WIPO Assemblies 2010
September 20, 2010
In this Report to the 2010 Assemblies of the Member States of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), I would like to profile some of the achievements of the Organization over the last twelve months.
This is not intended to be a comprehensive progress report. For that, I would refer you to the Program Performance Report. Rather, it seeks to give a sense of the range and diversity of WIPO’s activities, and to highlight some of the results achieved this year.
Managing through the economic crisis
With some 90 percent of WIPO’s budget directly dependent on income generated from market-driven services, the global economic downturn was expected to hit WIPO harder than most of the other international organizations in Geneva. In 2009, international patent filings under the PCT fell by 4.5% compared to 2008, and international trademark registrations under the Madrid System by 16.4%, resulting in a decrease in the Organization’s revenue for the first time in our history. Rigorous financial management was necessary, thanks to which, despite the downturn, the Organization finished the 2008 2009 biennium with a modest surplus.
2010 has seen the beginnings of recovery. At this stage, we are expecting that PCT filings will rise by around 2.8% – a positive result, but one which would keep filings below the level that they reached in 2008. We expect Madrid registrations to rise by around 11%, bringing them nearer to the level of 2008. The much smaller Hague System is in a different position as it is still very much in the process of expanding its membership and user base. Consequently, the level of filings under the Hague System is rising significantly, with 2010 figures up by 36 percent to date on last year (still on a rather small base). The WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center is likewise experiencing its highest ever rates of use. However, it is the PCT on which WIPO’s budget remains most heavily dependent (generating, as it does, some 72 percent of the Organization’s income), and the overall projected revenues still remain below the level on which the 2010/11 budget was predicated. Tight fiscal discipline, therefore, has remained imperative. We continue to monitor the situation closely, and to share data with Member States on a quarterly basis through our Observatory page on the WIPO website.
The cloud of the economic downturn has not been devoid of flecks of silver in its lining. This has been a good year for WIPO’s construction project, where we have benefited from the exceptionally low interest rates in drawing down the loan for the construction of our new building. The new building is fully on track for completion on time and within budget. Staff costs account for 65% of WIPO’s regular budget expenditure. In order to reduce personnel expenditure in line with the reduced income projection for the 2010/2011 biennium, Member States approved in the September 2009 Coordination Committee a Voluntary Separation Program for staff. This has been very successful. Eighty-seven staff – from all categories – opted to take advantage of the special separation and early retirement terms, and departed from the Organization by the cut-off date of June 30, 2010.
In addition to the necessary reduction in the cost of the payroll, the Voluntary Separation Program created the space to enable the Organization to address some major management and operational concerns. First, 55 of the vacated posts have been earmarked for internal replacement, creating opportunities for valued long-serving personnel on rolling short-term contracts to compete for regular appointments. (Headcount reduction is achieved by not replacing any short-term personnel appointed to these posts through competition.) Secondly, 28 of the vacated posts have been re-profiled for external recruitment to meet significant gaps in the Organization’s skills-sets, including, for example, language skills to meet the changing geography of PCT use, and expertise in economics. The objective of improving geographical and gender balance in the Secretariat will also be taken fully into account in the selection of candidates with the necessary competences for these positions. In this regard, I shall continue the practice of
publishing staff statistics, every six months, so that Member States may monitor progress achieved on geographical and gender balance.
This year the Secretariat completed the broad restructuring of our programs and organizational structures in line with WIPO’s agreed Strategic Goals, and moved our Strategic Realignment Program (SRP) into its second phase. Some 20 initiatives, covering a range of administrative and management reforms, and each actively championed by a member of the Senior Management Team, are now being taken forward. These changes are driven by four shared values: Service Orientation; Working as One; Accountability for Results; and Environment, Social and Governance Responsibility. Our challenge now is to ensure that all our staff understand and promote the changes, and share in these organizational values.
