Delegates paid tribute to the skillful chairmanship of Ambassador C. Trevor Clarke. (Photo: WIPO/Mercedes Martínez-Dozal)
PCDA: Milestone Agreement on WIPO Development Agenda
The Fourth Session of the Provisional Committee on Proposals Related to a WIPO Development Agenda (PCDA), which met from June 11 to 15, closed on a high note when Member States agreed on a final list of proposals to be recommended for action to the WIPO General Assembly in September. The recommendations included the establishment of a new Committee on Development and Intellectual Property to take forward work on the development agenda.
WIPO Director General Kamil Idris hailed the agreement as a major breakthrough in the discussions on a development agenda for WIPO, describing it as a milestone in the history of the Organization. “This process, and the spirit of compromise and mutual understanding in which it took place,” he commented, “is an important contribution to international efforts to promote the development of a balanced intellectual property system that is responsive to the needs and interests of all countries – developed and developing alike.” Mr. Sherif Saadallah, who as Executive Director of the Office of Strategic Use of Intellectual Property for Development oversees WIPO’s work relating to the development agenda, joined Dr. Idris in highlighting the energy, political commitment and sense of balance which had characterized the negotiations.
The negotiators from 93 Member States reached agreement on a set of principles and objectives covering five “clusters” of activities, grouped under the following themes:
- Cluster A: Technical Assistance and Capacity Building;
- Cluster B: Norm-setting, Flexibilities, Public Policy and the Public Domain;
- Cluster C: Technology Transfer, Information and Communication Technology and Access to Knowledge;
- Cluster D: Assessments, Evaluation and Impact Studies;
- Cluster E: Institutional Matters including Mandate and Governance.
A first set of 24 proposals agreed by the PCDA in February will be added to the 21 proposals agreed upon at the June session to form the full set of proposals to be submitted to the General Assembly in September. In order to accelerate implementation, the PCDA will continue informal consultations regarding proposals which could be implemented immediately after approval by the General Assembly.
The PCDA Chairman, Ambassador C. Trevor Clarke, Permanent Representative of Barbados to the United Nations in Geneva, noted that a great deal had been achieved in the negotiations to date, but warned that the complexity of intellectual property and the continuing challenges of development meant that much work still lay ahead.
The proposed new Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP), to be convened in the first half of 2008, would be composed of Member States and open to the participation of all accredited intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. The mandate of the PCDA will not be renewed.
The PCDA will meet prior to the General Assembly in a resumed session on September 4 to adopt the report of the June meeting.
More time is needed to resolve key issues. (Photos.com)
SCCR: Protection of Broadcasting Organizations - Discussions to Continue at Committee Level
The second special session of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), held from June 18 to 22, concluded that further discussions were required on various aspects of the proposed treaty on the protection of broadcasting organizations before it was possible to move to a diplomatic conference. The Committee proposed that the subject of the broadcasters’ treaty should remain on the agenda of the SCCR, and that a diplomatic conference should only be convened after agreement on objectives, specific scope and object of protection has been achieved. The Committee agreed that the work of the past years served as a firm foundation on which to develop balanced solutions at the international level to address the growing problems of broadcast signal piracy. It recommended that the WIPO General Assembly in September take note of the current status of the work; and acknowledged that progress was made towards better understanding of the positions of the various stakeholders.
Commenting on the outcome, WIPO Deputy Director General Michael Keplinger stressed that Member States had expressed strong interest in continuing to work towards the objectives of protection on a signal based approach, as mandated by the 2006 WIPO General Assembly. “The process to date has gone a long way in building understanding on these very technical and complex issues,” he said. “Member States are now actively engaged in these discussions and a great deal of work has been done on these questions but a number of key issues still need to be ironed out.”
The Chair of the SCCR, Mr. Jukka Liedes, also acknowledged progress made in moving the process forward and said that more time was needed to bring the negotiations to a successful conclusion. He thanked all delegations for their flexibility and constructive engagement in the discussions which, he said, would be key to a successful outcome.
The 2006 WIPO General Assembly called for two special sessions of the SCCR to be held in 2007. These sessions were mandated “to aim to agree and finalize, on a signal-based approach, the objectives, specific scope and object of protection with a view to submitting to the diplomatic conference a revised basic proposal.” Discussions were centered on the Revised Draft Basic Proposal, contained in document no. SCCR 15/2.
The General Assembly had decided that a diplomatic conference to conclude a treaty on the protection of traditional broadcasting organizations, including cablecasting organizations, would be held from November 19 to December 7, 2007, if agreement on a new text was achieved during the special sessions. The first of these sessions was held in January 2007. As the result of a decision by the 14th session of the SCCR in May 2006 to examine questions of webcasting and simulcasting, on a separate track at a later date, the discussions in the two special sessions were confined to the protection of traditional broadcasting organizations and cablecasting organizations.
IGC: Recommendation to Renew Mandate
The Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC), meeting in Geneva from July 3 to 12, recommended that the WIPO General Assembly should renew its mandate to continue work on IP and traditional knowledge (TK), traditional cultural expressions (TCEs) (also termed 'expressions of folklore'), and genetic resources. The current mandate of the IGC expires in December 2007.
This session concentrated on core issues for the protection of TK and TCEs, focusing on the fundamental policy challenges that are central to the quest for more effective protection against misuse and misappropriation. These issues cover such questions as definitions of traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, the form and scope of protection, and the nature of the beneficiaries. This process has constituted the first systematic multilateral review of these fundamental IP policy questions, building on a rich base of work in the Committee that has drawn on the experience of over 80 countries and many indigenous and local communities. The Committee requested the Secretariat to prepare new working documents consolidating this exploration of the issues.
On genetic resources, the Committee reviewed the full range of options for its work in this area, on the basis also of an overview and reports from other UN agencies working in this field, including the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Food and Agricultural Organization, and the United Nations Secretariat. The work of the Committee will continue with the options discussed and an update of work in the other forums. The options reviewed include patent disclosure requirements, with the European Community and Switzerland both proposing specific reforms to the patent system to provide for specific disclosure relating to genetic resources and traditional knowledge, and alternative proposals for dealing with the relationship between IP and genetic resources; the interface between the patent system and genetic resources; and the IP aspects of access and benefit-sharing contracts; and a factual update of international developments relevant to the genetic resources agenda item (see documents WIPO/GRTK/IC/11/8(a) and (b)). Peru tabled a further analysis of its national initiatives against biopiracy, and Japan updated and extended its proposal for a database to ensure that information on genetic resources is better taken into account in patent examination.
A Mongolian singer with traditional wedding dress performed at the IGC. (Photo: Mercedes Martínez Dozal)
Performances liven up IGC
The IGC session opened with an Indigenous Panel, chaired by Mr. Greg Young Ing of the Opsakwayak Cree Nation, at which seven representatives of indigenous and local communities explained to the Committee their communities’ experiences, concerns and expectations regarding IP and TK, TCEs, and genetic resources.
The IGC’s work was enlivened by performances of traditional music and dance from a troupe of traditional Mongolian musicians and dancers; a group of Geneva-based traditional Indonesian musicians and dancers, who included the IGC Chair, Ambassador Puja; and an impromptu performance by one of the indigenous panelists, Ms. Chukhman of the Kamchatka region in Russia. These performances gave a vivid insight into the vitality and cultural significance of the diverse forms of traditional cultural expression that the Committee was addressing.
Subject to the decision of WIPO General Assembly to renew the IGC’s mandate, the next session of the IGC is expected to take place in February 2008.