Corante

AUTHORS

Donna Wentworth
( Archive | Home | Technorati Profile)

Ernest Miller
( Archive | Home )

Elizabeth Rader
( Archive | Home )

Jason Schultz
( Archive | Home )

Wendy Seltzer
( Archive | Home | Technorati Profile )

Aaron Swartz
( Archive | Home )

Alan Wexelblat
( Archive | Home )

About this weblog
Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development, and technological innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying and the law, and more.

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this weblog are those of the authors and not of their respective institutions.

What Does "Copyfight" Mean?

Copyfight, the Solo Years: April 2002-March 2004

COPYFIGHTERS
a Typical Joe
Academic Copyright
Jack Balkin
John Perry Barlow
Benlog
beSpacific
bIPlog
Blogaritaville
Blogbook IP
BoingBoing
David Bollier
James Boyle
Robert Boynton
Brad Ideas
Ren Bucholz
Cabalamat: Digital Rights
Cinema Minima
CoCo
Commons-blog
Consensus @ Lawyerpoint
Copyfighter's Musings
Copyfutures
Copyright Readings
Copyrighteous
CopyrightWatch Canada
Susan Crawford
Walt Crawford
Creative Commons
Cruelty to Analog
Culture Cat
Deep Links
Derivative Work
Detritus
Julian Dibbell
DigitalConsumer
Digital Copyright Canada
Displacement of Concepts
Downhill Battle
DTM:<|
Electrolite
Exploded Library
Bret Fausett
Edward Felten - Freedom to Tinker
Edward Felten - Dashlog
Frank Field
Seth Finkelstein
Brian Flemming
Frankston, Reed
Free Culture
Free Range Librarian
Michael Froomkin
Michael Geist
Michael Geist's BNA News
Dan Gillmor
Mike Godwin
Joe Gratz
GrepLaw
James Grimmelmann
GrokLaw
Groklaw News
Matt Haughey
Erik J. Heels
ICANNWatch.org
Illegal-art.org
Induce Act blog
Inter Alia
IP & Social Justice
IPac blog
IPTAblog
Joi Ito
Jon Johansen
JD Lasica
LawMeme.org
Legal Theory Blog
Lenz Blog
Larry Lessig
Jessica Litman
James Love
Alex Macgillivray
Madisonian Theory
Maison Bisson
Kevin Marks
Tim Marman
Matt Rolls a Hoover
miniLinks
Mary Minow
Declan McCullagh
Eben Moglen
Dan Moniz
Napsterization
Nerdlaw
NQB
Danny O'Brien
Open Access
Open Codex
John Palfrey
Chris Palmer
Promote the Progress
PK News
PVR Blog
Eric Raymond
Joseph Reagle
Recording Industry vs. the People
Lisa Rein
Thomas Roessler
Seth Schoen
Doc Searls
Seb's Open Research
Shifted Librarian
Doug Simpson
Slapnose
Slashdot.org
Stay Free! Daily
Sarah Stirland
Swarthmore Coalition
Tech Law Advisor
Technology Liberation Front
Teleread
Siva Vaidhyanathan
Vertical Hold
Kim Weatherall
Weblogg-ed
David Weinberger
Matthew Yglesias

LINKABLE + THINKABLE
AKMA
Timothy Armstrong
Bag and Baggage
Charles Bailey
Beltway Blogroll
Between Lawyers
Blawg Channel
bk
Chief Blogging Officer
Drew Clark
Chris Cohen
Crawlspace
Crooked Timber
Daily Whirl
Dead Parrots Society
Delaware Law Office
J. Bradford DeLong
Betsy Devine
Dispositive
Ben Edelman
EEJD
Ernie the Attorney
FedLawyerGuy
Foreword
How Appealing
Industry Standard
IP Democracy
IPnewsblog
IP Watch
Dennis Kennedy
Rick Klau
Wendy Koslow
Kuro5hin.org
Elizabeth L. Lawley
Jerry Lawson
Legal Reader
Likelihood of Confusion
Chris Locke
Derek Lowe
Misbehaving
MIT Tech Review
NewsGrist
OtherMag
Paper Chase
Frank Paynter
PHOSITA
Scott Rosenberg
Scrivener's Error
Jeneane Sessum
Silent Lucidity
Smart Mobs
Trademark Blog
Eugene Volokh
Kevin Werbach

ORGANIZATIONS
ARL
Berkman @ Harvard
CDT
Chilling Effects
CIS @ Stanford
CPSR
Copyright Reform
Creative Commons
DigitalConsumer.org
DFC
EFF
EPIC
FIPR
FCC
FEPP
FSF
Global Internet Proj.
ICANN
IETF
ILPF
Info Commons
IP Justice
ISP @ Yale
NY for Fair Use
Open Content
PFF
Public Knowledge
Shidler Center @ UW
Tech Center @ GMU
U. Maine Tech Law Center
US Copyright Office
US Dept. of Justice
US Patent Office
W3C


In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

Copyfight

« How to Fix the Orphan Works Problem | Main | Penalizing computer users »

March 25, 2005

United States v. WIPO's Development Agenda

Email This Entry

Posted by

In the aftermath of India being forced/coerced to adopt patent law that quite literally kills people as a condition for joining the World Trade Organization (WTO), US representatives at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) are moving to counter efforts by developing countries and numerous non-government organizations (NGOs) to bring public-interest considerations -- like protecting human health -- to its decision-making.

Specifically, representatives have reportedly been circulating a draft paper that attempts to reframe the problem, arguing that WIPO is already addressing development issues and proposing merely a "WIPO Partnership Program" -- an Internet-based database to bring together "donors and recipients of IP development assistance."

In sharp contrast, the Development Agenda proposed by developing countries and NGOs urges WIPO to move beyond the narrow view that any and all IP protection is beneficial, and choose instead to act strategically to spur economic growth, foster innovation, and help humanity.

Read below for a report on the US paper by Sangeeta Shashikant, published this week in the SUNS (South-North Development Monitor). For background, see WIPO 2.0: A Declaration for the Future of IP.

US draft paper counters Development Agenda in WIPO
By Sangeeta Shashikant, Geneva, 23 March 2005


A draft proposal by the United States titled "Establishment of a Partnership Program in WIPO" for a forthcoming World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) meeting on the Development Agenda in April is circulating among some delegations in Geneva.

Stating that WIPO already has a "robust development agenda" in all its work, the draft paper by the US clearly ignores and sidesteps the demands of the proponents of a "development agenda" in WIPO.

Those demands, as elaborated in the Development Agenda proposal by Brazil and Argentina (WO/GA/31/11, dated 27 August 2004) and later co-sponsored with 12 other developing countries, include an amendment to the WIPO Convention (1967), a reorientation of the content of present proposals in treaties now being negotiated at WIPO, the establishment of new pro-development treaties and a change in WIPO's technical assistance activities.

In contrast to this reform programme, the US paper proposes that WIPO continue to "promote intellectual property around the world" as its way of fostering development. Its only new suggestion is the creation of a "WIPO Partnership Program", an Internet-based database to bring together "donors and recipients of IP development assistance."

The proposed database would have sections on partners, countries or regions, and success stories. A WIPO partnership office would evaluate requests for assistance and seek partners to fund and execute the projects.

The draft paper is expected to form the basis of the US position at the forthcoming WIPO inter-sessional inter-governmental meeting on the Development Agenda on 11-13 April. The meeting had been mandated by the WIPO General Assembly last October, in which the issue of a WIPO development agenda had figured prominently.

Argentina and Brazil had then presented a formal proposal for the establishment of a Development Agenda for WIPO, in which development would be established in all the work and bodies of the organization. Co-sponsored by 14 countries, it was also supported from the floor by the Asian and African Groups and many individual developing countries.

The US draft paper states that "WIPO already has a robust 'development agenda' in all of its work for a long time, delivering high-quality development activities to Member States on a demand-driven basis." In the past decade, WIPO's budget has tripled, greatly expanding WIPO's role in IP (intellectual property) development assistance. "WIPO has played and must continue to play, an important role in fostering development through the promotion of intellectual property around the world."

The paper puts forward the view that WIPO is already fulfilling its function as a UN agency, thus implying that reform is unnecessary. It says that WIPO's contribution, as a specialized agency of the UN, "to development is made through promoting creative intellectual activity and technology transfer, has a very important, albeit somewhat limited, role to play in fostering economic development and cultural diversity".

WIPO's role as a UN agency and in achieving the UN's development goals is defined narrowly by the paper, which states that WIPO is not a core development agency like the United Nations, UNCTAD or the UNDP. The 1974 Agreement (between WIPO and the UN), "while encouraging coordination and cooperation with the UN and its organs and agencies (in Article 2), also seeks to avoid overlapping or conflicting relationships with other UN bodies that would result in waste or inefficient expenditure of UN resources," says the paper.

"WIPO's contribution to overall the UN development goals is best achieved not by diluting WIPO's role within the UN system but, rather, by strengthening WIPO's intellectual property expertise and its IP-related development assistance."

The US proposal thus advocates that WIPO should concentrate only on promoting intellectual property and should leave development concerns to other UN agencies.

This is clearly a counter to the Development Agenda proposal of Brazil, Argentina and others that made the case that "as a member of the UN system, it is incumbent upon WIPO to be fully guided by the broad development goals that the UN has set for itself, in particular in the Millennium Development Goals.

"Development concerns should be fully incorporated into all WIPO activities. WIPO's role, therefore, is not to be limited to the promotion of intellectual property protection. WIPO is accordingly already mandated to take into account the broader development-related commitments and resolutions of the UN system as a whole."

The Brazil-Argentina proposal asks that the WIPO Convention (1967) be amended to ensure that the "development dimension" is unequivocally determined to constitute an essential element of the Organization's work program. It called on WIPO to act immediately to incorporate a "Development Agenda" in its work programme.

