TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Oct 05/6)

8 October 2005

Report 5 on WIPO General Assembly

WIPO agrees to postpone decision on WIPO Broadcasting treaty

At informal consultations, WIPO members agreed on 3 October to postpone the decision on the holding of a diplomatic conference on the protection of broadcasting organizations to the 2006 General Assembly (GA).

This follows a week-long debate and intensive discussions on whether the GA this year should launch the diplomatic conference in early 2006, to
finalize and adopt the treaty on the protection of Broadcasting Organizations.

Below is a report on this development.  It was published in the SUNS (South North Development Monitor).

With best wishes
Martin Khor (TWN)


WIPO Assembly postpones decision on WIPO Broadcasting treaty

By Sangeeta Shashikant (TWN), Geneva, 3 October 2005

Member states of the World Intellectual Property Organization agreed Monday 3 October (during closed-door informal meetings) to postpone the decision on the holding of a diplomatic conference on the protection of broadcasting organizations to the 2006 General Assembly (GA).

This follows a week-long debate and intensive discussions on whether the GA this year should launch the diplomatic conference in early 2006, to finalize and adopt the treaty on the protection of Broadcasting Organizations.

The WIPO General Assembly heard divided views on 28 September when the Agenda item was discussed, between Members that wished to hold a diplomatic conference on the protection of broadcasting organizations in 2006 and those that felt that discussions on the treaty had not yet matured sufficiently to warrant a diplomatic conference .

It has finally been agreed by Member states that "Two additional meetings of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) will be scheduled to accelerate discussions on the Second Revised Consolidated text (SCCR/12/2 Rev. 2) and the Working Paper (SCCR/12/5 Prov.)."

India had suggested that the words "and other proposals" be added at the end of the line but this was rejected by some developed countries.

It was also agreed that "These meetings shall aim to agree and finalize a Basic Proposal for a treaty on the protection of the rights of broadcasting organizations in order to enable the 2006 WIPO General Assembly to recommend the convening of a Diplomatic Conference in December 2006 or at an appropriate date in 2007".

The draft decision reportedly agreed to in the informal meetings is expected to be adopted later by the WIPO GA.

On the other two issues pertaining to the Development Agenda and the Draft Substantive Patent Law Treaty (SPLT), there is as yet no agreement and closed-door informal consultations are expected to continue Monday afternoon. These consultations follow similar meetings that began on Friday evening and continued until Saturday evening.

With regard to the Development Agenda, the Chair circulated a text Monday morning which is to be the basis of discussions Monday afternoon during the informal meetings. The Chair's proposal essentially states that the consideration of DA proposals submitted by member states will take place in "two meetings of an ad hoc [transitory] Committee on Development consisting of all Member states and a report prepared by 31 August 2006 on development.

It further states that without prejudice to the provision of technical assistance, there will be no separate sessions of the Permanent Committee on Cooperation for Development Related to Intellectual Property (PCIPD) while these issues are being considered by the ad hoc [transitory] Committee. The

GA will include this issue in its session in September 2006 to consider the report of the ad hoc [transitory] Committee. It also adds that "To facilitate discussions in the Committee, which is essentially a member driven initiative, the International Bureau of WIPO will provide requisite assistance and support to this ad hoc [transitory] Committee."

The Chair's text is essentially a combination of the various texts that have been put forward by the different delegations during the informal consultations on Saturday.

The Group B (comprising developed countries) and the European Community (EC) are not in favour of renewing the IIM process (set up at the last General Assembly to discuss the Development Agenda) and want to shift discussions to the PCIPD which traditionally deals with technical assistance. The EC has made a turnaround in its position since the last IIM session that was held in July, where it was in favour of renewing the IIM process to take the development agenda initiative further and to even discuss a limited set of issues. At that session, it was primarily the US and Japan that were in favour of shifting the discussions to the PCIPD and terminating the IIM process.

Most of the developing countries are in favour of renewing the Intergovernmental Inter-sessional Meetings (IIMs) to discuss the proposals that have been submitted and form recommendations on how to integrate the development dimension in WIPO's activities, for consideration of the 2006 General Assembly.

The Indian delegation in an attempt to bridge the differences suggested the setting up of an ad hoc task force on development. In a clarification note that was circulated and referred to, India stated that the PCIPD was set up in 1999 by the merger of two bodies i. e. the Permanent Committee on Copyrights (PCC) and the Permanent Committee on Industrial Property (PCIP). No specific mandate was given to the PCIPD in its first session held from 31 May to 4 June 1999 or the subsequent meetings held in 2001, 2002 and April 2005. It was clear that the PCIPD was meeting on an average of once in two years.

