Accession of the Least Developed Countries to the WIPO Convention and Conventions Administered by WIPO

Intellectual property involves economics, law, international relations, culture, health, human rights, politics, and ethics. In the past, the focus of attention of intellectual property has been the patent system established to protect, in an exclusive manner, inventions related to a product or process in a particular field of technology, and copyright traditionally related to the world of arts and ideas that were not the focus of major studies or controversy.

Intellectual property will no longer be perceived as a distinct or self-contained domain, but rather as an important and effective policy instrument that would be relevant in a wide range of issues in social and economic development. In the era of the knowledge-based economy and knowledge-based society, many LDC see accession to the WIPO Convention and conventions administered by WIPO as a key element in the pursuit of national development objectives. WIPO’s LDCs Program aims to assist them in achieving that goal.

LDCs membership of WIPO Convention and selected conventions

The graph above shows the LDCs membership of the WIPO Convention and Conventions administered by WIPO. Out of the fifty LDCs fourty five have acceded to the WIPO Convention. Further disaggregation of the regional membership shows that thirty five of the fourty five are from Africa accounting for seventy eight per cent of the LDCs acceded to the WIPO Convention. Only nine LDCs from the Asian and Pacific region, accounting for twenty per cent of the LDCs have acceded to the WIPO Convention. Five LDCs accounting for ten per cent of the total number of LDCs are not yet members of WIPO (all five of them are from Asia and the Pacific region).

Twenty nine of the 50 LDCs have acceded to the Berne Convention, and thirty five of them to the Paris Convention. While five Asian LDCs have acceded to the Paris Convention, only Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal have acceded to the Berne Convention. On the other hand twenty nine African LDCs have acceded to the Paris Convention and twenty five of them to the Berne Convention. While there are twenty four LDCs that are parties to the Patent Cooperation Treaty, all of them are from Africa. None of the Asia and Pacific LDCs or Latin American and Caribbean LDC are members of the PCT. Haiti being the only LDC in Latin America and the Caribbean has acceded to the Paris and Berne Conventions. Six of the LDCs, five from Africa and one from Asia and the Pacific, have acceded to the Madrid System on Trademarks.

The Program for LDCs broadens the Organisation's approach to assist LDCs by interacting with new partners such as policy makers and government officials of various ministries, non-governmental organisations and the civil society to establish and modernise intellectual property systems, consistent with national objectives and requirements. It coordinates efforts to overcome the developmental problems faced by LDCs in close cooperation with United Nations organisations and organs and regional intellectual property organisations.

Promoting and strengthening the intellectual property system could not be achieved by focusing only on the development of norms and rules and establishing enforcement mechanisms. Certain non-legal factors impeding acceptance of intellectual property systems in the socio-economic development of the LDCs need to be addressed systematically by WIPO if the LDCs are to benefit. The program takes into account this concern of LDCs by focusing on the use of patent information for growth and development, technology licensing, use of information and communication technologies for office automation, and focusing on human resources development.

The lack of adequate information about intellectual property systems in the LDCs has led many people to the conclusion that intellectual property is a vehicle for protecting foreign interests. The systematic spread of information through the traditional and modern means of communication on the qualitative and quantitative aspects of the theory and practice of the various disciplines of intellectual property will help to rectify such thinking.

Since the establishment of the LDCs Program in WIPO, work has started to demonstrate the usefulness of intellectual property systems to ministers, parliamentarians and journalists in the LDCs. The Program aims to show the link between the intellectual property system, investment, research for development, and transfer of technology in order to encourage institution building and modernisation of the intellectual property systems of the LDCs.

Least Developed Countries