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TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Oct 05/7 )

8 October 2005
 

Report 6 on WIPO General Assembly

WIPO creates 'Provisional Committee' for Development Agenda and decides on how to proceed with SPLT

The WIPO General Assembly on 3 October night reached agreement on two issues that have preoccupied and divided the WIPO General Assembly - how to take the Development Agenda Initiative forward and the future work plan on the Draft Substantive Patent Law Treaty (SPLT).

It adopted decisions on these two issues formally on 4 October.

On the Development Agenda, members agreed to establish a "provisional committee" to take forward the process of the Intergovernmental Inter-sessional Meetings (IIM) and report back to the 2006 General Assembly.

On the future work plan of the Draft SPLT, the Assembly agreed to hold a 3- day informal open forum in Geneva in the first quarter of 2006 on
issues that have been raised in the draft of the SPLT or that Member States wish to include in the draft SPLT.

After that, a 3-day informal SCP (standing committee on patents) session will be held in Geneva to agree to  a work program for the SCP.  Thereafter, a 5-day ordinary session of the SCP will be held, to commence work on the work program of the SCP agreed at the informal sessions of the SCP.

The 2006 WIPO General Assembly will consider the progress made with a view to determining a work plan for the following year.

Below is a report on these two decisions.  This is the final report in the series.


With best wishes
Martin Khor
TWN


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WIPO creates 'Provisional Committee' for Development Agenda and decides how to proceed with SPLT work

By Sangeeta Shashikant, Geneva, 4 October 2005

Agreement was reached on 3 October night on two issues that have preoccupied and divided the WIPO General Assembly -- how to take the Development Agenda Initiative forward and the future work plan on the Draft Substantive Patent Law Treaty (SPLT).

After more than a week of intense negotiations, the WIPO General Assembly on 4 October morning formally adopted decisions on these two issues.

On the Development Agenda, members agreed to establish a "provisional committee" to take forward the process of the Intergovernmental Inter-sessional Meetings (IIM) and report back to the 2006 General Assembly.

The decision on the Development Agenda states that:

"Considering the need to make progress in integrating the development dimension in WIPO broadly so that concrete and practical results can be achieved in the most timely and efficient manner, the General Assembly hereby decides:

- To constitute a Provisional Committee to take forward the IIM process to accelerate and complete the discussions on proposals relating to a WIPO Development Agenda and report with any recommendations to the General Assembly at its September 2006 session.

- In the interim, and without prejudice to the provision of technical assistance, the PCIPD will cease to exist.

- The work of the Provisional Committee shall not prejudice the activities of the other WIPO bodies in discussing all matters relevant to development.

- The Provisional Committee shall have two one-week sessions, and the deadline for submission of new proposals shall be the first day of the first session of the Committee."

The Permanent Committee on Cooperation for Development Related to IP (PCIPD) is an existing committee on cooperation for development that deals with technical cooperation. During the negotiations, the developed countries wanted to shift the venue of the Development Agenda issue to the PCIPD but this was opposed by most developing countries, especially the Friends of Development Group of 14 countries.

On the future work plan of the Draft SPLT, the Decision states that Members agreed that a 3- day informal open forum would be held in Geneva in the first quarter of 2006 on all issues that have been raised in the draft of the SPLT or that Member States wish to include in the draft SPLT.

The various issues will be discussed with contributions from speakers reflecting a balance of geographical representation and perspectives, and technical expertise. Member States may submit proposals for issues and speakers for the forum until November 15, 2005.

The Decision adds that "the Chair of the WIPO General Assembly will conduct consultations on the draft program with all interested Member States and the Director-General will publish the final program in January 2006."

The Decision further states that following the informal open forum, a 3-day informal SCP session will be held in Geneva to agree to a work program for the SCP, taking into account the discussions of the open forum. WIPO will, in the measure possible, provide financial assistance to facilitate the participation of developing countries.