Two SRP initiatives which I would like to highlight at this point are the Enterprise Resource Planning system (ERP), and the establishment of a comprehensive ethics and integrity framework. The procurement and asset management modules of the ERP have been successfully implemented, thereby enabling WIPO to be compliant with International Public Service Accounting Standards (IPSAS). We now hope to move forward, in a phased manner, with the remaining modules of the ERP, which should deliver great benefits to Member States in terms of transparency, accountability and the efficiency of the Secretariat. In line with the recommendations of the Joint Inspection Unit, we have also now established a WIPO Ethics Office and appointed a Chief Ethics Officer. The Ethics Office has begun an ambitious program of work that includes enhancement of financial disclosure for senior officials and the development of an ethics code for adoption.
Moving forward in the Committees
One of WIPO’s primary roles is to support the goal of a balanced evolution of the international normative framework for intellectual property, ensuring that the development of international intellectual property law keeps pace with the rapidly evolving global technological, geo-economic, social and cultural environment.
At last year’s Assemblies, I highlighted concerns about the lack of progress which had characterized many of WIPO’s Standing Committees. Many delegates had also voiced frustration at the time spent in unproductive Committee meetings. It is very encouraging, therefore, to be able to report on the positive atmospherics and forward movement achieved in most Committee meetings this year, as Member States have shown their readiness to embrace pragmatic solutions in the wider interest.
May 2010 saw a break-though in the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC), when Member States began text-based negotiations as part of a concerted effort to ensure that the IP system in the future, and for the first time, recognizes traditional knowledge (TK) and, thereby, addresses a more universal knowledge base. The negotiations of the IGC are now complemented by Intersessional Working Groups (IWGs), the first of which met in July and settled a draft text of 11 articles on traditional cultural expressions (TCEs) that will be considered by the IGC in December 2010. The WIPO Voluntary Fund for Accredited Local and Indigenous Communities, based on the generous support of Switzerland, Norway, the Swedish International Biodiversity Programme, France, South Africa and the Christensen Fund, funded 71 experts from developing countries and countries-in-transition, as well as four indigenous experts, to attend the IWG. Outside the IGC, there was continuing high demand for WIPO’s TK and TCE-related capacity-building activities, with activities underway in 2010 in countries including Argentina, Bulgaria, Indonesia, Guatemala and Tanzania, and new publications to assist museums, libraries and archives due for publication this year. Within the TK Division, WIPO established an ongoing position for an Indigenous IP Law Fellow, appointed on an annual competitive basis, and appointed the first Fellows, from Tanzania and Australia.
In related external developments, it is a pleasure for me to congratulate the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) on the adoption of a protocol on TK and TCEs in August 2010. The Swakopmund Protocol, inspired in part by the IGC’s texts, is the product of six years of negotiations among ARIPO Member States. WIPO will continue to support ARIPO in the implementation of the Swakopmund Protocol, as it is doing in relation to the Pacific Regional Framework in certain Pacific Island countries. WIPO has also been providing assistance in the development of a Caribbean Regional Framework.
Encouraging results were also delivered in the November 2009 and April 2010 meetings of one of our most active committees, the Committee on Development and IP (CDIP). Member States have now agreed on 17 Development Agenda projects (some of which are elaborated in other parts of this report). The CDIP also agreed on an important coordination mechanism with other WIPO bodies. Additionally, the Program and Budget Committee has recommended to these Assemblies a way to integrate development agenda projects into the regular budgeting process, an important step in the main-streaming of the Development Agenda.
In the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) in June 2010, four proposals on copyright limitations and exceptions, submitted by countries from Latin America, Africa, Europe and by the United States, demonstrated a shared desire among Member States to make a positive difference to facilitating access to copyright works for visually impaired persons. (It is estimated that only 5% of published works are currently made available in Braille or other accessible formats within a reasonable time of publication.) While negotiations in the SCCR on the protection of audiovisual performances and of broadcasting organizations remained slow, WIPO continued to facilitate national and regional seminars on the issues surrounding audiovisual performances and broadcasting rights. On broadcasting, the SCCR is considering a three-part study on “The Socio-Economic Impact of the Unauthorized Use of Signals”.
