February 23, 2007 | By Gwen Hinze

Blogging WIPO: Can WIPO Protect the Public Domain?

WIPO's Provisional Committee on Proposals Related to a WIPO Development Agenda is meeting in Geneva this week to continue discussions about establishing a Development Agenda for WIPO - a set of proposals for measuring the impact of WIPO's work on social and economic development in its member states. Two years after they started, the Development Agenda discussions now involve a wide-ranging set of proposals, including requiring WIPO to recalibrate its technical assistance program (WIPO's practice of advising developing countries on how to set up their IP systems), and to develop mechanisms to protect the Public Domain. The discussions may be obscure, but they are important. The WIPO Development Agenda offers the possibility of creating global intellectual property laws that balance rightsholders' interests with the human rights of the world's citizens for access to medicine and knowledge.

In contrast to the stalling at previous meetings, this week's discussions have proceeded relatively smoothly. Countries have expressed support for, or concerns with, a set of 40 proposals grouped in 5 clusters listed in a table. Proposals have been classified as either "Actionable" (appropriate subjects for further discussion) or "Declarations of General Principles" (which need to be reframed, at risk of being sidelined). The WIPO Chair has enlisted a group of "Friends of the Chair", regional country group coordinators, who have been entrusted with summarizing and redrafting the clusters of proposals into action items. This too, is proceeding remarkably quickly, with a redraft of the most important cluster (Cluster B on norm-setting, flexibilities, public policy and the public domain) apparently getting approval from almost all Member States. For the most part, WIPO Member States have shown an almost unprecedented spirit of cooperation. However, against this backdrop, there has been a strange and perplexing attack against the various proposals on protection of the Public Domain.

Read on for more analysis and notes of days 2, 3 and 4 after the jump.

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