Thursday, June 12, 2008

Proposal for the implementation of development agenda recommendation online

Some of the preparatory documents for the next WIPO Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP) are now online. The Information Document Related to Adopted Recommendation 10 focuses on the implementation of the development agenda recommendation to:
assist Member States to develop and improve national IP institutional capacity through further development of infrastructure and other facilities with a view to making national IP institutions more efficient and promote fair balance between IP protection and the public interest. This technical assistance should also be extended to sub-regional and regional organizations dealing with IP.
It outlines various programs of technical assistance "that have been, are being or could be implemented by WIPO in the future."

While the overwhelming focus of these programs is on "training" government officials in intellectual property, strengthening collective management organizations and intellectual property offices, and encouraging the private sector in the exploitation of intellectual property, there are also a few points that stand out. The document proposes:

  • "Increased emphasis in [training] sessions on how to develop a balanced IP system,"
  • that legal assistance include "Advice with regard to accession to, and implementation of, international treaties, including regional agreements, taking into account the development priorities and objectives and available flexibilities." (emphasis added)
  • "Support for regional and sub-regional initiatives to develop regional and sub-regional legislation in the areas of IP, Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Cultural Expressions (for example in OAPI and ARIPO),"
  • "Organization of strategic seminars or fora for policy makers and senior IP administrators to discuss and share their views on emerging IP issues such as traditional knowledge, copyright in the digital environment, the role of IP in economic development, flexibilities in IP system, IP and Public Health, strategic use of patent information, evolving role of IP administrations in national development, etc.," and the "Inclusion in such fora of more topics relating to IP protection, public policy objectives and public interest," (emphasis added)
The document also notes, in its proposals with regard to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), that:
SMEs are not only creators but also users of IP. Thus the program assists them not only to better protect, manage and exploit their innovations and creativity but also to make it accessible to others.
Interesting also are the documents' various references to the 'user community', which at times seems to refer to the users of IP offices and at other times the users of IP.

Given the general emphasis within the document on the usual style of WIPO technical assistance, with the emphasis on promoting the protection of IP and strengthening collective management organizations, which generally serve to export funds to rich countries, the proposals contained in this document cannot be seen as an indication of a sea change at WIPO. Rather, the document contains a few small but potentially important steps in recognizing the complexity of interests in the international IP system.

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