The Standing Committee on the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications (SCT), meeting in late June 2010, agreed to advance work on a possible treaty for industrial design formalities (analogous to the Singapore Treaty for trademarks). In addition, following ten successful years of operation of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), as well as many important developments relating to the use of trademarks on the Internet, the Committee agreed to consider new issues surrounding trademarks on the Internet.
At the level of technical Working Groups, the Singapore Treaty Working Group agreed to amend the regulations to deal with the representation of non-traditional marks (i.e. hologram, motion, color, position and sound marks). A proposal is now before the Assembly on the Singapore Treaty. The Madrid Working Group agreed that the Secretariat should investigate and make proposals for simplified trademark application procedures within the International Bureau. And the second meeting of the Lisbon Working Group accepted a number of recommendations leading to a more open system and legal framework.
In support of the Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP), the Secretariat has now produced studies in relation to all 20 non-exhaustive issues identified since the SCP re-initiated its work two years ago, including four new studies over the past 12 months relating to Client-Attorney Privilege, Dissemination of Patent Information, Transfer of Technology and Opposition Systems.
Maximizing the potential of the global IP services
The economic crisis is a powerful reminder that the global IP services run by WIPO are operating in a competitive environment. The more efficient, cost-effective and attractive we can make these services, the better the services are able to compete favorably with alternative routes for international filing.
In the case of the PCT, improving the functioning of the system will contribute to the dual challenges faced by IP offices around the world of reducing the backlogs of 4.2 million unprocessed patent applications, and of improving the quality of granted patents. The positive results of the June 2010 session of the PCT Working Group were significant in this respect. The Working Group agreed on a set of recommendations developed in the context of a road map for improving the functioning of the PCT system. Many of these recommendations, notably those relating to the quality of international search and preliminary examination reports, seek to build on the work already underway aimed at improving the ability of national and regional offices to search prior art from a wide range of sources and in a wide range of languages, and to share the results of those searches with other offices. The Working Group also commissioned a series of studies to assess how successful the PCT system has been in disseminating technical information, in facilitating access to technology, and in providing technical assistance for developing countries. These studies will include recommendations on ways to boost the PCT’s performance in these areas and will also explore the possibility of extra-budgetary funding arrangements to finance technical assistance projects.
Within the Secretariat, we continued our focused customer outreach to help inform our efforts to improve PCT service and enhance the attractiveness of the system. In response to the growing linguistic diversity of PCT users, we expanded the provision of certain training materials to make them available in all 10 PCT publication languages. These training materials include a PCT distance learning course, and online seminars – or webinars – to which national offices can connect and access information on recent changes and updates to the system. The PCT webinar in March this year had approximately 600 participants – eliminating high travel and conference costs, while making a valuable contribution to WIPO’s carbon neutrality objectives. This model has been replicated by webinars in other areas, such as Arbitration and Mediation, and Brands and Designs.
Users of the PCT system are increasingly using our electronic filing facilities, with some 80 percent of all applications now filed fully or partially in electronic form. In response to applicants’ demands, the International Bureau also now provides improved online services including: Online Document Upload of post-filing notifications in PDF format; a Digital Access Service, which allows applicants under the Paris Convention and the PCT to permit WIPO and six participating offices to access priority documents filed with one of those offices without requiring the applicant to provide further copies; a fully-searchable PCT Caselaw database; and an E-Payment system to replace transmission of paper based credit card details for PCT fees. An important new system for private file inspection by applicants online is under preparation and should be ready for launch in 2011.
Recognizing the increasing linguistic diversity of the prior art and the consequent limitation of national or regional search facilities, PCT applicants have for the past two years had the option of requesting supplementary international searches of prior art. Initially offered by only three searching authorities (Russian Federation, Sweden, and the Nordic Patent Institute), in 2010, Austria, the European Patent Office and Finland also began offering this service.
