WIPO Assemblies Provide Direction for Next Biennium

Geneva, October 1, 2009

WIPO member states, at their annual Assemblies from September 22 to October 1, 2009, signaled strong support for the Organization’s strategic realignment with the endorsement of a program and budget for the 2010/11 biennium that boosts WIPO’s development-related activities, emphasizes the need to advance the Organization’s normative work, and further upgrades its services to the private sector. The member states also agreed to renew the mandate of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property, Traditional Knowledge, Folklore and Genetic Resources (IGC). 

After intense yet constructive discussions held over several days, member states adopted a clearly defined work plan and terms of reference to guide the IGC’s work over the next two years.  States agreed that the IGC would undertake negotiations with the objective of reaching agreement on a text of an international legal instrument (or instruments), which would ensure the effective protection of genetic resources (GRs), traditional knowledge (TK) and traditional cultural expressions (TCEs).   The decision also provided for three inter-sessional meetings of working groups to take place in 2010/11, in addition to the four regular sessions of the IGC. 

Work over the next two years will build on the previous work of the IGC. The basis for text-based negotiations will be the existing WIPO working documents on GRs, TK, and TCEs. The IGC is to submit to the 2011 General Assembly the text (or texts) of an international legal instrument(s) which would ensure the effective protection of GRs, TK and TCEs. The 2011 session of the General Assembly would then decide on convening a Diplomatic Conference. WIPO Director General Francis Gurry said this “significant” decision gave the IGC “a robust and clear mandate over the next two years.” He called this “a real step forward” for the Organization.  

Member states approved a budgetary allocation for 2010/11 amounting to 618 million Swiss francs (CHF), which represents a 1.6% (CHF 9.8 million) decrease compared to the current financial period, reflecting the impact of the global economic crisis on WIPO’s services. Almost one-fifth (some 118 million CHF) of the Organization’s budget is allocated across programs for capacity-building and development-related activities to strengthen the participation of developing and least developed countries in the benefits of the knowledge economy. An additional 4.5 million CHF was specifically allocated for the implementation of Development Agenda projects. 

Delegations expressed strong support for the project-based approach proposed by the Committee and Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP), which will accelerate efficient implementation of the Development Agenda. Member states reaffirmed their commitment to the Development Agenda which they identified as a key priority for the Organization, and stressed the importance of ensuring that adequate human and financial resources are allocated to its implementation. The General Assembly also urged the CDIP to develop a coordination mechanism for monitoring, assessing and reporting on the implementation of recommendations. The CDIP is to submit a report on this matter to the General Assembly at its 2010 session. 

Member states took note of the status of work relating to the three issues currently under discussion within the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), namely, the rights of broadcasting organizations, the rights of performers in their audiovisual performances and exceptions and limitations. Delegations expressed support for continued work in these areas with a view to concrete progress. 

The General Assembly noted a report on the work of the Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP), including the Committee’s decision to commission five studies on exclusions, exceptions and limitations, including a public policy, socio-economic and developmental perspective; on technical solutions to improve greater access to, and dissemination of, patent information; on the client-attorney privilege; and on transfer of technology and on opposition systems. 

The Assembly of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) appointed the Egyptian Patent Office and the Israel Patent Office as International Searching and Preliminary Examining Authorities under the PCT, bringing the total number of such offices to 17. The appointments will become effective from future dates to be notified by the respective offices when they are ready to begin operation. Member states also adopted a number of amendments to the regulations under the PCT which will enter into force on July 1, 2010. These concern clarification of the extent to which authorities may define the scope of supplementary international search which will be offered, a requirement for applicants filing amendments to indicate the basis of those amendments in the application as filed, and improvements to the process for establishing equivalent amounts of certain PCT fees in different currencies. The Assembly also noted a report of the second session of the PCT Working Group, held in May 2009, and approved the convening of a further session of the Working Group in 2010. 

The Madrid Union Assembly took note of the study prepared by WIPO on the possible introduction of additional filing languages (Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian and Portuguese) in the Madrid system in a way that would be operationally and economically viable. The introduction of additional filing languages would be subject to specific agreements with the offices of interested contracting parties. As a first step, the Assembly approved the implementation of a pilot project involving the participation of interested offices.  

Member countries of the Lisbon Agreement for the Protection of Appellations of Origin and their International Registration amended a number of rules governing that system to improve accessibility of information regarding the fate of international registrations in the countries of the Lisbon system. This will better enable interested parties to determine the status of protection of an internationally registered appellation of origin in a given member country, by establishing a formal framework for the communication of a “statement of grant of protection.”  

The Assemblies also approved the construction of a new conference hall with a capacity of 900 seats as well as several new smaller meeting rooms in the main headquarters building to cater for increasing demand for multilateral and bilateral consultations associated with intergovernmental meetings at WIPO. Member states earmarked 64 million CHF for this project to be covered from WIPO reserves (24 million CHF) and the extension of an existing commercial loan (40 million CHF). The new hall, designed by Behnisch Architekten of Stuttgart, Germany, gives priority to sustainability:  local wood, natural light, hybrid ventilation combining natural and mechanical means, and a cooling system drawing water from Lake Léman. These are among the most significant environmentally-friendly features of the new hall. 

The full report of the Assemblies will be available at: http://www.wipo.int/meetings/en/details.jsp?meeting_id=17454.

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