The note also stated that the IIM when set up by the General Assembly in 2004, was to hold its meeting in conjunction with the meeting of the PCIPD for various unstated reasons including the facilitation of participation from developing countries, as some of them are sponsored by WIPO.

It also states that many developing countries feel that the work of the IIM is not complete and that many important issues including the Plan of Action for incorporating the Development Agenda in norm-setting activities for WIPO is still to be finalized. On the other hand, Group B countries and a few others find that the IIM has fulfilled its mandate by transmitting its report to the GA of 2005. A solution is needed to be found which addresses both concerns including having an arrangement which allows for more structured discussion wherein the critically important issues of development are addressed and there is resolution of various development issues alongside better fiscal discipline in the arrangements for holding the Dialogue for Development.

In light of this, India proposed that the consideration of proposals submitted by Member States for the Establishment of a Development Agenda for WIPO continue during the period of October 2005 to September 2006 and that the consideration will be held in an ad-hoc Task Force on Development consisting of all Member states and a report to be prepared by 31 August 2006 to be considered by the 2006 GA. The role and mandate of the PCIPD will be included in this Committee and that no separate sessions of the PCIPD will be held while these issues are being considered by the Ad-hoc Task Force.

The clarification note states that in case the PCIPD meetings have to be held in 2005 and 2006, they can be alongside the Task Force on Intellectual Property and Development.

The proposal by India received wide support from developing countries.

Group B presented a proposal on the DA which essentially is about replacing the PCIPD with a "Permanent Committee on Development (PCD)", which will meet in two one-week sessions and the PCIPD will cease to exist. "The IIM process will be continued in the PCD to accelerate and complete the discussions on the proposals relating to a WIPO Development Agenda that have emerged from the IIM process and report with any recommendations to the General Assembly in 2006".

Group B also proposed that the PCD encompass all issues relating to IP and development. It also states that the discussions "shall not be limited to issues relating to technical assistance and training" and "without prejudice to the work in other WIPO bodies".

This proposal was essentially a reiteration of Group B's position all along that PCIPD can be given a more specific mandate and the name could be changed, to address concerns that had been raised frequently - that is, the PCIPD is a forum to discuss technical assistance matters. This proposal was not well received by many countries which were not satisfied with a permanent body that essentially dealt with technical assistance issues discussing the Development Agenda issues, which covers all aspects and activities of WIPO.

Another proposal that was put forward by Group B on Saturday afternoon to address the concerns of developing countries was to replace the PCIPD with a "Committee on Intellectual Property and Development"(CIPD). It proposed that the CIPD would meet in "two one-week sessions annually". Essentially, it follows the earlier Group B proposal but expands it further by expressly indicating that CIPD's activities shall include ( a) Development issues (IIM process), ( b) Cooperation and ( c) Technical Assistance and Training.

It further states that the General Assembly shall assess annually the progress in discussing the development issues mentioned in ( a) and decide whether the work on this item has been completed.

Many developing country delegations were not happy with the words "annually", which seemed to indicate that it was a permanent body. Some were suspicious of the inclusion of a paragraph at the end of the proposal which states that the "CIPD will have a dedicated International Bureau and secretariat staff, within existing resources, servicing it so that the discussions are focused through an agenda and the conclusions are properly recorded", as they felt that it was a way to manipulate discussions on the Development Agenda.

Pertaining to the matter of the establishment of a new work plan for the Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP) in respect of the Draft SPLT, there appears to be more convergence, but discussions on this matter have yet to be finalized.

The latest Chairman's text proposes that an informal open forum would be held for 3 days in Geneva in the first quarter of 2006 on all issues related to the work of the SCP. The various topics will be discussed with contributions from speakers reflecting a balance of geographical representation and perspectives, and technical expertise. Member states may submit proposals for topics and speakers for the forum until November 15, 2005.

It also proposes that a two-day informal open-ended working group of the SCP will be held in Geneva soon after the forum to agree on a work program of the topics, taking into account the discussions of the open forum.

It further suggests that a session of the SCP will be held for a duration of 5 days and it will commence work on the program agreed at the working group. Thereafter, the GA of September 2006 will consider the progress made with a view to determining a work plan for the following year.

This text is expected to be the basis of discussions during the informal consultations on this matter later Monday afternoon.

The General Assembly has to finalize its work Monday to enable the preparation of the draft GA report Tuesday and the final adoption of the report to take place on Wednesday.