Externally, several Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) work-sharing initiatives are now in operation to reduce the backlog in unprocessed patent applications in offices around the world. In January 2010, the Offices of Japan and the United States and the European Patent Office announced a pilot PCT-PPH which fast-tracks patent examination procedures for PCT applications that have received a positive written opinion or preliminary examination report. Similar bilateral PPH arrangements commenced in June 2010 between the Republic of Korea and the United States. Just recently, the United Kingdom also introduced accelerated examination in the UK national phase if an international application has received a positive preliminary report on patentability.
In the Madrid System, there has been continued progress on streamlining the legal framework of the System, including by encouraging membership of the Madrid Protocol on the part of States party only to the Madrid Agreement and not the Protocol (of which there are now only two). Similarly, work has continued in 2010 towards streamlining the legal framework of the Hague System, through the freezing of the 1934 London Act of the Hague Agreement and promotion of the 1999 Geneva Act.
The choice of working languages for WIPO’s global IP services has a significant influence on their attractiveness to users. Spanish was added as a Hague System filing language in April 2010, so that both the Madrid and Hague Systems are now trilingual. The Secretariat conducted a study on the possible introduction of additional filing languages for the Madrid System, and a pilot project is now underway with offices from Portugal and the Russian Federation. A new database of indications for goods and services, currently under development, will be available in 10 languages. Separately, an MOU was signed with China aimed at substantially increasing use of the Madrid System in China through an extensive program of targeted training seminars in different locations over the next five years.
There has been a significant increase in electronic filings, with some 36% of Madrid filings (and 41% of documents overall), and 55% of Hague filings now effected electronically, thus increasing efficiency and reducing transaction costs. In addition, we have made steady progress on IT projects approved at the 2009 Assembly, such as the Madrid Filing Assistant, which will eventually enable complete electronic filing; the Madrid Portfolio Manager, to enable trademark holders to access and manage their portfolio of registrations; and the Madrid Electronic Alert, to monitor amendments to specified registrations by other parties.
The WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center, after 16 years of operations, now occupies a prominent position on the alternative dispute resolution landscape. The bulk of its work relates to domain names under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), but it also has an active practice in arbitration and mediation services in other areas of intellectual property. As the level of Internet connectivity increases around the world, WIPO has become the preferred dispute-resolution provider for 63 country code top level domains (ccTLDs). Disputes from ccTLDs now constitute 15 per cent of all domain name cases. In May 2010, the Arbitration and Mediation Center opened an external facility in Singapore, in a new multi-provider international arbitration resource. This Singapore presence positions WIPO to assist in resolving disputes arising from the growing volume of intellectual property contracting in the Asia-Pacific region.
Recognizing the need for rapid resolution of disputes in the film and media sectors, WIPO and industry experts developed the WIPO Mediation and Expedited Arbitration Rules for Film and Media, as well as special model contract clauses and submission agreements. In April 2010, WIPO entered a collaboration agreement with the Format Recognition and Protection Association to administer TV format-related disputes under the new rules.
In December 2009, paperless procedures were introduced for domain name cases filed under the UDRP (eUDRP) at WIPO, preceding mandatory worldwide adoption in March 2010. In addition to saving time and money, we estimate that this will save up to a million paper pages per year, taking another step towards a greener WIPO.
WIPO’s engagement with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and other domain name system stakeholders has continued to be productive. ICANN has welcomed WIPO’s input regarding the use of trademark criteria and the prevention of trademark abuse in application and post-application procedures for generic top level domain registries. This is particularly important as ICANN is poised to rapidly expand the number of generic top level domain registries from a number that has been relatively stable to one that brings potentially greater risk to right holders. WIPO’s input has been guided by principles adopted during the 2001 General Assembly. These principles will be re-opened for discussion in November 2010 by the Standing Committee on Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications.
