Search the Archives           Subscribe           About this News Service           Reader Comments

Archived updates for Wednesday, March 02, 2005

WIPO Member LDCs Have Exclusive Meeting on Development Agenda

According to an article in the February 23, 2005 issue of Bridges Weekly Trade Digest, selected World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) members met in Casablanca, Morocco on February 15-16 at the invitation of Director-General Kamal Idris to discuss the continuation of the global patent harmonisation process.

Many developing countries -- most of which were not invited -- were heavily critical of the meeting. They noted that Brazil was the only country among the 14 proponents of a 'WIPO Development Agenda' (see BRIDGES Weekly, 8 September 2004) invited to the event, and suggested that this may have been an attempt to make support for the development agenda appear to be an isolated point of view. The other Southern representatives in attendance were from countries that have been passive in WIPO debates on the development agenda, or from states that are already committed by bilateral or regional trade agreements to intellectual property standards that go beyond those required by the WTO, such as Chile and Morocco.

During the consultations, the approximately 20 countries and patent offices in attendance came up with an action plan for moving forward on patent harmonisation, identifying six issues to be dealt with in an accelerated manner: prior art, grace period, novelty, inventive step, sufficiency of disclosure, and genetic resources. The meeting did make mention of the need to pursue a "robust, effective and actionable WIPO Development Agenda." Brazil was the only country to register opposition to the statement adopted at the end of the meeting.

Although the last meeting of the WIPO General Assembly gave the Director-General the mandate to hold informal consultations on patent harmonisation, several developing country officials argue that the nature and process of the Casablanca consultations may have exceeded the mandate's original purpose. They say that the meeting's lack of transparency and disproportional representation of developing countries (especially of supporters of the development agenda) call into question the legitimacy of the resulting course of action as a roadmap for the WIPO General Assembly to move forward on patent harmonisation.

Industrialised countries have recently been pushing the WIPO secretariat to move forward on patent harmonisation (see BRIDGES Weekly, 9 February 2005). According to James Love, director of CPTech, an NGO focusing on IP issues, "the US, the EU and Japan are beating up on the WIPO Secretariat, insisting that it do what it can to get developing countries to do what they want on patent harmonisation, otherwise they'll effectively take the Patent Cooperation Treaty out of WIPO by setting up a rival system..." The Patent Cooperation Treaty, which regulates the registration of global patents, is WIPO's main source of revenue. While this is unlikely to happen in the near future, the pressure on WIPO has definitely been stepped up in recent months. It remains to be seen how the WIPO secretariat will respond to the criticism from all sides mounting on its doorsteps.

The parties participating in the Casablanca meeting included: Brazil, Chile, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Morocco, Russian Federation, Switzerland, the UK, the US, the African Regional Industrial Property Organisation, Eurasian Patent Office, European Patent Office, African Intellectual Property Organisation and the EU. The meeting was chaired by Dr. R.A. Mashelkar, Director General of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and Secretary of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research in India.

The "Statement Adopted at the End of Informal Consultations in Casablanca on February 16, 2005" is discussed here.

Corresponding talks by developed countries in Washington, DC are discussed here.
    (0)comment(s)     translate     More Updates     Send