Results of the 2006 Assemblies of WIPO Member States
The Assemblies get under way. (Photo WIPO/Mercedes Martínez Dozal)
"As a global body encouraging creativity and innovation, as well as being a market-oriented provider of services for a demanding cross-section of users, WIPO’s constituency is wide. Our goal has been to ensure that the totality of that constituency is included in the drive to help identify, protect and use intellectual assets." - Director General Kamil Idris in his opening address to the Assemblies.
The Assemblies of WIPO’s 183 Member States concluded on October 3, having achieved consensus on every item on the agenda.
At the closing session, Director General Kamil Idris thanked delegates for the wisdom they had brought to bear during the discussions and for their good will in ensuring that all items handled by the General Assembly were concluded successfully. He looked forward to the continuation of this spirit of determination and commitment to enable the Organization to face the challenges ahead. The WIPO General Assembly was chaired by Ambassador Enrique Manalo, Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva, who joined Dr. Idris in extolling the constructive approach which had prevailed throughout the Assemblies.
The principal decisions of the meetings that took place from September 25 to October 3 include the following:
Program and budget
The Assemblies adopted a new mechanism for the preparation and follow up of the program and budget which strengthens the role of Member States. Members welcomed the Secretariat’s progress report on the implementation of the Joint Inspection Unit’s recommendations, including progress on the desk-to-desk review. They also welcomed a report on the Secretariat’s initiatives in the last year to strengthen budgetary control and managerial processes, including a comprehensive revision of human resources strategies, procurement procedures and internal oversight.
The General Assembly renewed the mandate of the Provisional Committee on Proposals Related to a WIPO Development Agenda (PCDA) for a further year. Member States reviewed the two sessions of the PCDA in February and June 2006, and emphasized the need to continue discussions on the proposals submitted so far in the process. The General Assembly agreed that the PCDA would hold two 5-day sessions to allow for structured in-depth discussions on all 111 proposals made so far. The lists of proposals to be discussed in the first and second sessions were identified.
In order to streamline the process of examining all proposals in an inclusive manner, the PCDA will seek to narrow down the proposals to eliminate repetition or duplication; separate actionable proposals from declarations of general principles and objectives; and note those proposals which relate to existing activities in WIPO and those which do not. Ambassador Manalo will produce initial working documents in consultation with Member States.
The PCDA will report to the 2007 General Assembly, with recommendations for action on agreed proposals, and a framework for considering further proposals following the 2007 General Assembly. In the interim, and without prejudice to the provision of technical assistance, Member States agreed that the Permanent Committee on Intellectual Property and Development (PCIPD), which was established in 1999 to deal with matters relating to cooperation for development, will cease to exist.
In line with the earlier sessions of the PCDA in 2006, WIPO will provide financing to facilitate the attendance at PCDA meetings of representatives from developing countries, least developed countries (LDCs) and countries in transition.
Rights of broadcasting organizations
The General Assembly agreed to convene a diplomatic conference from November 19 to December 7, 2007, with a view to concluding a treaty on the protection of broadcasting organizations, including cablecasting organizations.
The decision sets a roadmap for the last leg of negotiations, including two special sessions of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) in January and June to clarify the outstanding issues and to "aim to agree and finalize, on a signal-based approach, the objectives, specific scope and object of protection." The discussions are confined to the protection of traditional broadcasting organizations and cablecasting following a decision by the May 2006 session of the SCCR to examine questions of webcasting and simulcasting on a separate track.
"The positive results of this meeting can be attributed to all the Member States’ unrelenting efforts to arrive at decisions by consensus on the major issues on our agenda."
- Ambassador Enrique Manalo, Chair of the General Assembly.
Law of Patents
Member States agreed on a way forward in respect of discussions held in the context of WIPO's Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP). They decided that proposals regarding the work program of the SCP, including proposals on different approaches, may be submitted by December 2006. Proposals will be circulated in consolidated form to all Member States. They agreed that the Chairman of the General Assembly would hold informal, inclusive consultations in the first half of 2007 to discuss the proposals and would recommend a work plan for the SCP to the General Assembly in September 2007. The General Assembly in September 2007 will consider the results of the consultations with a view to establishing a work plan for the SCP for 2008 and 2009.
The Secretariat also informed Member States that a series of informal information meetings would be held in Geneva from October 2006 to September 2007on patent-related topics, including research exemption; technical standards; flexibilities in the patent system; national strategies for innovation; and transfer of technology. The first two colloquia will take place on October 11 and November 29, 2006, respectively.
Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks
Member States expressed support for the Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks, which was concluded in March 2006 and will enter into force when 10 countries or intergovernmental organizations ratify or accede to the Treaty. Member States also welcomed a resolution by the diplomatic conference to provide assistance to least developed and developing countries to facilitate implementation of the Treaty in those countries. Implementation of the Singapore Treaty will enable national and regional trademark administration authorities to benefit from simplified procedures, including electronic means of communication. This will reduce procedural transaction costs and provide additional incentives for business to invest and expand internationally.
Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore
Member States expressed their commitment to accelerating the work of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC), and to generating tangible results. Member States also welcomed the implementation of the Voluntary Fund, established at the 2005 General Assembly, to finance the participation of representatives of accredited observers representing indigenous and local communities. The Voluntary Fund has attracted a number of pledges, which promise to make it operational in time for the December meeting of the IGC.
Member States noted the status of consultations on the protection of audiovisual performances and agreed to keep the issue on the agenda of the General Assembly in September 2007. The purpose of a new instrument would be to strengthen the position of performers in the audiovisual industry by providing a clearer legal basis for the international use of audiovisual works, both in traditional media and in digital networks. The General Assembly also noted the Director General’s proposal to organize national and regional seminars in the coming year in order to explore the issues at stake and the various solutions found in existing national legislation and contractual practices.
Member States took note of the work of the Advisory Committee on Enforcement (ACE), particularly in the field of education, awareness building, and training, in all areas of IP enforcement.
Member States endorsed the appointment of the Nordic Patent Institute, comprising the patent offices of Denmark, Iceland and Norway, as an International Searching and Preliminary Examining Authority under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). The PCT Assembly also reviewed the status of the PCT reform process, which is designed to ensure that the PCT is in line with the needs of the user community. Delegates noted the significant productivity gains in the past three years due to the increasing use of information technologies in PCT procedures.
Member States endorsed a proposal to establish a digital access service for priority documents. This is a voluntary arrangement designed to save applicants from having to produce proof of filing of the original application separately in each state where priority is claimed. A working group will be convened in early 2007 to help establish the procedures.
The Assembly of the Madrid Union for the international registration of trademarks examined provisions concerning the refusal procedure, as required under the Madrid Protocol ten years after its entry into force. Members concluded that this was functioning satisfactorily and required no substantive change. The Madrid Assembly also adopted an interpretative statement allowing for further reviews of the operation of the refusal procedure in the future.
The Madrid Assembly adopted a number of amendments to the Common Regulations under the Madrid Agreement and Protocol which govern the international trademark registration system. Most of the amendments will take effect as from April 1, 2007. Member States also adopted amendments relating to the continuation of the effects of international registrations in a state that becomes independent from another Member State. These provisions establish a simple procedure allowing holders of international registrations to maintain their international registration in the newly independent country.
The Madrid Assembly also extended the mandate of the Working Group on the Legal Development of the Madrid System to continue discussion of a possible review of the "safeguard clause" in the Madrid Protocol and to ensure that the System will continue to meet the needs of the user community.
Arbitration and mediation
The General Assembly reviewed WIPO's activities in relation to the protection of IP in the Internet Domain Name System. Currently an average of 4.5 new domain name cases are filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center each day. Member States noted the status of recommendations made by the 2002 WIPO General Assembly in relation to the Second WIPO Internet Domain Name Process, which concerns the relationship between domain names and certain types of identifiers other than trademarks. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is now considering recommendations for the protection of the names and acronyms of international intergovernmental organizations (IGOs).
Program Performance Report
The WIPO Assemblies approved the results-based Program Performance Report of the Organization for the 2004-2005 biennium. The WIPO Assemblies also took note of information on the implementation of major activities in the first half of 2006, including the Progress Report on the New Construction Project, informing Member States about progress made since the WIPO Assemblies in 2005.
"This Organization has crafted programs of benefit to all nations; it is a world-class provider of intellectual property services and the main global intellectual property norm-setting body. It must seek to strengthen that position and to inspire for future generations a genuine, inclusive, well-grounded intellectual property culture."
– Director General Kamil Idris
In line with WIPO’s commitment to transparency and inclusive debate, the Assemblies granted observer status to a number of international non-governmental organizations. These include the Arab Federation for the Protection of Intellectual Property Rights (AFPIPR); the European Commercial Patent Services Group (PatCom); and 3D – Trade – Human Rights – Equitable Economy (3D).
Organizations granted observer status are invited to attend the meetings of WIPO Assemblies and other meetings of direct interest to them. Nine additional national non-governmental organizations, considered to be in a position to offer constructive and substantive contributions to the deliberations of WIPO Assemblies, were granted observer status in conformity with a decision by WIPO Member States in October 2002. At present, 67 inter-governmental organizations (IGOs), 203 international NGOs and 40 national NGOs have observer status with WIPO.