WIPO Member States Approve Organization’s 2016/17 Program and Budget

Geneva, October 15, 2015

Capping ten days of deliberations, WIPO member states approved the Organization’s Program and Budget for the two-year period beginning in 2016 and made good progress on a wide range of issues. 

Delegates at the WIPO Assemblies, which met from October 5-14, approved a projected expenditure by the Organization of 707 million Swiss Francs across the 2016/17 biennium, or a 4.9 percent increase over the previous two-year period. 

Revenue in the 2016/17 biennium is expected to rise by about 6 percent, to 756.3 million Swiss francs, with the projected surplus largely used to build financial reserves to a more secure level. 

“The Assemblies produced a rich array of positive results as a consequence of the extraordinary engagement of the member states,” said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry at the closing of the meeting. 

Hundreds of delegates representing WIPO’s 188 member states also set out the Organization’s work program, while deliberating on a raft of issues. Among their work, delegates: 

  • Agreed on the renewal of the mandate of the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (the IGC) for the 2016-2017 biennium, as well as the work plan for the IGC for the biennium. According to the mandate agreed upon, the IGC will continue to expedite its work, including text-based negotiations, with the objective of reaching an agreement on an international legal instrument(s) relating to intellectual property which will ensure the balanced and effective protection of genetic resources (GRs), traditional knowledge (TK) and traditional cultural expressions (TCEs). The mandate also notes that studies, seminars and workshops may complement the Committee’s work. The General Assembly in 2017 will take stock of progress made, and decide on whether to convene a diplomatic conference or continue negotiations;
  • Adopted guiding principles on the opening of any future WIPO external offices, with a maximum of three new offices during each of the 2016/17 and 2018/19 biennia and priority given to Africa as a host during those periods;
  • Agreed to convene a diplomatic conference for the adoption of a design law treaty to develop simplified standards for industrial design registration procedures in the first half of 2017 subject to the completion at the 34th and 35th sessions of the Standing Committee on the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications (SCT) of discussions on technical assistance and a possible disclosure requirement aiming at the protection of traditional assets from misappropriation;
  • Noted the decision of the Lisbon Union Assembly to adopt measures by the 2016 Assemblies to eliminate the Lisbon Union’s projected biennial deficit, as reflected in the Program and Budget 2016/17 and approved a loan from the reserves of the Contribution-financed Unions to the Lisbon Union in case the adopted measures would not be sufficient to cover the said deficit;
  • Adopted a number of amendments to the PCT Regulations to provide greater accessibility and flexibility for applicants and also to facilitate the sharing of results of work performed by Offices;
  • Appointed the Visegrad Patent Institute as an International Searching and Preliminary Examining Authority under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). The Visegrad Patent Institute is an intergovernmental organization for cooperation in the field of patents among the Czech Republic, Hungary, the Republic of Poland and the Slovak Republic;
  • Adopted a number of changes to the Common Regulations of the Madrid System intended to make the Madrid System more user-friendly, while noting the final report on the Information Technology Modernization Program, as well as the progress made in the last year in respect of the Madrid Goods and Services Database;
  • Approved the 2014 financial statements, which had received an unqualified audit opinion;
  • Approved WIPO’s revised policy on investments, which will result in the implementation of two investment policies – one for Operating and Core Cash, and one for Strategic Cash;
  • Approved WIPO’s revised policy related to the Reserves (net assets) of the Organization;
  • Approved the definition of “Development Expenditure” in the context of the Program and Budget, to be first applied to the draft proposed Program and Budget 2018/19; and
  • Approved the revised terms of reference of the WIPO Independent Advisory Oversight Committee (IAOC). 

In other developments:

  • Member states took note of the report of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights and directed it to continue work on protection of broadcasting organizations, limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives and limitations and exceptions for educational and research institutions and persons with other disabilities;
  • The General Assembly took note of the progress report for the Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP) held in November 2014 and July 2015 and the future work that will take place at the next session in November. That session will include a half-day seminar in the area of patents and health and two sharing sessions with respect to inventive step assessment and confidentiality of communications between clients and their patent advisors.  In addition, the Secretariat will prepare a compilation of member states’ experiences and case studies on the effectiveness of exceptions and limitations to patent rights. The Committee will also hold discussion on transfer of technology vis-à-vis sufficiency of disclosure, and continue discussion on the feasibility study on the disclosure of International Nonproprietary Names (INN) in patent applications and patents.
  • The Coordination Committee endorsed the Annual Report on Human Resources and noted the progress made in implementing the Organization’s Human Resources strategy as well as policy reforms and process modernization.  The Coordination Committee approved a number of amendments to WIPO’s Staff Regulations and designated the Chair and Deputy Chair of the WIPO Appeal Board. The Coordination Committee further agreed that consultations among member states will take place, under its auspices, to review the 1975 Principles on geographical distribution for filling vacancies in posts.
  • Member states noted developments in the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center’s provision of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services, including assistance requested by certain intellectual property offices in offering ADR options for opposition and other disputes before these offices. Member states took note that the number of UDRP domain name cases administered by the WIPO Center in 2014 increased by 2%, to a total of over 32,000 cases covering more than 60,000 domain names;  of the cases received by WIPO in 2015 so far, some 14% involve registrations in newly-introduced Top-Level Domains;
  • Member states took note of the annual report of the WIPO Independent Advisory Oversight Committee (IAOC), the annual report of the Director of the Internal Oversight Division and the report of the External Auditor;
  • The Assembly of the Hague Union took note of the final report on the IT-modernization project, which underlies the International Bureau’s objectives of a better administration and wider usage of the Hague system.
  • The General Assembly directed the Standing Committee on the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications (SCT) to examine the different systems for protection of geographical indications, within its current mandate and covering all aspects.
  • Member states took note of the report of the Committee on Development and Intellectual Property. 

Ambassador Gabriel Duque, Colombia’s Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization, chaired the General Assembly. 

Delegates also enjoyed a full slate of member state events during the Assemblies, with engagements hosted by the Kingdom of Thailand, the Czech Republic, Spain, India, Slovenia, United Kingdom, Georgia and Republic of Korea.

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