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Archived updates for Thursday, April 13, 2006

WIPO Patent Harmonization Effort Stalls Again

Member states of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) met at an informal session of the Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP) in Geneva from April 10 to 12, 2006 to consider a work program for the Committee. The meeting ended with negotiators being unable to define a work programme for the next formal SCP meeting planned for later this year. That meeting now will not take place.

According to the WIPO press release, "All delegations acknowledged the importance of all the issues raised by the different delegations, and several useful contributions and proposals were submitted with a view to bridging the differences between, on the one hand, those who wanted a larger number of issues to be addressed on an equal footing by the SCP and, on the other hand, those who expressed a preference for an approach limited to fewer issues.>

"The outcome effectively grounds a long-standing push by the developed nations holding most of the world’s intellectual property to harmonise global patent systems through WIPO," writes William New in Intellectual Property Watch on April 12, 2006. "Some officials raised concern that the end of discussion on patent harmonisation could remove a bargaining chip for developing countries seeking major reform of WIPO toward development issues, and other policy changes related to protection of genetic resources and traditional knowledge."

“It’s not like WIPO isn’t doing anything on patents,” Francis Gurry, WIPO Deputy Director General reportedly said. But the SCP meeting “was the work programme on the new issues.”
The matter will be referred back to the WIPO General Assembly at its meeting in September 2006. In the meantime, develeoped countries have already started moving patent harmonization talks outside of WIPO.

“The United States intends to continue to pursue substantive patent law harmonisation discussions in a variety of fora, including in bilateral and plurilateral discussions,” USPTO spokesperson Brigid Quinn reportedly said. “The USPTO, while disappointed that WIPO member States could not agree on a work plan for the Standing Committee on Patents, is not particularly surprised by this result,” she said. “We think that the moratorium that was agreed upon may provide an opportunity for member states to reflect upon the benefits that patent harmonisation could bring for both developed and developing countries and permit the WIPO Secretariat to most effectively focus their limited resources on concrete projects rather than endless discussions.”
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April 07, 2009 3:10 AM  

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