green Innovations in the Russian Federation (A/57 side event) Panel discussion on Women, Innovation and Intellectual Property (A/57 side event) Leadership Workshop for Female Delegates on Empowering Women in Intellectual Property (A/57 side event) Image Credits: Catherine Saez 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."Guide To This Week’s Annual WIPO General Assemblies" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.