Blogging WIPO's Development Agenda Meeting - Day 2
For 30 years, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has worked primarily to expand the scope of intellectual property protection around the globe. Whether it's bringing patents to countries where previously there were none, or expanding the entitlements of copyright holders in developed countries, WIPO has always started from the premise that more IP is always better for everyone.
That's changing. Countries around the world -- even across the "north-south" divide of developed and developing nations -- are becoming wary of over-protecting intellectual works. Everything from free speech and open source software to the availablity of essential medicines is impacted by runaway legal regimes, and the world is taking notice.
At WIPO, the most concrete expression of this concern has come from a 14-country coalition called the "Group of Friends of Development" (GFoD), which submitted a fantastic proposal at the Development Agenda meetings on the need for IP policy that fosters the economic and social development of countries, not just the development of IP regimes. The proposal states:
"While intellectual property protection may in particular circumstances promote creativity and innovation, it is neither the only way nor necessarily the most efficient or appropriate means for doing so at all times and in all sectors of the economy. Similarly, it is highly questionable that upward harmonization of intellectual property laws, leading to more stringent standards of protection in all countries, irrespective of their levels of development, should be pursued as an end in itself. WIPO must, as a matter of course, examine and address all features of existing intellectual property rights, including the economic and social costs that IP protection may impose on developing and least developed countries, as well as on consumers of knowledge and technology in both the North and the South."
Below the jump are the running notes from Day 2 of the Development Agenda meetings (see Day 1 notes here). Stay tuned -- we'll have more on how these concepts are being received when the last of the "civil society" groups speak and the official meeting proceedings are published.
12 April, 2005
Thiru Balasubramaniam, thiru at cptech.org, Consumer Project on Technology
Gwen Hinze, gwen at eff.org, Electronic Frontier Foundation [GH]
Ren Bucholz, ren at eff.org, Electronic Frontier Foundation [RB]
[NOTE: This is not an official transcript. Any errors and ommissions are regretted.]
Copyright-Only Dedication (based on United States law)
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Niger: After independence, many developing countries introduced pro-development policies. IMF, World Bank policies, etc. WIPO has provided considerable technical assistance to developing countries. It has raised public consciousness on IP. Research initiatives in universities and SMEs. Despite WIPO's involvement, the contribution of IP in these countries is small. In particular:
- involvement of WIPO is piecemeal
- also, never taken into account
- lack of resources allocated by countries
- absence of any IPR development policy at all
What, then, can we expect WIPO to play in this context:
- coordinating activities & cooperation
- working with other UN agencies on development?
* Islamic Republic of Iran:
WIPO shouldn't be limited to promoting IP, but instead view A2K [access to knowledge] as a vital piece of WIPO's responsibility. WIPO should encourage a balanced approach to IP. This organization should be more development-oriented. Iran appreciates WIPO's technical assistance and seminars. However, such contributions should be more in harmony with the requirements of the int'l development community. WIPO should incorporate development issues in all committees.
WIPO has helped many LDCs, especially Arab countries, protect & promote IP.
We hope that any extension of WIPO's work would be thoroughly interrogated to see how it would work, how it might be financed, and how it would work with other UN initiatives.
The establishment of a database will help LDCs find sources of assistance.
We would like to praise the development agenda of this organization characterized by different approaches. We approve of WIPO's work with NGOs and public interest groups.
We would like to thank Jamaica for its intervention on behalf of GRULAC and we associate ourself with its statement.
And also thank Brazil & Argentina for their comprehensive contribution.
Peru co-sponsored the proposal for a development agenda last year because we see IP not as a goal in itself, but as a way to improve society.
In this report the Sec General compared development to human rights. Curiously, there was no mention of IP in this report. There is mention of access to medicines and making use of new technologies.
How do we make WIPO's goals compatible with our more important goals of development and fostering innovation?
Recently, the National IP office of Peru published a document that contains a list of IP interests in the Peruvian context (commissioned for the FTA proceeding). It was apparent that the breadth of Peru's IP-affected industries demands a more nuanced approach to IP and development.
The importance of this session and upcoming sessions is that we must see how WIPO can help countries with national IP systems that go well beyond just protecting IP; in fact, this could even be subordinate to development goals. How do we make IP serve development goals as elaborated in the GFoD proposal? We welcome NGOs and civil society groups in this meeting. We would like to give IP a different focus.
This proceeding shouldn't take away from WIPO's inter-governmental role...
In our view, WIPO and its member states have helped a great deal with IP and development. However, the needs of LDCs continue to grow, and we need to create new models of tech transfer, innovation, and absorption.