Integrating the development dimension
In consonance with the aims of the WIPO Development Agenda, the development dimension is being systematically integrated into all areas of WIPO’s work. The past twelve months have seen the launch of a range of projects designed to transform the 45 Recommendations of the WIPO Development Agenda into operational reality. Progress in 2010 has been facilitated by the adoption of a thematic approach, where appropriate, under which projects are designed to address interrelated issues identified in different Development Agenda recommendations. A total of 17 dedicated Development Agenda projects, with an estimated cost of over CHF 19 million, have been approved to date by Member States in the CDIP, bringing the number of Development Agenda recommendations now under implementation in one form or another to 36.
The eight new projects approved by the CDIP since the 2009 Assemblies address Development Agenda recommendations relating to IP and the public domain; IP and competition policy; IP, information and communication technologies, the digital divide and access to knowledge; tools for access to patent information; enhancement of WIPO’s results-based management framework to support the monitoring and evaluation of development activities; product branding for business development in developing and least developed countries; capacity building in the use of appropriate technology-specific technical and scientific information as a solution for identified development challenges; and IP and socio-economic development. A further project on IP and technology transfer is pending approval. Project managers in the relevant substantive Divisions of the Organization have been assigned to lead each project, and the Development Agenda Coordination Division has created an internal database, known as the ‘DAshboard’, to provide a comprehensive overview of development work within different areas of the Organization.
Among the first deliverables under the Development Agenda, WIPO held a donor conference in Geneva in November 2009 to help educate the donor community on the role of IP in development and to encourage extra-budgetary support for IP-based country-led development projects. The conference focused on the themes of Aid for Trade; Science, Technology and Innovation for Development; and the Digital Divide.
The principle of greater integration has also underpinned the approach of WIPO’s regional bureaus in carrying out their wide-ranging capacity building and technical assistance programs. Increased emphasis has been placed this year on the Secretariat’s assistance to governments that wish to develop National IP and Innovation Strategies, within the wider framework of their national development policies and objectives. Such strategies offer the opportunity to better align IP policies and practices with the national economic context and priorities.
Demand has continued to rise from developing countries for assistance in building their national innovation infrastructure, and in reinforcing the capacity of their research institutions in the area of IP licensing and technology transfer. The regional bureaus of WIPO’s Development Sector have worked closely with the Global Infrastructure Sector this year to service the demand for assistance in setting up Technology Innovation Support Centers (TISCs). The establishment of TISCs is underway in Algeria, Ecuador, Morocco and Tunisia; six more TISCs are proposed following the signing of service level agreements in Bangladesh, Cuba, Egypt, Guatemala, Senegal and Viet Nam; and a further 10 requests are under examination. To contribute to innovation promotion and technology transfer within the framework of the Development Agenda, the Patent Sector delivered workshops focusing on practical skills relating to technology transfer, patent drafting and technology licensing to over 2,000 researchers and technology managers in the past 12 months, and will release this year an IP and technology transfer guide for universities and research institutions. Five technology transfer offices will also be launched in the Arab region, beginning from this November.
The demand for IP education has also continued to rise. Last year – and in the first six months of this year – the WIPO Academy enrolled a record number of applicants from 178 countries for its Distance Learning courses, and provided over 700 scholarships to IP Office staff. Many of these courses are now offered in multiple languages, thanks to recent initiatives driven by Member States. The completion rate for all courses has proved to be exceptionally high relative to general experience in the e-learning industry. The summer of 2010 also saw the highest number of WIPO summer schools ever – ten schools in ten countries, working with local experts from 16 partner institutions supported by WIPO staff. The Academy is also responsible for a Development Agenda project to establish ‘Start-Up’ National IP Academies in developing countries. The Secretariat has begun the project by conducting needs assessments in Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Peru, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago and Tunisia, and is in the process of consulting with national partners about the development of action plans and deployment of relevant infrastructure and services. The Global Network of Intellectual Property Academies, also coordinated by the WIPO Academy, held its annual symposium in August in the Republic of Korea.
