Search the Archives           Subscribe           About this News Service           Reader Comments

Archived updates for Thursday, September 08, 2005

WIPO Sees Silver Lining in Harmonization Failure

Failure to agree on a proposal to harmonise national patent laws by World Intellectual Property Organisation members “is not necessarily the end of the world for WIPO,” Francis Gurry, WIPO deputy director general, reportedly said in a press briefing at WIPO headquarters on September 7, 2005. Although the trilateral countries contribute significantly to WIPO’s funding, a lack of harmonisation would not have much impact on the organisation’s revenues, Gurry said.

According to William new writing in the September 7, 2005 issue of "I/P Watch," WIPO has been under pressure to promote a “trilateral” harmonization proposal by the European Union, Japan, and the United States, as the United States and Japan have signalled a willingness to take the harmonization effort outside WIPO. Still, differences persist between the three I/P power centers. For instance, on prior art, the United States does not recognise prior oral disclosures, while the European Patent Convention does, plus the two sides have different approaches to the treatment of applications that were previously filed but have not been published, according to an official. On the grace period, the United States offers 12 months while the European Patent Convention does not the same kind of grace period.

Gurry surmised that the real problem may be “legislation fatigue” after a decade that has seen “an orgy of policy issues” related to intellectual property rights in different international bodies, such as WIPO and the World Trade Organization, and at the regional and national levels. This is “not necessarily a bad thing,” Gurry said, because it could shift the policy focus to a concrete debate about rights. “I would say it’s stress caused by success, not stress caused by failure,” he said.

The increased attention to intellectual property issues has led to a two-sided polict debate: rightsholders targeting piracy and technology, and consumers seeking greater flexibility from strict measures. But those perspectives may converge once the “clouds of ideology” are cleared away, Gurry argued, as those who do not want encroachment on the public domain may recognise that accomplishing this begins with a better system for intellectual property protection.
    (0)comment(s)     translate     More Updates     Send