A Stronger Voice for Indigenous and Local Communities (IGC)
The Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC), meeting in its ninth session from April 24 to 28, put into operation a Voluntary Fund to enhance participation of indigenous and local communities in its work. Following pledges by the Swedish International Biodiversity Programme, SwedBio, and France, the Fund is expected to support directly the participation of geographically and culturally diverse groups of representatives of indigenous and local communities in the next IGC session.
The session opened with a panel of indigenous representatives from Brazil, Canada, Kenya, Panama, the Philippines, Russia, and Vanuatu, chaired by a leader of the North American Tulalip Tribes. Each explained the needs and concerns of their diverse communities to guide the IGC’s work.
The IGC took up a renewed mandate, with many delegations voicing the expectation voiced that it should move towards tangible outcomes. The Committee considered the subject matter, focus and level of detail that such outcomes should have. It reviewed the interplay between the international dimension and national legal systems, and the relationship with other international instruments and processes.
The IGC’s work on traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions currently centers on two complementary sets of draft provisions of the objectives and principles of protection. Based on discussions over eight past sessions, the experience of more than 70 countries, and an intersessional stakeholder commentary process, the draft provisions outline possible policy and legal space for protection against misappropriation and misuse, and help define the legal measures for this protection. Although still in draft form, they have been widely consulted upon and have already served as a benchmark for a range of international, regional and national policy processes. The ninth session further reviewed these draft materials, debating the appropriate form, legal content, and core principles of any outcomes of the IGC’s work on protection of TK and TCEs. The Committee agreed on an extended duration of its next session, (December 2006), in part to ensure a full review of intersessional comments made on these materials.
The IGC continued its work on improving the recognition of TK in the patent examination process, so that patents are not unwittingly granted that illegitimately cover TK subject matter. This work included practical measures such as improved information systems, guidelines for patent offices, and proposals for patent disclosure requirements relevant to genetic resources and TK. The Committee also took stock of work on the IP aspects of access to - and benefit-sharing from - genetic resources.
Updating Broadcasting Rights (SCCR)
At the 14 th session of Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) from May 1 to 5, WIPO Member States agreed a framework to enable them to take forward negotiations on a treaty to protect the rights of broadcasting organizations. Resolving what had been a sticking point, they agreed that issues relating to webcasting and simulcasting would be dealt with separately in a parallel process, leaving the main process to concentrate on questions relating to the rights of traditional broadcasting and cablecasting organizations. Member States agreed to hold an additional session of the SCCR ahead of the annual meeting of the WIPO General Assembly to strengthen consensus on questions relating to the rights of traditional broadcasters and cablecasters, so that the General Assembly in autumn 2006 would be able to recommend the convening of a diplomatic conference to conclude a treaty in 2007. The questions of webcasting and simulcasting would continue to be examined at a meeting of the SCCR after the General Assembly.
"We are very pleased that Member States have been able to agree on a framework to move forward in their work on these important questions," said WIPO Deputy Director General Rita Hayes. "We are very encouraged by the constructive and cooperative spirit of the discussions, which show a serious willingness on the part of the Member States to find balanced solutions to these questions."
Delegates agreed that the 15 th session of the SCCR would be confined to the protection of broadcasting and cablecasting organizations in the traditional sense. Discussions would be based on a revised draft basic proposal, prepared on the basis of existing documents and proposals and taking into account discussions of the Committee. Delegates also agreed that a revised proposal on the protection of webcasting and simulcasting would be prepared on the basis of the Basic Proposal (SCCR/14/2) and other existing proposals and taking into account the discussions at the 14 th session.
Main documents of the 14 th session included:
- Draft Basic Proposal for the WIPO Treaty on the Protection of Broadcasting Organizations Including Non-Mandatory Appendix on the Protection in Relation to Webcasting (Ref. SCCR/14/2)
- Working Paper for the Preparation of the Basic Proposal for a Treaty on the Protection of Broadcasting Organizations (SCCR/14/3)
- Proposal by Colombia (SCCR/14/4)
Awareness-Raising for Effective Enforcement (ACE)
The Advisory Committee on Enforcement (ACE), meeting from May 15 to 17, focused on the role of education and awareness-raising in combating counterfeiting and piracy and in building support for global enforcement efforts. "The Advisory Committee on Enforcement has been successful in mobilizing attention about the importance of effective enforcement," said WIPO Director General Kamil Idris. "We cannot underestimate the negative impact of counterfeiting and piracy, and not just in terms of the economic losses, but also the threat posed to health and security."
Presentations from Member States and private sector representatives on experiences in the field of IP enforcement provided valuable insights into the problems and the approaches adopted in different countries. It also underscored the need for closer international cooperation in tackling enforcement challenges.
The presentations covered topics including the advisability of an officially adopted holistic approach to enforcement matters; problems related to health and safety in developing countries; the importance of training trainers; the expansion of efficient public outreach programs and of involving collecting societies; the elaboration of comprehensive national guidelines for the fight against piracy; the need to give foreign investors confidence in the rule of law; and the need to ensure that institutional structures were in place before assistance was given to a country.
The Committee took note of the wide-ranging activities undertaken by WIPO in the form of expert missions, seminars, workshops and training, including specialized training sessions for members of the judiciary. Some delegations provided information on development cooperation activities in their countries relevant to IP rights enforcement..
Following informal consultations, the Committee agreed that the next session of the ACE should focus on an exchange of views on coordination and cooperation at the international, regional and national levels in the field of enforcement.