Report on WIPO general assemblies
Apart from important budget/audit matters, there were three substantive issues discussed at the 2005 WIPO General Assemblies. The last few days were spent in closed “informal” sessions to hammer out agreements. All agreements were formally adopted by WIPO member states on 5 October 2005. With the report EDRI was also adopted as accredited observer to all the WIPO meetings.
1. How to proceed with discussions on a development agenda for WIPO.
A new committee, known as the Provisional Committee, will take charge of completing discussions on the outstanding proposals relating to a WIPO Development Agenda. The Committee will have two one-week sessions and will report to the General Assembly in September 2006. The deadline for submission of any new proposals shall be the first day of the first session of the Committee.
During this time, the Permanent Committee on Cooperation for Development (PCIPD) will cease to exist. (In practice, this makes no difference, because the PCIPD is not due to meet in 2006 anyway).
Hopefully the new Committee can continue substantive discussions on Member State proposals and will not get bogged down in issues of procedure. Civil society NGOs should maintain their presence in this new forum to ensure that the development agenda is cross-cutting and meaningful.
2. Whether to recommend a diplomatic conference (a high-level negotiation) for a Treaty on the Protection of Broadcasting Organisations
The Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) will hold two additional meetings to discuss the draft treaty text. The SCCR meetings will try to agree on a text so that the 2006 WIPO General Assembly can recommend the convening of a diplomatic conference in December 2006 or in 2007.
This is a compromise. Some countries wanted the 2005 General Assembly to already recommend a diplomatic conference. On the other hand, some developing countries didn’t want a reference to a possible date for a diplomatic conference, before an agreement could be reached on whether to have a conference or not. One delegate commented that this could be a very undiplomatic conference! So the pressure remains for a Casting treaty. Opponents of a treaty have a lot of work to do for the next SCCRs (probably November 2005 and May 2006).
3. To progress work on the harmonisation of patent law, so-called Substantive Patent Law Treaty (SPLT).
There will be a three-day, informal open forum in Geneva in the first quarter of 2006 on all issues related to the draft SPLT. The forum will be balanced in terms of geography, viewpoints and technical expertise. This will be followed by a five-day meeting of the Standing Committee on Patents (SCP) and a further three-day informal session of the SCP to agree on a work programme for the committee. The SCP will report to the 2006 General Assembly.
WIPO was criticised in 2005 for organising regional consultations that were not open or did not reflect a range of viewpoints.
News report by the independent news source IP Watch (03.10.2005)
Assemblies of the Member States of WIPO : Forty-First Series of Meetings
WIPO press releases
Member States Agree to Continue Discussions on Development (04.10.2005)
General Assembly Decides to Accelerate Work on the Protection of Broadcasting Organizations (03.10.2005)
Member States Agree on Work Plan for the Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (04.10.2005)
(Contribution by Teresa Hackett, EDRI-observer eiFL, Ireland)