Member States Agree on Work Plan for the Standing Committee on the Law of Patents

Geneva, October 4, 2005
Press Releases PR/2005/426

Member states of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) agreed today on a work plan for talks on the draft Substantive Patent Law Treaty (SPLT) which aims to simplify and achieve greater convergence among national and regional patent laws and practices. The draft SPLT covers a range of basic legal principles that govern the grant and validity of patents in different countries.

The decision calls for a 3-day informal open forum to be held in Geneva in the first quarter of 2006 on all issues that have been raised in the draft SPLT or that member states wish to include in that draft. These issues will be discussed with contributions from speakers "reflecting a balance of geographical representation and perspectives and technical expertise". Member states may submit proposals for issues and speakers for the forum until November 15, 2005. The Chair of the WIPO General Assembly, Ambassador Enrique Manalo of the Philippines, will conduct consultations on the draft program with all interested member states. The final program will be published by the Director General in January 2006. A three-day informal session of the Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP) will be convened shortly after the open forum to agree on a work program – taking into account the discussions in the open forum - for the SCP. Thereafter, an ordinary session of the SCP will be held to initiate this work program. The WIPO General Assembly will consider the progress made in September 2006.

"This decision will enable member states to resume their discussions on the topic," said WIPO Deputy Director General, Mr. Francis Gurry, who oversees WIPO's work relating to patent law. "The procedure adopted by the General Assembly will allow member states to hold a concrete debate on many important issues with a view to clarifying and advancing the work of the SCP," he added.

The decision to establish a work plan for the SCP with regard to the draft SPLT follows an impasse on how to advance the work of the SCP. While delegations recognized the importance of the work of the SCP in its previous session held on June 1 and 2, 2005, and emphasized that the work on patent law harmonization should be progressed taking into account the interests of all parties, the committee did not reach a conclusion on its future work program. While some member states favored giving priority to the harmonization of four prior-art related issues and to defer discussion of other issues of substantive patent law pending resolution of that initial package of issues, others believed that a reduced set of provisions would exclude from the discussions certain areas of interest to them (for example, general exceptions, provisions on the transfer of technology and on the protection of public interest issues, such as public health, biodiversity and nutrition).

For more information please contact the Media Relations & Public Affairs Section at WIPO: Telephone: (41-22) 338 81 61 or 338 95 47; e-mail: