2002 Session of WIPO Assemblies Conclude
The highlights of the meeting that took place from September 23 through October 1, 2001, include:
– Member states considered the procedures for the appointment of a Director General in 2003 and decided to convene a special session of the General Assembly in mid-2003 to endorse the nomination of a Director General by the WIPO Coordination Committee, which is scheduled to meet next March. The General Assembly decided to adopt this accelerated procedure for the appointment of a Director General in light of the overwhelming support expressed by delegations for the re-election of Dr. Kamil Idris, the incumbent Director General. Some 112 delegations expressed support for the re-election of Dr. Idris for a second six-year mandate. The special session is expected to be held in May or June 2003. Dr. Idris’ current mandate expires on November 30, 2003. For more information please see PR/2002/325.
– The delegation of the People’s Republic of China announced that they would be hosting a WIPO summit on intellectual property from April 24-26, 2003. The theme of the summit, organized by WIPO in cooperation with the Government of People’s Republic of China, is “Intellectual Property in the Knowledge Economy”. The summit, which will be attended by heads of state, other senior government officials as well as the private sector, will demonstrate how the intellectual property system enables all countries to tap into their unique sources of intellectual capital and to reap the benefits of their creativity and innovation. The summit will serve as a high-profile forum to emphasize the importance of intellectual property on the global agenda and highlight the need for concerted international efforts to ensure respect for intellectual property.
– The General Assembly noted a report on the future development of the international patent system. The report which was produced within the context of WIPO’s Patent Agenda, launched in September 2001 to spearhead discussions on the future development of the patent system, was considered an important first step in identifying the logistical and policy challenges confronting the international patent system. The report was compiled following consultations with member states and stakeholders on ways to improve the current international framework of the patent system, which today consists of a patchwork of national and regional arrangements for obtaining and enforcing patents. The goal of the WIPO Patent Agenda is to develop an international patent system that is more user-friendly and accessible, and provides an appropriate balance between the rights of inventors and the general public, while at the same time taking into account the implications for the developing world. Director General, Dr. Kamil Idris, welcomed the wide-ranging and frank dialogue which took place and emphasized that the report was one of many elements in an evolving process aimed at establishing a “roadmap” for the future development of the international patent system. The Director General reminded member states of the objective of WIPO Patent Agenda, that is, “a coherent orientation for the future evolution of the international patent system, ensuring that the work undertaken by the international bureau and by the member states was directed towards achieving a common goal.” He further underlined the need for a “balance between the rights of inventors and the general public, while at the same time taking into account the implications for the developing world.” Future work in this area will involve an in-depth study on the implications for developing countries of the development of such a system. This issue will remain on the agenda of the WIPO General Assembly. This activity is not intended to replace or undermine existing activities in WIPO such as those relating to reform of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) and patent law harmonization.
– The Assembly of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) Union approved a number of measures designed to further streamline and simplify the international patent application filing system under the PCT, an international treaty which facilitates the process of obtaining patents in up to 117 countries. The measures include an enhanced international search and preliminary examination system, the introduction of a new system of designating countries in which patents are sought, and a fee reduction for international applications filed in electronic form. Member states also noted progress in the PCT automation project (the IMPACT (Information Management for the PAtent Cooperation Treaty) project and in the PCT electronic filing project (the PCT-SAFE (Secure Applications Filed Electronically) project. The success of both projects is of the highest priority for the Organization in light of the rapid expansion of the PCT system. The deployment of such systems promises to generate lower costs for applicants who will also benefit from more efficient services. The new IMPACT system is expected to be ready for initial deployment at the end of 2002. Progressive business deployment will follow in 2003. Deployment of the PCT-SAFE system is scheduled to start in the first half of 2003 and be fully operational by the end of 2003. For more information, please see UPD/2002/175.
– Member states decided to consolidate the Organization’s work on enforcement into a single Advisory Committee on Enforcement, in charge of global enforcement issues, that will cover both industrial property and copyright and related rights. The mandate of the Committee’s work will be technical assistance and coordination and should focus on broad-based cooperation with relevant organizations, as well as the private sector. It will also undertake public education initiatives, as well as national and regional technical assistance programs.