WIPO continued to provide information and legislative advice on national laws and on the use of flexibilities within the patent system, both in respect of particular requests and more generally, such as through the document prepared for the CDIP on Patent Related Flexibilities in the Multilateral Legal Framework and their Legislative Implementation at the National and Regional Levels.
WIPO is dedicated to contributing to the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) by 2015. Were it not for the timing of these Assemblies, I would currently be joining other Executive Heads of UN Organizations in New York to contribute to the important MDG Summit. WIPO’s work towards this fundamental series of challenges is spearheaded by the Development Agenda Coordination Division and our work under the Global Issues and Global Infrastructure Sectors. An elaboration of WIPO’s contribution is contained in CDIP document CDIP/5/3.
The dissemination of knowledge runs through many of WIPO’s strategic objectives, not least those relating to the global IP services, communication and the building of global infrastructure. Still relatively young, the Secretariat’s Global Infrastructure Sector was established to take advantage of the tremendous advances in IT as a means of facilitating access to IP data and knowledge, and of assisting developing countries to share in its benefits for the purposes of innovation. The Sector leads a number of Development Agenda projects. The most recent to come to fruition is a new service, known under the acronym ASPI (Access to Specialized Patent Commercial Databases), launched during the Global Symposium for IP Authorities last week. ASPI offers value-added patent search tools to least developed and developing countries for free or minimal cost. It will complement the aRDi (Access to Research for Development and Information) online facility, which provides free or low cost access to a wealth of scientific and technical research as a stimulant for innovation, and which was among the first of the Development Agenda projects to deliver results last year. I take this opportunity to thank our partners in the publishing industry and commercial patent information providers for their generosity and assistance in establishing these services.
The annual Global Symposium of IP Authorities in September, which we had instituted last year, provided an excellent opportunity for IP Offices to share experiences and successful practices, and to explore the expansion of work-sharing possibilities. A pilot project will be underway next month for a common work-sharing platform for access to patent search and examination reports amongst the Vancouver group of Australia, Canada and the UK. Another platform covering patents and trademarks is being developed by a Latin American group of nine partners: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, and Uruguay, in association with the Inter-American Development Bank.
Recent enhancements to WIPO’s free, global patent information service, PATENTSCOPE®, offer IP Offices and users powerful tools, which are not available in any other international database. In the past year, the collections of national and regional patent information from nine IP Offices have been added to the PATENTSCOPE® database, thus more than doubling its size. As a result, the database now offers free access to the technological information contained in more than 3.7 million fully-searchable patent documents. We have also added this year a cross-lingual information retrieval system, which makes it possible to search titles and abstracts of patent documents in English, French, German, Japanese and Spanish. Ten more Offices have expressed interest in having their national collections digitized and included next year.
In the last year, we continued to deliver office automation and technical assistance to IP offices as part of our office modernization program, for which there is high demand. Some 71 countries have now been assisted under this program, and 48 offices are now using WIPO’s Industrial Property Automation System (IPAS) for trademark and/or patent application management. A separate area of the Organization provides collective management assistance on request. Some 13 countries are now using WIPO’s automated rights management system, WIPOCOS.
WIPO’s new program on Economic Studies, Statistics and Analysis, which is dedicated to furthering and sharing empirical research on the economics of intellectual property and its links to development, began delivering results in 2010. In the one year since the appointment of WIPO’s first ever Chief Economist, achievements have included the release of the World Intellectual Property Indicators, a flagship publication which provides a wealth of statistical analysis and comprehensive insights into worldwide trends in all the main areas of intellectual property. The 2010 edition includes specialized coverage of the impact of the financial crisis. Along with the PCT Yearly Review, the Annual Report on the Madrid System and the Annual Report on the Hague System, these publications provide a detailed overview of trends within the Organization’s global IP systems and in the external environment. Thanks to close collaboration with national offices, they are based on the world’s largest collection of statistical data on IP rights. WIPO also established this year a new seminar series on the Economics of Intellectual Property to promote open discourse between WIPO’s members and stakeholders, internationally recognized economists, and the interested public.
