Residents of 56 Nations and Members of Hundreds of NGOs Sign Petition to Open Meetings on Intellectual Property and the Developing World

Geneva - When the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) earlier this month shut out many public interest groups from two April meetings about the impact of patent, copyright and related regimes on the developing world, many civil society groups greeted the news with concern.

Most of the groups barred from the meetings, which are to focus on whether WIPO should adopt a "Development Agenda," are public interest organizations with special expertise on issues of economic development. Without the input of these groups, the meetings can do little to further WIPO's understanding of how patents, copyright, and related rights affect developing nations.

Seeking a more balanced discussion of the Development Agenda, two Brazilian activists, Pedro de Paranagua Moniz and Pedro AD Rezende, as well as the Electronic Frontier Foundation's European Affairs Coordinator, Cory Doctorow, took action: they produced an open letter to WIPO on this issue and solicited comments on the Internet.

As a result, this week over 800 individuals and groups, including EFF, signed an open letter to WIPO urging it to allow more groups to participate in these historic meetings. Residents of 56 different nations signed on, along with members of non-government organizations (NGOs) ranging from a Brazilian AIDS health group to Yale University. The letter, called the "WIPO Manifesto for Transparency, Participation, Balance and Access," asks that public interest NGOs be allowed to participate in the Development Agenda meetings as ad hoc observers and calls on WIPO to provide assistance in creating a global regime that facilitates open access to knowledge.

"WIPO is undertaking a long-overdue and halting journey from a place where industrial interests meet to safeguard their marketplace advantages, to a place where the UN's humanitarian values hold center stage," said Doctorow. "This letter is the latest step in the important campaign to refocus WIPO on providing effective technical assistance that meets the real needs of its developing country members."

The open letter was delivered to Dr. Kamil Idris, Director General of WIPO, on March 23, 2005, with more than 800 signatories, and it is still open for signature.


Cory Doctorow
European Affairs Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Gwen Hinze
International Affairs Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation

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