The indiscrimnate way that the proposals treat IP obscures the differing strengths of each country in regard to these issues. LDCs goods compete in an unbalanced way with the products of developed countries.
There is no need to create a new forum for these development issues. Instead, we need to examine the long-term goals of WIPO, and ensure that WIPO's remains relevant to member countries' needs.
We endorses partnership program; we have our such work in the Pacific Rim & Asia. We encourage harmonization & prioritization of goals.
Congratulations to the GFoD for introducing and elaborating on the development agenda. In particular, we support the creation of a research & review office.
Development in WIPO terms means an increase in capacity to protect IP. This is very different from our view, and our proposal fixes this misconception. Proposal fixes this after TRIPS was forced on developing countries in 1994. IP is a legal monopoly, but extracting value for the innovator isn't only goal. Monopoly rights are a special incentive that needs to be carefully callibrated by each country.
In bilateral agreements, the power impalance and TRIPS forces LDCs to fold. No longer are developing countries willing to play this role and have this forced on them. The case for strong IP in developing countries is without economic basis. Instead, these monopolies are rent-seeking arrangements.
IP law enforcement is embedded in all legal systems in LDCs -- it is improper and misguided to imagine that IP-enforcement will trump prosecution of other crimes. Therefore technical assistance is something that should be de-prioritized in favor of impact analysis.
WIPO should not limit itself to the blind expansion of IP protections. Expanding its mission scope will revitalize WIPO.
We favor an assessment of WIPO's current initiatives for development. We support proposals of monitoring impacts of technical assistance in LDCs. Promoting wider participation by NGOs/IGOs is a valuable idea that deserves to be implemented. Would like to give a more institutional power to the permanent committee.
Focus on GFoD: The burden should be on members to propose solutions. However, resources are scanty.
Spain is actively committed to working with WIPO so we can have an effective mechanism for building a development agenda. In this regard, have set up a fund to help iber-american dev. activities. Would also like to set up a stable framework for bilateral agreements.
As an LDC, we would like to voice our support for the GFoD. We would like to see more consolidation of existing WIPO efforts.
WIPO should maintain a more balanced position, so the norms established take into account the relationships between countries (social, economic, etc.). Priority should be given to the ability of people to benefit from the scientific progress of IP. Helping small to medium companies and encouraging developing nations to foster tech transfer. We want to move the development dimension to a central pillar of WIPO's work. This is the purpose of the GFoD.
* Russian Federation:
We wish the chair luck in a difficult situation, particularly with the large number of views being expressed. We shouldn't forget how these recommendations affect the IP system and WIPO in particular. We believe that WIPO is working successfully, particularly with regard to the development of systems in ind. countries.
The work at WIPO should be broadened, but should respect the monetary limitations of WIPO. With regard to other entities, we should be wary of creating new bodies to work in development space. Instead, should work on existing entities.
Differences in education, development & technology lead to a challenging task for this body. We want to reiterate that the US proposal is promising.
We align ourselves with the proposal of Italy & group. We are concerned by the GFoD; strong & balanced IP helps facilitate development & tech transfer. In regard to GFoD, we agree with Switzerland -- already do dev work.
The thought that less IP will foster development, however, is as flawed as the notion that IP alone can do so. WIPO framework & treaties don't hinder development or flexibility. We welcome any factual dialogue about this claim.
We would like transparency & a code of conduct. However, we believe that stronger IP does help development.
The justification of IP is that it promotes creativity, production of wealth, reduction of poverty. Therein lies the need for a development agenda.
The UK statement is very welcome.
As to the US statement, the proposal of a database is promising, but we must pay attention to the technical restrictions of countries in Africa & the dangers of bureaucracy.
On the US proposal, it should be viewed in light of the digital divide. Efforts to close the divide should be supported.
We endorse GRULAC statement & thank GFoD.
We endorses Italy & Group B, Luxembourg & EU. We are interested in strengthening existing bodies.
We welcome US proposal; WIPO doesn't do this alone.
* El Salvador:
Nations must enjoy flexibility in rights-adoption.
WIPO is the principal authority in giving technical assistance to developing countries; it needed to broaden this perspective.
Furthermore, there is a need to assign appropriate resources for developing countries. Haven't adjusted yet to the high costs of taking on strong IP regimes.
Fully supports GRULAC & GFoD statements.
We associate ourselves with the Asian group & ASEAN statements. Well-being of country is dependent on IP, but that condition is not sufficient. No need to change WIPO convention, nor to expand duties or agencies. US proposal a positive step.