In May, at a conference co-organized with INPI Brazil, we launched a network of IP Office Economists, which will further contribute to the sharing of knowledge in this critical area. The Network will provide an opportunity for the centralization of approaches and economic studies in a future IP Economics web portal.
In September, the IP Advantage database was launched. Based on a proposal from Japan and endorsed by the CDIP under the Development Agenda framework, the database provides a gateway to share case studies which explore successful use of IP by inventors, creators, entrepreneurs and researchers from across the globe. Certain case studies also illustrate ways in which the IP system can support the development of solutions to the challenges of climate change, food security and public health.
Promoting openness and accessibility
Openness and inclusiveness, qualities which underpin the corporate image to which the Organization aspires, are among the qualities which WIPO’s new logo seeks to project. The new logo was launched on April 26, 2010, on World Intellectual Property Day, to mark WIPO’s 40th anniversary, and met with overwhelmingly positive feedback in messages from stakeholders and members of the public.
WIPO physically opened its doors to the public, when the first ever Open Day was held during the Geneva Weekend Internationale on June 5, 2010. The event, which aimed to offer the Geneva community an insight into what WIPO does, proved popular, with enthusiastic participation by staff, exhibits from Ecuador, South Africa and Switzerland and some 3,500 visitors.
Encouraging open, trusted communication between the Secretariat and Member States has remained one of the highest priorities for myself, as Director General, and for my Senior Management Team. At Ambassador level, we have sought to build on my cross regional working lunches by initiating this year periodic informal briefings on specific issues. We have also sought to ensure that informal information and consultation meetings at the expert level are systematically held on all substantive issues in order to support the work of the Committees. In addition, we have just initiated a new program of introductory WIPO orientation days, with the aim of helping new delegates in Geneva gain a fuller understanding of the range of WIPO’s services and activities outside the Committee meeting rooms.
Accessibility is a guiding principle, not only for how the Secretariat seeks to conduct its work, but for all the substantive programs of the Organization. There has been significant progress this year, for example, under the VIP Stakeholders’ Platform, a collaborative forum between representatives of the communities of visually impaired persons and of publishers, with the participation of other key stakeholders. The forum is exploring the technical and governance conditions necessary to facilitate the transfer of copyright works across borders. An important merger in 2010 brought the Global Accessible Library Project into the initiative to create an international trusted intermediaries network.
Using technological means to improve accessibility, the Secretariat trialed real-time captioning of proceedings in the June 2010 SCCR meeting, accessible via the WIPO website. This facility not only benefits hearing-impaired persons, but also provides a live, verbatim record of proceedings which can be followed from any location with a broadband connection. Also for the first time, the 2010 WIPO Assemblies will be publicly webcast, as we move towards routine webcasting of Committee meetings.
We continue to open new doors via the WIPO website. On June 1, 2010, we opened WIPO GOLD, a new portal which provides one-stop access to our unique IP data collections, covering new technologies, brands, designs, appellations of origin, State emblems, statistics, domain name dispute decisions, laws and treaties and more. The WIPO GOLD portal not only contributes to the Organization’s goal of becoming the world reference source for IP information and analysis, but ensures that the reference source is open and accessible to all.
The most recent addition to the portal is WIPO Lex, the product of a major endeavor to improve the functionality and coverage of WIPO’s collection of laws database (formerly CLEA). WIPO Lex offers full-text searching of national IP laws and multilateral IP treaties, including all those administered by WIPO, WTO and the UN. The coverage of national laws in 60 Member States is now complete, with substantial coverage for 100 further countries. This is the first time that the IP laws in a number of least developed countries and developing countries have been consolidated in a value-added online platform. WIPO Lex has been designed in accordance with the highest standards of Internet accessibility to facilitate searching at all connection speeds, as well as downstream access by the vision and mobility impaired.
