June 27, 2008
Member states of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) attending the Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP) in Geneva from June 23 to 26, 2008, began a comprehensive review of issues relating to the international patent system. The meeting was attended by 85 member states and 24 observer delegations and was chaired by Mr. Maximiliano Santa Cruz of Chile.
Following a decision of the WIPO General Assembly in autumn 2007, discussions in this week’s meeting of the SCP focused on a report on the international patent system prepared by the WIPO Secretariat to facilitate the process of establishing a work program for the SCP. The report provides an overview of current international patent issues, and attempts to cover the different needs and interests of all Member states. Consisting of ten chapters, the report touches on three broad areas, namely, the economic rationale of the patent system and its role in innovation and technology dissemination, legal and organizational aspects of the patent system and issues that are particularly relevant to broader policy considerations and development concerns.
Many delegations recognized that the report covered a wide range of issues relating to the patent system and constituted a good basis for discussion. Mindful of the mandate given to it by the WIPO General Assembly in 2007, and thus working towards a work program, the SCP identified a non-exhaustive list of issues
for further elaboration and discussion.
The Committee agreed that the report should remain open for written comments until the end of October 2008 and for discussion at the next session of the SCP in early 2009.
The SCP also requested that the WIPO Secretariat prepare preliminary studies on four issues for discussion at its next session. The studies, which are not to be considered prioritized over the other issues identified in the above-mentioned non-exhaustive list include: dissemination of patent information (including, inter alia, the establishment of a database on search and examination reports); exceptions from patentable subject matter and limitations to the rights, inter alia, research exemption and compulsory licenses; patents and standards and client-attorney privilege.
The Committee also recommended that the Director General consider including provision in the revised Program and Budget for 2009 for a Conference on issues relating to the implications, including public policy implications, of patents on certain areas of public policy, such as health, the environment, climate change and food security.
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