We ask the US to clarify the mechanism it calls for in its paper.
We would like to refer to other proposals referred to in the meeting. They show the commitment of good will to establish a proper development agenda at WIPO. Three proposals have one common element -- to limit the scope of the DA to technical assistance. Our delegation, of course, rejects this strategy. Our own proposal is concrete, and has specific policy actions.
Our paper presents concrete ways to achieve DA goals. We encourage Member States to make proposals based on the other elements of the Development Agenda.
On the US proposal, we observe that the premise that the partnership would be based from the GFoD perspective, the US focuses on strengthening IPRs. We do NOT share the views expressed in this document. Technical assistance should be tailor-made, appropriate to development needs.
The development dimension is not exhausted in the element contained in the US proposal.
In our view, technical assistance should be based on the real needs and interests of Member States and should be managed and provided in a transparent, neutral fashion. There should be an assessment mechanism such as the kind we have proposed.
To sum up, we want greater effectiveness in the application of technical assistance. Therefore, the tools should not be based on the tools of developed countries, but on the needs of LDCs.
The UK proposal is based on many the recommendations of the UK IPR Commission. The Development Agenda is not limited to technical cooperation. However, it appears that the UK only addresses the technical cooperation aspect. The UK backs a mandate change for WIPO to better address development needs. It also suggests that the PCIPD should be the sole forum for the discussion of these issues.
Patent harmonization initiatives as supported by the UK have been rejected in the previous SCP and the WIPO General Assembly.
Re Technology transfer - consideration should be taken up in WTO. We don't agree.
On Mexican proposal, discussion of UN MD. We deplore the fact that this is a closed discussion. In Mexico's paper, we deplore the fact that Mexico's approach is closed in their mention of the MDGs.
It contains two categorical statements that IP is crucial for development.
We all know that industrialized countries have adopted patent protection only when they achieved a certain level of development.
Another paragraph attempts to minimize our proposal to GA in September. Also attempts to minimize the purport of the resolution on that proposal.
Reference to Casablanca meetings - We don't think that this is a good example of a meeting. This meeting was not open to all Member States.
In sub-paragraph two there is no mention of the TRIPS Agreement which imposed obligations on developing countries.
It's not just developing countries that are affected by this -- both developed and developing countries are affected.
Argentina doesn't see any connection between IP and providing meaningful employment for young people - sub-paragraph 3(8)
Argentina would like to clarify that IPRs in themselves do not acheive stability or balance. IPRs are tools to be utilized in beneficial ways.
We do not share the view that "diffusion" of IP in developing countries should just point to benefits or opportunities. We should not just describe benefits, but also costs. IP rights are not absolute. We need to disseminate information about both the rights of intellectual property rightsholders and the rights of consumers. It is important that training not just promote IP but also promote understanding and respect of third-party rights and protection of the rights.
* Indonesia: We would like to associate ourselves with the statement of Singapore on behalf of ASEAN. WIPO has been instrumental in developing the IP system in Indonesia and using the PCT system.
We appreciate WIPO's technical assistance. Many things need to be done to encourage domestic competition, technology transfer.
Important to remember that IP by itself is not sufficient for development. [...]
We associate ourselves with the statement of the B Group and we fully support the statement of Luxemborg on behalf of the EU.
As for GFoD -- Sweden shares their concerns that more dev. focus is needed.
We would like to make some preliminary remarks on the proposals presented by other countries.
The most positive aspect of the American proposals and others is that we have the engagement of three countries. It is very good to see engagement. These proposals will be duly examined in my capital.
However, we are pleased to see certain language in each proposal, such as the recognition that IP is not the only way to enhance development, and that a multi-faceted approach is needed.
The Mexico proposal states, "there is a tendency to associate corruption and bribery as impediments to adequate IP implementation." This seems to be an association with these.
There's the argument, "WIPO is not a core development agency like UNCTAD and UNDP." This isn't disputed by GFoD, but rather we hoped to add greater depth of analysis and expertise. This is a broadening of WIPO's perspective.
The US proposal argues, "the GFoD proposal will create new bodies." But what the GFod actually says is that the development dimension should be incorporated into *all* aspects of WIPO's work programme, including current committees. The US proposal of partnership offices seems like only a match-making initiative between donors and recipients.
The GFoD does not believe that the development dimension can be dealt with solely through technical cooperation. We do not make proposals on technical cooperation in a vacuum but rather, they exist in a wider context. This parternership proposal recognizes the need for change. Partnership office would be novelty within the organization, so perhaps it is at least a recognition of the need for change within WIPO.