In contrast to the systemic reforms called for by the developing countries, the US paper proposes the creation of a "WIPO Partnership Program". This Internet-based tool will "bring together all stakeholders to match specific needs with available resources and to amplify the developmental impact of intellectual property development assistance" says the proposal.

The proposed partnership program would have two features: a "WIPO Partnership Database" and a "WIPO Partnership Office".

The database would bring together donors and recipients of IP development assistance, and have three sections: a "Partners Section" (that would include IGOs, NGOs, IP offices, private sector groups, universities, charities and others wishing to assist developing countries on IP issues); a section on "Country/Region" (where developing countries and their institutions would state their specific needs for IP assistance requests); and a "Success Section" that lists successful partnership matches.

The partnership office would evaluate requests for assistance and seek partners to fund and execute projects. WIPO's international Bureau would maintain the website and database as well as the Partnership Office.

According to several developing-country officials as well as experts on IP and development, the US draft paper does not address the concerns raised by the proponents of the WIPO development agenda.

Nor does it address the concerns raised in the "Geneva Declaration on the Future of the World Intellectual Property Organization" issued last September by over 500 eminent persons such as scientists, economists, legal experts, consumer advocates, and health activists (including two Nobel Laureates), and in the NGO statement endorsed by 25 organizations in support of the Development Agenda initiative.

The US draft proposal is viewed as an attempt to set aside the Development Agenda initiative in charting a new course for WIPO and incorporating economic, social and cultural development within its mission, instead of its present single-minded pursuit of stronger forms of intellectual property rights without consideration of the negative effects.

A major concern in the developing countries' Development Agenda initiative is the norm-setting activities taking place in various WIPO technical committees, which require developing countries to take on IP standards and obligations that are far beyond what is required under the TRIPS Agreement, at a time when they are still struggling with implementation of their TRIPS obligations.

The developing countries want from WIPO and its many technical committees outcomes that preserve public interest flexibilities and the policy space of Member states to apply IP standards according to their development needs and in a way that enables development.

The Development Agenda proposal also recognizes that access to information and knowledge are essential elements in fostering innovation and creativity in the information age. It thus takes issue with the addition of new layers of IP protection (as is taking place in WIPO), particularly to the digital environment as
this obstructs the free flow of information and hampers efforts to set up new arrangements for promoting innovation and creativity.

The Development Agenda proposal is also critical that existing IP agreements and treaties have failed to promote a real transfer of technology to developing countries and calls for corrective measures, including clear provisions on technology transfer to be included in treaties currently under negotiation in WIPO.

The Development Agenda also called for WIPO's technical assistance programme to ensure that national IP laws are tailored to meet each country's level of development and that developing countries are trained to the use of the flexibilities (oriented to public objectives) in existing IP agreements.

According to experts on IP and development, WIPO would need to be reformed in two ways, if it is to incorporate the "development dimension" into its activities. The first aspect includes reviewing existing activities and treaties that have been
negotiated or that are on the negotiating table in WIPO to ensure that these treaties do not restrict or prevent developing countries from having access to tools such as information and technology that they need to develop.

The review should include the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and the proposed Substantive Patent Law Treaty and the Treaty on the Protection of Broadcasting Organizations, which are now being negotiated.

The other aspect of a Development Agenda, according to the experts, would be a "positive agenda" for development, which could include the creation of new treaties, for example, on access to knowledge, on access to technology and on minimum limitations and exceptions in relation to copyright and patent protection.

Several developing-country officials, as well as independent experts and NGOs involved in IP issues, are of the view that the forthcoming April meeting provides developing countries with a vital opportunity to advance their development agenda.

However, as the US draft proposal shows, it will be an uphill battle to convince the major developed countries of the need for even a little change, let alone a systemic reform in WIPO.

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Laws and Regulations


COMMENTS

1. dev on March 25, 2005 7:23 PM writes...

How was India forced or coerced? Please hyperliink the opening inflammatory statement.

Permalink to Comment

2. Donna Wentworth on March 25, 2005 7:29 PM writes...

That's a fair critique. Here's a link -- you can decide for yourself whether "forced" crossed the line: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/24/international/asia/24aids.html?

Permalink to Comment

3. Alexander Wehr on March 26, 2005 1:54 PM writes...

I'll state the blatantly obvious..

A lot of faith based neocon wackos realize the US lacks the efficiency required in manufacturing and the resources necessary to maintain our position as the world's wealthiest nation.. so they want to turn knowledge into a commodity which would then offset the continual general decline of exports.

The way of thinking is simplistic, childish.. exactly at their level.

Permalink to Comment


EMAIL THIS ENTRY TO A FRIEND

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):




RELATED ENTRIES
Is There an Independent "Right of Performance"?
Did the Director-General of WIPO Steal Employee DNA Samples?
More Evidence People Don't Learn from the Past
Phoenix (music) Supports Free Use
Robo-Papers "Flooding" Academic Conferences
Apple Appeals
Who's Taking All That Money?
Pointing the Troll Finger in the Correct Direction