Seoul Ministerial Declaration on Intellectual Property for the Least Developed Countries

Seoul, Republic of Korea, October 25 to 27, 2004

We, ministers and senior government officials participating in the Ministerial Conference on Intellectual Property for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs),

Having met at the Ministerial Conference on Intellectual Property for the LDCs in Seoul, Republic of Korea, from October 25 to 27, 2004, organized by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in cooperation with the Government of the Republic of Korea with a view to articulating policy and settling technical issues regarding the integration of intellectual property in the national development strategies of the LDCs,

Having discussed the challenges faced by the LDCs and the opportunities available to them for integrating intellectual property in their national development strategies,

Recognizing that the LDCs face severe constraints such as a shortage of resources and a weak intellectual property infrastructure, despite their efforts to build up national IP institutions,

Recognizing further that intellectual property protection is having an increasing impact on our countries’ technological, economic, cultural and social progress, and that the creation, protection, management and use of intellectual property rights would contribute to economic development by facilitating the transfer of technology, increasing employment and creating wealth,

Reaffirming the vital importance and desirability of improving the institutional and policy framework for the modernization and development of the intellectual property systems and institutions of the LDCs,

Realizing the importance of intellectual property to critical policy fields such as food security, health, employment, trade, culture and heritage, the environment, investment and scientific and technological development,

Realizing also that WIPO is a pioneer among United Nations agencies in having launched a specific program for the LDCs,

Acknowledging that rapid changes in digital technology have made copyright economically very important, and that the contributions of copyright systems to national economies are noteworthy in terms of their contribution to economic and social development,

1. Urge WIPO to contribute to the realization of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and other international initiatives targeted on LDCs;

2. State the importance of addressing the main problems facing our countries regarding IP institution-building with a renewed sense of common concern, purpose and objective, by seeking opportunities for strengthening regional and international cooperation in the use of intellectual property to promote national development;

3. Decide to participate actively in deliberations in various international fora, particularly within WIPO, on the wealth-creation effect of intellectual property at the national level in formulating strategies, policies, plans and mechanisms;

4. Decide to continue and further strengthen the protection and use of national cultural and artistic creations, particularly relating to traditional cultural expressions such as folklore, through the copyright and related rights system and other appropriate mechanisms;

5. Decide moreover to continue and increase the use of trademarks, service marks, designs and geographical indications in economic activities, especially in the export sector;

6. Urge WIPO to strengthen and enhance its assistance to the LDCs in meeting all their IP objectives as identified above; in particular, attention should be paid to supporting creative and innovative activity in our countries across all economic sectors including universities, R&D institutions and human resources development;

7. Express their full support of the efforts of WIPO to promote further development of the international IP system at the various gatherings;

8. Express their appreciation to the Government of the Republic of Korea for establishing a Korea Funds in Trust with WIPO for developing countries, in particular the LDCs, to assist them in the use of intellectual property as a tool for economic growth and development;

9. Urge WIPO to organize a Ministerial Conference of the LDCs every three years at a venue to be determined by consultation between the parties concerned;

10. Request that the outcome of the present Ministerial Conference be fully taken into account by WIPO in its LDC Program;

11. Extend our deepest appreciation and gratitude to the Government of the Republic of Korea for the excellent arrangements made for the Conference and for its warm generosity and hospitality, as well as our thanks to WIPO for its contribution to the success of the Ministerial Conference.

Seoul, Republic of Korea, October 26, 2004

Least Developed Countries