August 2010

SCT’s work advances

WIPO’s Standing Committee on the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications (SCT) met from June 20 to July 2, 2010, to consider issues relating to industrial design law, the protection of state names against registration or use as trademarks, grounds of refusal for trademark registration, and collective and certification marks.

Delegates expressed broad support for advancing work on possible convergences in industrial design law and practice. The Committee also agreed to discuss the issue of trademarks and the Internet at its next meeting in November 2010. On the issue of the protection of names of states against registration or use as trademarks, it was agreed to circulate a questionnaire on Member States’ law and practice in that field to establish a basis for possible future work on the issue.

Non-traditional marks: rules defined

A Working Group of the Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks, meeting in late June 2010, defined the rules governing the representation of non-traditional marks - such as hologram, motion, color, position and sound marks - in trademark applications. This important step is the first explicit reference to non-traditional marks by an international treaty and indicates widespread acknowledgement that the subject matter for brands goes beyond the traditional signs for which protection is usually sought. These rules are to be formally considered for adoption by the Singapore Treaty Assembly in September 2010.

While the actual number of non-traditional trademark registrations remains modest, this development is a clear sign that the IP community is responsive to the evolving needs of the branded goods industry.

Technical symposium focuses on access to medicines

A technical symposium organized by the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and WIPO on July 16, 2010, spearheaded a factual analysis of core issues relating to how populations in developing countries can obtain the medicines they need.

The one-day event on “Access to Medicines: Pricing and Procurement Practices” held at the WTO’s Geneva headquarters provided a platform for international agencies to share information, practical experiences and views on the pricing and procurement of medicines, two key determinants of access.

The event was organized in the context of ongoing cooperation between the WHO, WTO and WIPO, which includes the implementation of the WHO Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property.

Experts break new ground in talks on traditional cultural expressions (TCEs)

The first meeting of an intersessional working group (IWG) mandated by WIPO’s Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property, Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) in May 2010, took place from July 19 to 23, 2010. This new format - the first such mechanism for the IGC’s negotiations - resulted in an intense and productive drafting session on TCEs, considered to be the most mature of the three subjects covered by the IGC.

Technical experts from WIPO Member States, indigenous communities and non-governmental organizations worked side by side and actively contributed to discussions in informal and open-ended drafting groups which each worked on specific articles. Revised versions of all the articles were presented to, and discussed by, the IWG as a whole and will be considered by the IGC in December 2010.

The IWGs are designed to support the IGC’s negotiations by providing legal and technical advice and analysis. They have no mandate to take decisions or adopt texts, but the work of the first IWG will contribute richly to the evolution of the IGC’s work.

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