The Decision also states that an ordinary session of the SCP for a duration of 5 days will be held, to commence work on the work program of the SCP agreed at the informal sessions of the SCP.

It adds that the 2006 WIPO General Assembly will consider the progress made with a view to determining a work plan for the following year.

While many developing-country delegates were not happy with the final outcome relating to the Development Agenda, they felt that the Decision enabled the Development Agenda initiative to move forward, at least for another year.

The negotiations on this item had been deadlocked since it was first discussed at the General Assembly last Wednesday. Intensive informal meetings were held on the matter last Thursday and Friday evening and most of Saturday.

The dispute was basically over the "forum" to further discuss the proposals and recommendations.

Most developing countries favoured the renewal of the IIM process begun by the 2004 General Assembly.

Group B (developed countries) wanted to shift the discussions to the PCIPD which has so far only focused on technical assistance. They proposed that its mandate can be expanded and its name changed, if necessary.

Group B, during informal consultations on Saturday, initially proposed that the PCIPD be replaced by a "Permanent Committee on Development" (PCD). Then it proposed that the PCIPD be replaced by a "Committee on IP and Development" (CIPD). Its proposal however suggested that the Development Agenda will be only one of the issues (others include technical assistance, training and cooperation) that will be discussed in the Committee.

These proposals were not agreeable to many developing countries, as they did not want the Development Agenda initiative to be discussed in a permanent committee which also dealt with other technical assistance matters.

India suggested the setting up of an ad-hoc task force and this proposal received wide support from other developing countries, although the developed countries did not favour this approach.

During the informal meetings on Monday afternoon, there was an attempt to link the resolution of the Development Agenda issue to the outstanding issues on the work plan relating to the Draft SPLT.

The Swiss delegation on behalf of Group B said that it would not negotiate on the basis of the Chairman's draft text which proposed the setting up of an ad-hoc Committee on Development to discuss the Development Agenda proposals. Group B insisted that discussions should be based on its proposal to replace the PCIPD with the Committee on IP and Development (CIPD).The Group wanted instead to proceed with discussions on the SPLT work plan.

This was widely believed to be a tactical move by Group B to have a "package deal" on the two issues. Either it would first make progress on the SPLT and then dictate its terms on the Development Agenda, or else it could assess what it got out of the SPLT and link the results to what it would give on the Development Agenda.

At this juncture, Argentina followed by Brazil, Iran and South Africa indicated that they were not willing to proceed with the discussions on the SPLT, as the Development Agenda was not resolved. Brazil said that it would only discuss the Chair's text as the Chair had a mandate to prepare a text.

Eventually, a compromise was struck, to create a "provisional committee" to take over the IIM process. In the interim, the PCIPD will cease to exist although not affecting the provision of technical assistance to developing countries. In any case, the PCIPD only meets about once every two years. Since the PCIPD meeting was held in April this year, the PCIPD is not expected to meet any time soon.

This is the first time that such a provisional committee has been created in WIPO. It is unclear to some delegates why this solution was acceptable to the developed countries although they objected vehemently to the idea of an ad-hoc type Committee. Some delegates do not see any difference between the two bodies.

Other delegates are of the view that an ad hoc (Latin phrase which means "for this [purpose]") Committee would indicate that it was established for a specific purpose. A "provisional committee" suggests a temporary committee.

Some developing-country delegates were satisfied that the Preamble of the Decision provides strong language on "the need to make progress in integrating the development dimension in WIPO broadly" with the intention to achieve "concrete and practical results in the most timely and efficient manner", which did not exist in the Chair's text that was being discussed.

It also speaks about "accelerating and completing" the discussions within the two one-week sessions when it meets next year and "report with any recommendations" to the 2006 General Assembly.

The General Assembly during a plenary session Monday afternoon also adopted a Decision on the treaty on the protection of the rights of broadcasting organizations.

The decision 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.).

The 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.

 


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