High Level Endorsement for WIPO’s Reform Agenda
September 29, 2010
Ministers and delegates from WIPO’s 184 member states, meeting at their annual Assemblies in Geneva from September 20 to 29, 2010, endorsed reforms led by Director General Francis Gurry and welcomed the new Medium Term Strategic Plan (MTSP), which sets the broad direction for the Organization through the next five years. The Assemblies had opened with an impassioned call from the legendary singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder, urging government representatives to reach agreement on enhanced accessibility of copyright content for persons with physical disabilities.
Presenting the MTSP, which had been developed through an intensive consultation process with member states, the Director General outlined the changes in the external environment in which intellectual property operates, and how those changes impact upon the Organization’s work. The MTSP sets out a framework based on WIPO’s nine strategic goals, proposes desired outcomes in relation to each of those goals, and outlines strategies to achieve those outcomes. The thrust of the MTSP is to ensure that WIPO keeps pace with the changing external environment and that it delivers clear results in pursuit of its overall mission to promote innovation and creativity - through a balanced and effective intellectual property system - for the economic, social and cultural development of all countries.
The Assemblies undertook a comprehensive review of progress in implementing the ambitious strategic change program on which WIPO embarked in late 2008. The strategic realignment program (SRP) identifies nineteen key initiatives, grouped under four core values, which are designed to equip the Organization to be more responsive, efficient and effective in fulfilling its strategic goals. Delegates welcomed the significant progress made in implementation of the SRP.
Speaking at the closing of the Assemblies, Mr. Gurry said “we started on notes of harmony with Stevie Wonder and that harmonious atmosphere has continued throughout the Assemblies.” Mr. Gurry expressed gratitude to the over 70 ministers who took part in the high level segment of the Assemblies, noting their participation reflected “a high level political engagement and interest in the Organization’s work.” The Chair of the WIPO General Assembly, Ambassador Alberto Dumont, who is also Argentina’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva, welcomed the positive outcome of the Assemblies, saying the sessions had been “extremely fruitful.”
The Assemblies took stock of the Organization’s substantive work over the last year, and provided direction for the future work program. Ministers from over 70 countries addressed a high level segment on the theme of innovation, growth and development. The Director General provided a report summarizing the Organization’s achievements and activities over the past year. He underlined the role of innovation in promoting economic growth and competitiveness, as well as the significant changes in the dynamic global innovation landscape in his opening address to the meeting.
A highlight of the Assemblies was the call by award-winning singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder for the international community to act to enhance the accessibility of copyright content for persons with physical disabilities. Stevie Wonder’s statement related to discussions by WIPO member states in the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) on the question of better access to copyright-protected works for the blind, visually impaired (VIP) and other reading-disabled persons. Several proposals aimed at creating an enabling legal environment for better access to copyright-protected works for reading impaired persons are under discussion. The General Assembly welcomed progress in these discussions, and also underlined the need to expedite talks on a proposed treaty to strengthen the rights of performers in their audiovisual performances, and to update rights of broadcasting organizations in response to technological developments.
Delegations reiterated their commitment to the WIPO Development Agenda and the importance of its effective implementation. Member states expressed their satisfaction with recent progress in the fourth and the fifth sessions of the Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP) in particular the adoption of the Coordination Mechanisms and Monitoring, Assessing and Reporting Modalities. The Director General’s report on Implementation of the Development Agenda was also welcomed. Particular appreciation was expressed for Development Agenda projects on Intellectual Property and Socio-Economic Development and the Enhancement of WIPO's Results-Based Management (RBM) Framework as well as studies outlining WIPO's Contribution to the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Patent Related Flexibilities in the Multilateral Legal Framework and their Legislative Implementation at the National and Regional Levels considered by the fifth session of the CDIP in April 2010.
WIPO will also shortly launch an integrated internet-based database which contains detailed information on the implementation of technical assistance activities, as well as the consultants hired by the Organization to undertake these activities. Both databases flow from the Development Agenda recommendations. This is an important resource for member states and other development stakeholders and will facilitate the coordination of technical assistance activities across partner organizations and other development agencies.
