[Ip-health] WIPO Assemblies to tackle several key unresolved issues

Mirza Alas mirzalas at gmail.com
Tue Oct 6 03:43:19 PDT 2015

*TWN Info Service on Intellectual Property Issues (Oct15/05) 5 October 2015
Third World Network*


* WIPO Assemblies to tackle several key unresolved issues*

Geneva, 5 October (K M Gopakumar) – The Fifty-fifth series of meetings of
the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Assemblies taking place
from 5 to 14 October at the WIPO headquarters in Geneva is expected to deal
with several important unresolved issues.

During the next 10 days WIPO Member States will discuss matters related to
governing and institutional bodies, program, budget and oversight matters,
WIPO Committees and the international normative framework, assemblies of
the various WIPO treaty bodies including the Patent Cooperation Treaty,
Madrid System on trademarks, Hague System on industrial designs, Lisbon
System on appellations of origin and geographical indications and staff

Last year, the WIPO General Assembly failed to reach any decision on four
areas viz. the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and
Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore, Design Law Treaty,
the Standing Committee on Copyrights, and Matters Concerning External
Offices and the establishment of WIPO External Offices.

In view of the lack of consensus on these issues the General Assembly is
expected to find a way forward on these issues at the current session.

*Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and
Folklore (IGC)*

This year there are three proposals before the General Assembly regarding
the way forward. The first proposal is from the African Group that seeks to
convert the IGC into a permanent standing committee. Originally the IGC was
set up as a temporary committee and its mandate was renewed every two years.

The second proposal is from the Holy See, Kenya, Mozambique, New Zealand,
Norway and Switzerland. This proposal proposes an IGC work program for two
years consisting of three sessions of the Committee in each year that will
make recommendations to the General Assembly in 2017 regarding the future
course of action.

The third is from the United States of America (US) that proposes the
discontinuance of the IGC. The US proposal consists of three decision
points: “(i) Not to renew the mandate of the IGC for the 2016/2017
biennium; (ii) That Program 4 should continue to provide seminars and to
conduct studies; and (iii) That an ad-hoc, cross regional group of experts
(an Ad-Hoc Experts Working Group) shall be established, to determine what,
if any problems exist and what, if anything, can be done at the
international level to address any such problems and to address the
questions and matters referenced above”.

The US proposal is largely seen as a pressurising tactic and there is an
expectation for the renewal of the IGC mandate.

*Design Law Treaty *

There is no specific recommendation from the Standing Committee on Law of
Trademark, Industrial Design and Geographical Indications (SCT). The
Central European and Baltic States (CEBS), the European Union and Group B
(several developed countries) are pushing for a decision to hold a
diplomatic conference to conclude the Design Law Treaty (DLT). Even though
the treaty is projected as a procedural law treaty it is a fact that it has
implications on the substantive law, particularly on the grace periods,
multiple applications and licensing of designs. WIPO observers point out
that the WIPO Governing Bodies or the concerned standing committee did not
take any explicit decision with regard to the initiation of a text-based

Developing countries especially the African Group feels that the text is
not mature enough for a Diplomatic Conference. Further, the African Group
has two specific proposals with regard to DLT. First is the inclusion of
the provision on technical assistance in the treaty. Second is the
inclusion of a specific provision in DLT for the disclosure of traditional
knowledge or traditional cultural expression in any industrial design
application to prevent the misappropriation of traditional designs.

During the 32nd session of the SCT the African Group introduced the textual
proposal under Article 3 (1) (a) of the draft DLT.  Group B also introduced
a draft decision to convene the Diplomatic Conference during the 32nd SCT.
However, this proposal did not find any consensus. The 33rd Session of the
SCT also ended without making any specific recommendation with regard to
the Diplomatic Conference on DLT.

*Standing Committee on Copyrights (SCCR) *

The General Assembly is to consider two issues related to copyrights. First
is the decision with regard to holding a diplomatic conference to conclude
a treaty on the protection of broadcasting organisations. Second is the
work towards an appropriate international legal instrument or instruments
(whether a model law, joint recommendation, treaty and/or other forms),
with the target to submit recommendations on limitations and exceptions for
libraries and archives as well as on educational and research institutions
and persons with other disabilities.

There is an existing General Assembly mandate to conclude a treaty on
protection of broadcasting organisations. However, the mandate is
restricted to protect only traditional broadcasting and does not include
new forms of broadcasting such as webcasting.

However, the last two sessions of the SCCR failed to make any
recommendations to the General Assembly. The General Assembly is expected
to provide guidance with regard to the process on two issues.

*External Offices and financing Lisbon Agreement*

Even though there is an informal document circulated by the WIPO
Secretariat there is no consensus with regard to the establishment of
external offices. In the absence of any consensus on the issue the Program
and Budget Committee (PBC) referred the issue for the consideration of the
General Assembly. The General Assembly is expected to resolve the issue or
to set a process to review the differences.

Apart from the New York UN liaison office, WIPO currently has external
offices in Singapore, Japan, Brazil, China and Russia. These offices were
started without the approval of WIPO governing bodies; however the demand
from Member States to open more external offices and its budget
implications led to a division among the WIPO membership on this issue. To
date there is no consensus with regard to the number and location of new
external offices.

Another important issue to be considered by the General Assembly is the US
proposal to the Assemblies of Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) and Madrid
Union (trademark protection) to decide whether the financial resources from
these two services can be used to fund the Lisbon Union (Geographical
Indications).  This is a response of the US for the exclusion of full
participation of the recently concluded Diplomatic Conference to finalise
the Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement on Appellations of Origin and
Geographical Indications.  Full participation, i.e. with voting rights, has
been granted only to the Lisbon Agreement’s member countries. The US
attempt to participate in the diplomatic conference failed because the
Lisbon Agreement Members rejected the proposal of full participation of
non-Lisbon Agreement members.

Many WIPO Member States are of the view that the US proposal may set a bad
precedent of blocking allocation of resources from the PCT and Madrid
systems, a major source of revenue for WIPO for other activities.

The US also submitted another proposal that the WIPO Director-General
should submit the recommendations of the administrative arrangements of the
Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement for the WIPO General Assembly’s
approval. According to an observer the move is politically motivated with
the intention of impeding the implementation of the treaty.+

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