[A2k] NGOs express concern over WIPO's activities on IP enforcement

Sangeeta ssangeeta at myjaring.net
Thu Dec 1 06:23:20 PST 2011

NGOs express concern over WIPO's activities on IP enforcement

Ramesh Shankar, Mumbai
Thursday, December 01, 2011, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]
Expressing concerns over the World Intellectual Property Organization
(WIPO)'s activities on IP enforcement, a group of 45 civil society
organizations across the world have demanded that the WIPO should urgently
make publicly available all information (e.g. participants and speakers¹
list, presentations, list of documents distributed, outcome of the
meetings), with regard to its activities in the area of IP enforcement.

In a letter to WIPO director general Francis Gurry, these groups have
demanded that WIPO should review its partnership with industry related
stakeholders and take measures to ensure that its enforcement activities are
evidence based, objective, free conflicts of interests and undue influence
of the industry related stakeholders.

The NGOs also asked the WIPO to ensures that all its enforcement activities
take a balanced approach, do not undermine existing flexibilities;
comprehensively addresses development and public interests considerations
and takes into account the socio-economic realities of countries and also
ceases to push for IP enforcement on the grounds that it protects public
health and safety.

Expressing concern over lack of transparency, the NGOs said that despite the
adoption of Rec. 1 and 5, little information is provided on WIPO¹s website
on technical assistance activities undertaken by WIPO. For instance in the
Annex of WIPO/ACE/7/2 WIPO provides a list of activities it has undertaken
in the area of IP enforcement however no information is available on the
nature of such activities including participants lists, lists of speakers,
content presented, outcome of the meetings etc. The lack of transparency is
unbecoming of an intergovernmental organization and undermines
implementation of Development Agenda in WIPO, the letter said.

It further said that WIPO¹s approach to enforcement is unbalanced, lacking a
development and public interest orientation. The limited information
available on certain WIPO¹s enforcement activities suggests that its
activities are aimed at protecting corporate interests rather than ensuring
a balanced debate that addresses the development dimension, protects public
interests and takes into account the socio-economic realities of beneficiary

On the issue of public health and safety, the civil society groups said in
its letter said that the link between IP enforcement and public health and
safety has been promoted extensively with the aim of frightening people into
accepting inappropriate standards of IP enforcement agenda. In reality, the
link between IP enforcement and public health and safety is questionable and
tenuous at best. In fact an IP enforcement framework will not deliver
effective protection of public health as IP rights are not granted on the
basis of the quality and safety of the product. Instead inappropriate
standards of IP enforcement are likely to hinder public health particularly
access to affordable medicines.

The issue of substandard, poor quality and unsafe medicines (also often
labeled as ³counterfeit medicines²) is not within the mandate of WIPO but a
responsibility of the World Health Organization. Moreover dealing with the
problem of ³counterfeit medicines² requires a focus not on IP enforcement
but on building regulatory capacity and ensuring access to affordable
medicines, the civil society groups said. 

Some of the groups who have signed the letter include AIDAN; CENTAD (both
from India); Act UP Paris; AGIHAS Latvia; All Nepal Peasants' Federation;
Alianza Social Continental Capitulo Perú; Berne Declaration; Centre for
Health, Human Rights and Development Uganda; Oxfam, etc.


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