Member states welcomed the spirit of cooperation that prevailed in the search for a consensus on an international legal instrument (or instruments) to ensure the effective protection of traditional knowledge (TK), traditional cultural expressions (TCEs) and genetic resources (GRs). Delegates expressed satisfaction with the progress achieved within the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) and committed to continued constructive and active engagement in the process. They noted, in particular, that the first Intersessional Working Group (IWG), held in July 2010, had marked a significant step forward in the IGC's negotiations. The IWG produced a more practical and streamlined text for the IGC's negotiations in relation to TCEs. Delegations looked forward to future IWGs on TK and genetic resources in schedule for early 2011, as well as to the next IGC in December 2010. Member states also recalled the complexity of the issues before the IGC and the need for coordination with other intergovernmental processes. Several delegations welcomed a proposal by the Sultanate of Oman to host an international technical workshop in 2011 to discuss registration and documentation systems in the context of TK and TCEs.
The General Assembly noted a progress report on the work of the Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP), addressing the six preliminary studies discussed at the 14th session of the Committee that took place in January 2010, and an overview of the agenda of the next session of the SCP to be held from October 11 to 15, 2010. This includes a study by external experts on exclusions, exceptions and limitations, as well as a proposal by the Delegation of Brazil on exceptions and limitations.
A number of delegations strongly endorsed the work of the Standing Committee on the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications, in particular in the areas of industrial design law and practice, the protection of country names against registration and use as trademarks, and on trademarks and the Internet.
The Assembly of the International Patent Cooperation Treaty Union (PCT) noted reports on the work being undertaken by the PCT Working Group, the PCT Meeting of International Authorities and WIPO to find ways to improve the delivery of PCT services to stakeholders. At the most recent session of the PCT Working Group, member states had unanimously endorsed a series of recommendations based on a WIPO study entitled “The Need for Improving the Functioning of the PCT System”. These cover a variety of measures designed to improve the functioning of the PCT system, in particular, to improve the quality of international search and examination reports, and to develop IT systems to allow third parties to bring prior art to the attention of patent offices and to assist licensing. Other measures agreed include a series of studies aimed at reviewing and assessing how well the PCT system has been functioning in terms of realizing the Treaty’s aims of disseminating technical information and facilitating access to technology as well as organizing technical assistance for developing countries. The Assembly also adopted a number of amendments to the PCT Regulations.
The Assembly of the Patent Law Treaty (PLT) adopted modifications to the Model International Request Form and decided that certain modifications of the Administrative Instructions under the PCT would apply for the purposes of the PLT and its Regulations, both with immediate effect.
The Singapore Treaty Assembly approved changes to the Regulations under the Singapore Treaty, which now provide uniform standards for the representation of a number of non-traditional marks, such as hologram marks, motion marks, color marks, position marks and sound marks.
The Madrid Union Assembly and the Hague Union Assembly both took note of the status report and the steady progress made in implementing the information technology modernization program. The members of the Madrid Union Assembly also took note of the considerable progress that has been made in the construction of the database of acceptable indications of goods and services for the purposes of the Madrid system procedures (Madrid System Goods and Services Database) in English, French and Spanish. WIPO is also cooperating with interested trademark offices to make the database available in other languages."
The General Assembly noted the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center’s activities in the domain name system. These included record Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) case filing under a WIPO-pioneered electronic case filing system introduced last December, and the Center’s continued engagement in relation to the planned expansion of the top-level domains.
Member states mandated the secretariat to complete the integration and extension of its comprehensive, integrated Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System, which will modernize WIPO’s core administrative, management and customer-service functions; and provide member states and management with better information on performance and resource utilization. Delegations also commended the secretariat for being among the front runners in the UN system to adopt the new accounting standards (International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS)), approved a five-year strategy for regularizing the contractual situation of long serving staff members on short term contracts, and noted the positive outcome of the voluntary separation program.
The Assemblies took note of progress reports on two major ongoing construction projects: the new administrative building which will be completed before the end of 2010 and the construction of a new conference hall which is expected to begin in 2011. Delegates also noted reports on the Carbon Neutrality Project and the Accessibility Project, both of which were launched in 2009 and are in the early stages of implementation. On the occasion of the International Year of Biodiversity, the Assemblies were informed of a number of examples of biodiversity that existed on the WIPO campus.
Member states agreed to a new language policy for the Organization, based on a paper prepared by the secretariat and requests to extend the number of languages in which documents are translated. In light of the resource-intensive nature of this activity, member states agreed on a phased extension of the languages. The aim is to progressively extend language coverage in as many WIPO committees and bodies as possible.
A full report of all deliberations and decisions is available at: http://www.wipo.int/meetings/en/doc_details.jsp?doc_id=147899.
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