Committee Meetings

April 2008

Traditional Knowledge, Genetic Resources and Folklore: IGC to Intensify Work

The Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property Traditional Knowledge, Genetic Resources and Folklore (IGC) met from February 25 to 29. Following the election of a new chairperson, Mr. Jaya Ratnam, who is also Singapore’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, the IGC considered a variety of working formats, including inter-sessional meetings and expert group work as practical steps in advancing its work towards a concrete outcome. The IGC agreed to review formal proposals for enhanced and accelerated working procedures at its next session in autumn 2008.

With regard to traditional cultural expressions, or folklore, (TCEs), the Committee undertook a detailed debate, paying close attention to the interplay between the existing international legal framework and calls for extended or enhanced protection of TCEs. The debate on the protection of traditional knowledge (TK) demonstrated increasing convergence on the role and context of such protection, although some participants pointed to the need for greater clarity of focus. Indigenous participants highlighted the specific character of indigenous knowledge systems. Work on genetic resources issues was informed by complementary developments in other forums, including the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the United National Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The IGC will review concrete proposals for its work in this area at its next session.

In order to focus and intensify work on the protection of TCEs and TK, the IGC drew up proposals to analyze gaps in the protection available under the current international legal framework. These “gap analyses” will be developed through an open commentary process leading up to the next IGC session. This exercise will build on the solid foundation already established by the Committee in developing two new reports on the positions of its members regarding the key issues arising from calls for enhanced protection of TK and TCEs.

WIPO Development Agenda - First Meeting of the CDIP

The Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP) met for the first time from March 3 to 7. The CDIP held detailed discussions on developing a work program for implementation of the WIPO Development Agenda recommendations approved by the General Assembly.

The 45 recommendations adopted by the General Assembly in 2007 are divided into six clusters:

  • A: Technical Assistance and Capacity Building;
  • B: Norm-setting, Flexibilities, Public Policy and Public Domain;
  • C: Technology Transfer, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Access to Knowledge; 
  • D: Assessments, Evaluation and Impact Studies; 
  • E: Institutional Matters including Mandate and Governance; and
  • F:  Others.

These include 19 recommendations for immediate implementation by WIPO and 26 for which the CDIP is required to develop a work program.

At its first session, the CDIP discussed recommendations 2, 5, 8, 9 and 10 in the list of 26 and agreed that the proposed activities, as suitably modified following discussions, would be sent to the WIPO Secretariat to assess the human and financial resource requirements before the next session. In addition, the CDIP reviewed and commented on activities being implemented under adopted recommendation 1 in the list of 19, suggested changes and considered new activities. It was agreed that the WIPO Secretariat would make the necessary modification and furnish a progress report on the adopted recommendations in the list of 19 for the next session of the Committee.

Copyright: Future Work of the SCCR

The Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) met from March 10 to 12. The members decided that the Committee would continue to address issues such as the protection of broadcasting organizations – with a view to concluding an international instrument – and the protection of audiovisual performances, as well as copyright exceptions and limitations.

The Committee was briefed on regional and national activities that were being undertaken by WIPO in order to build understanding of issues relating to the protection of audiovisual performances. WIPO will continue to organize national and regional activities on this issue, and will hold an information meeting on this question in conjunction with the next meeting of the SCCR.

The SCCR also considered a proposal from Brazil, Chile, Nicaragua and Uruguay on limitations and exceptions to copyright and related rights. This was an elaborated version of a proposal originally submitted to the SCCR by Chile in 2005, which called for an analysis of limitations and exceptions as they relate to education, libraries and access to protected works by the visually-impaired. The SCCR called for an information meeting about existing and forthcoming studies on exceptions and limitations at its next session, with a view to preparing a comprehensive work plan on the issue.

To further enhance understanding of the issue, the SCCR requested that WIPO conduct a study on exceptions and limitations in relation to educational activities and distance education, including trans-border aspects. The need for prompt action to improve access to protected works by visually impaired people was emphasized by several delegations. A fourth WIPO study, on exceptions and limitations for libraries, will also be published shortly.

In the framework of a specific discussion on the future work of the Committee, several delegations submitted a proposal to include additional agenda items, namely artists' resale rights, collective management, orphan works and applicable law. Many delegations called on the SCCR to tackle and accelerate work on unfinished business. Others called for the SCCR to focus on exceptions and limitations as a priority. The Chairman of the SCCR, Mr. Jukka Liedes of Finland, said that consideration of the work plan would continue during the next session of the SCCR.

WIPO Assemblies - 2008/09 Program and Budget Adopted

The extraordinary session of the WIPO Assemblies, held on March 31, ended with agreement to adopt WIPO’s program and budget for 2008/09, as well as a 5 percent decrease in fees paid for international patent applications.

The proposed level of expenditure for the 2008/09 biennium is 626.3 million Swiss Francs (SFr). The program and budget 2008/09 was adopted with no prejudice to any adjustments that may be required during the biennium.

The agreement to reduce the international filing fee under the PCT by 5 percent – the fee will fall from SFr 1,400 to SFr 1,330 – and to increase the reduction from 75 percent to 90 percent for countries whose per capita national income is below US$3,000, as well as to Antigua and Barbuda, Bahrain, Barbados, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Oman, Seychelles, Singapore, Trinidad and Tobago and the United Arab Emirates, will be effective from July 1, 2008.

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