1998 Review of the WIPO-WTO Joint Intiative on TRIPS Implementation

Geneva, December 11, 1998
Press Releases PR/1998/148

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) launched a joint initiative earlier this year to assist the developing countries to meet the January 1, 2000 deadline for implementation of the TRIPS Agreement.

The Directors General of the two Organizations, Dr. Kamil Idris of WIPO and Mr. Renato Ruggiero of WTO, sent joint communications on July 21, 1998, to the Ministers responsible for WIPO and WTO in each of the developing countries concerned. The communication underscored the two Organizations' commitment to help developing countries bring their laws on patents, trademarks, copyright and other areas of intellectual property into line with the TRIPS Agreement, as well as provide for effective enforcement of these laws.

The forms of technical cooperation that are available include assistance in preparing legislation, training, institution-building, modernizing intellectual property systems and enforcement. It was stressed, however, that the joint initiative builds on the existing technical cooperation of the two Organizations. Specifically, as concerns WIPO, the legal-technical assistance provided to the developing countries has always been part of, and continues to be delivered within, the cooperation for development program of WIPO.

Since the launching of the joint initiative, many positive responses have been received from developing as well as least-developed countries. Under the joint initiative, in particular, letters of acknowledgment and requests for assistance were received from 23 countries or territories. It should be kept in mind, however, that this number does not include other countries or territories that have received or are receiving assistance under the on-going programs of WIPO in respect of TRIPS implementation, which amounts to well over 80 developing and least-developed countries for the period of January to November 1998 alone.

Many of the requests received under the joint initiative thus far are comprehensive yet general in nature. Some specific requests have also been received for consultations. In response to these requests, the two Organizations have met and discussed on several occasions the coordination of efforts and, in some cases, the joint handling of specific requests by holding a joint consultation with the requesting country or territory. In addition, a number of missions and joint seminars by WIPO and WTO are being planned for the early part of 1999.

A full assessment of the WIPO's assistance on TRIPS implementation to the developing countries will be prepared in 1999 and will be made available in a WIPO document.