A number of Member States have consistently drawn attention to the restricted availability of different language versions of WIPO official documents and publications and of interpretation of meetings, which can hinder accessibility for some countries. For this reason, the Secretariat took the step of presenting to the Program and Budget Committee in September a preliminary proposal for a WIPO language policy. The discussions showed that further work and creative approaches are needed in order to address the complex issues and produce a sustainable policy for the future.
Hand in hand with openness goes responsiveness. In order to increase the responsiveness of the multiple services which WIPO provides to our stakeholders, we have been working to improve the way the Secretariat handles the multiple enquiries – of every sort – which we receive each day. We are progressively rolling out dedicated customer service units in each area of the Organization, and a new central Customer Service Center will go live in October.
Addressing shared challenges
As a United Nations organization, WIPO is committed to the UN Secretary General’s drive to ‘deliver as one’ and to play our part as a constructive and active player within the UN System of Organizations and at the Chief Executives Board.
Following the appointment in May of a Director, the WIPO Division for Global Challenges is now fully operational. This new program aims to connect WIPO with the global policy challenges that are currently occupying the collective consciousness, focusing initially on the three major challenges of public health, food security, and climate change, and to explore IP-based solutions. Building on last year’s WIPO Conference on Intellectual Property and Public Policy Issues, we have over the last 12 months held issue-specific policy forums on Patenting Biotechnology, the Regulatory Framework of Test Data, IP and Competition Policy, and Pricing and Procurement of Medicines. The Division has also conducted policy studies, such as the recently completed empirical report on the role of intellectual property rights in the transfer of green technologies. We are currently working towards a conference on Innovation and Climate Change in early 2011.
WIPO has provided intellectual property advice to other UN agencies and programs, particularly the UNITAID Medicines Patent Pool Initiative, where we recently facilitated the exploration of options in negotiating access with the private sector, and the WHO initiative to establish an African Network for Drugs and Diagnostics Innovation.
In parallel, the Division has undertaken high-level meetings with the private sector to collaborate in the provision of practical platforms to Member States, particularly in the areas of stimulating new R&D for neglected tropical diseases and facilitating the diffusion of environmentally sound technologies. The aim is to launch these platforms to the public within the current biennium.
WIPO is in the process of finalizing contracts and terms of reference for delivery of six patent landscapes, including on specific HIV medicines with UNITAID; vaccine manufacturing with WHO; solar cooking and solar cooling; and adaptive technologies with FAO. In the meantime, the establishment of a Green Inventory, as part of the International Patent Classification System, has made it possible to easily locate environmentally sound technologies when searching patent information.
Building respect for intellectual property, in consonance with Development Agenda recommendation 45, is also a challenge shared by all Member States at all stages of economic development.
As requested in the last Advisory Committee on Enforcement, WIPO has commissioned substantive studies on counterfeiting and piracy for consideration at the next meeting. WIPO continues to assist Member States at their request to build their capacity in this area, and has again this year conducted extensive regional and sub-regional training sessions for judges, IP offices, customs authorities and other enforcement officials. WIPO will co-host the Sixth Global Congress on Combating Counterfeiting and Piracy, in conjunction with the French IP Office, INPI, in February 2011.
I should like to conclude by expressing my thanks to the staff for their dedication and hard work in a time of considerable change within the Organization, as well as to all Member States for their constructive engagement in working towards a balanced and effective agenda for the Organization. WIPO is a Member-driven Organization and the progress made in the past year reflects, therefore, the commitment of the Member States to the success of the Organization. I should like also to extend my own personal thanks to so many Ambassadors, heads of office and other representatives of member States who have given me so often and so generously their time and wise advice.