However, the US outsources the responsibility of funds and donors. Also, we don't see how the database will make the general thrust of WIPO's work more development-oriented.
The US proposal says that the development dimension should be incorporated into norm-setting. This is something Brazil can agree upon.
As to the Mexico proposal, in beginning of that document, there is a partial and very selective citation of development goals. In fact, the mill. agreement is much broader, and Mexico focuses primarily on the IP-strengthening portion of it. Argentina reminds everyone that the mill. decl. also talks about access to medicine in LCDs.
There was no legitimacy in the Casablanca process which was referred to by the Mexican proposal. The Casablanca process is something we would not like to repeat.
Mexico also supports some kind of valuation system for gauging compliance with int'l IPR standards for countries that are beneficiaries of technical assistance. But we don't know how that would benefit development.
There is the premise in the Mexican document that developing countries don't see the benefits of IP. Predisposition to assuming that the average person in the developing country is an ignorant person. The goal of WIPO, in that formulation, is to "enlighten" those countries to the benefits of IP.
Mexican proposal essentially endorses current global system -- or a less flexible version thereof.
As to the United Kingdom proposal, it appears sympathetic to the cause of development by relying on the recommendations of the UK IPR Commission. There are a few elements of the proposal that might merit certain comment.
Certain flexibilites can be granted to some but not all developing countries -- aspect of graduation -- this is a cause of concern.
However, there are also positive references: the UK proposal states that IP alone can't guarantee that a country will attain its objectives. It also states that individual circumstances must be taken into account when setting policy.
Where the document shows shortcomings is in the solutions section. The solutions are very narrow, and the UK basically reverts to the same kind of proposal put forward in the US committee: reinvigorating and focusing the PCPID.
The UK document also defends patent law harmonization. This is not compatible with the development agenda. As we have seen, the net effect is a rise in the minimum amount of protection around the world. This is not a development-friendly position.
On transfer of technology, UK notes that discussion of transfer of technology and IP should be shifted to the WTO -- so far these discussions at the WTO have not progressed further. Transfer of technology is part of the balance that countries should strive for. This should be fully discussed within WIPO.
* African Union:
NEPAD - new economic partnership for economic development
Awards for best African inventors, which has spurred dynamism for IP culture.
* Russian Patent Organization:
First, jointly with ICSTD,
a. have been working to understand the implications of stronger IP
b. assisting countries in implementation & adoption
c. highlight flexibilities in TRIPS
Second, working on open source and bridging digital divide
Third, Oct. 2004 seminar on bridging digital divide.
Fourth, implementing mandate from Sao Paolo by examining policies that are aimed at improving tech transfer, enforcement of IP, protecting genetic resources, etc.
Resolution: time-limited body to make proposals on IP & public health, encourage that bilats take into account the agts for public health in TRIPS
Doha declarations -- important to the goals of public health:
1. accessible & transparent info on patent status of medicines.
2. basic look at patentability of medicines
* ACP - African Caribbean & Pacific States:
Harbors majority of LDCs, & therefore welcomes GFoD proposals
As others note, it is vital to show respect for the needs, expectations & limitations of LDCs
* League of Arab States:
Welcomes assistance from WIPO to examine existing laws and plan new ones to expand IP in Arab states. Has strengthened its relationship with WIPO.
* European Patent Office:
Represent 30 member states, is principal patent-granting arm of EU. While dev. has only recently been introduced into IP agenda, our own countries have already been active here.
* Electronic information for libraries:
Theresa Hackett - libraries foster a market for information - even entertainment goods.
Need objective impact assessments of policies on libraries.
* International Chamber of Commerce:
Small & large businesses worldwide. ICC believes that protection is a necessary condition for development, but must be bolstered by others.
* International Federation of Pharmeceuticals Manufacturers:
Shouldn't think of this as a north-south debate - people in the south benefit well from IP as well.
Focus on India: many Indian companies have already called for more protections.
Should focus on adjusting patent system, not reducing their protection.
Reps 1,500 musical producers in 78 countries around the world. Even in small countries.
Copyright is beneficial all over the world, for artists of every size.
* International Federation of Filmmakers Associations:
Industry comprised of small and medium companies; we rely on strong IP to survive. We are really the friends of development.
Crisis in Argentina, film in A/V industry. Major economic crisis in 2004, 74 movies were released. Had to strengthen protections to spur protections for creators.
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