– A decision was taken to convene a possible ad hoc informal meeting relating to the protection of performers in their audiovisual performances in the first half of next year. This meeting would assess possible ways of resolving the outstanding issues on which no agreement could be reached in the Diplomatic Conference on the Protection of Audiovisual Performances in December 2000. The remaining issues deal with the question of how the performers’ rights are acquired by the producers, by law or agreement (please see PR/2000/248). Member states also agreed to keep the issue of reconvening a Diplomatic Conference on Audiovisual Performances on the agenda of the WIPO Assemblies for 2003. For more information, please see PR/2002/327.
– The inaugural sessions of the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) Assembly and of the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT) Assembly took place after the WCT entered into force on March 6, 2002 and the WPPT on May 20, 2002. At their first meeting, the Assemblies unanimously adopted decisions relating to their rules of procedure, election of their officers, and to their future work. Two special rules of procedure were adopted which will allow certain intergovernmental organizations to participate in the Assemblies as contracting parties of the two treaties and to have the right to vote.
– The General Assembly adopted most of the recommendations of the Standing Committee on the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications (SCT) regarding internet domain names (See UPD/2002/166). Specifically with respect to domain names corresponding to identifiers which are the names and acronyms of international intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), it adopted the SCT’s recommendation that the scope of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) be broadened to provide protection for these identifiers. Member states also asked the secretariat to transmit the recommendation on the names and acronyms of IGOs to ICANN. Regarding country names, the General Assembly noted that a number of issues remained outstanding, and reverted those to the SCT for further discussion
– Broad support was expressed for the inclusion of Spanish into the language regime of WIPO’s international trademark registration system known as the “Madrid System” which currently includes French and English. Delegations noted that the inclusion of Spanish as a third working language of the Madrid system would benefit trademark owners generally by enhancing the system making it a more attractive option for countries outside the system and by promoting trade relations. Depending on the outcome of further consultations with member states, the secretariat is to prepare concrete proposals for a decision on this matter in September 2003.
– The General Assembly also authorized the Director General to move forward with the process of streamlining and simplifying WIPO’s governance and constitutional structure to reinforce the transparency, efficiency and effectiveness of the Organization. These changes include the abolition of the WIPO Conference and the formal adoption of a Unitary Contribution System and Changes in Contribution Classes to reflect the current practice which more equitably takes into account the different economic circumstances of WIPO member states. The relevant WIPO-administered treaties will also be amended to make provision for holding ordinary sessions of the WIPO Assemblies on an annual rather than a biennial basis. Under current arrangements, the Assemblies meet once a year, but each alternate year is considered an extraordinary session.
– Member states approved the Program Performance Report for the 2000-2001 biennium and noted the comprehensive and transparent reporting approach. It was the second performance report covering a whole biennium, since the introduction in 1998 of results-based management at WIPO. This document informs WIPO member states of results achieved by WIPO along the criteria established in the program and budget. The report highlighted, in particular, some of the most important achievements within WIPO’s key strategic directions, outlined in the Director General’s Vision and Strategic Direction of WIPO, including demystification of intellectual property, modernization of intellectual property infrastructure, the Digital Agenda, and responses to new challenges, such as the future evolution of the international patent system and issues related to genetic resources, traditional knowledge and folklore. Member states also noted the Program Implementation Overview, which contained information on the implementation of major activities during the first six months of the new biennium 2002-2003.
– For the first time, member states of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) admitted national non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as observers to the Organization, enabling them to fully participate in all discussions at WIPO. The four NGOs that were admitted on Friday are: American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA, based in USA), Asociación Nacional de Intérpretes (ANDI, Mexico), Associação Brasileira de Emissoras de Rádio e Televisão (ABERT, Brazil), and Association Bouregreg (BOUREGREG, Morocco). For more information, please see PR/2002/328.
– Member states approved the construction of a new administrative building (providing a minimum of 560 working places and 280 underground parking spaces) to extend the Organization’s premises, as well as a conference hall (providing 650 seats) adjacent to its present Geneva headquarters. This paves the way for the beginning of construction work early next year. Once completed (target date 2007) this complex will allow the Organization to re-group most of its staff in a large building complex, just off the Place des Nations. Currently, WIPO rents office space in nine different buildings in Geneva.. For more information please see PR/2002/326 and PR/2002/321.
The meetings of the Assemblies, which bring together the 179 member states of the Organization, were chaired by Ambassador Bernard Kessedjian, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva. Mr. Zigrid Aumeisters, Director, Patent Office of the Republic of Latvia, and Mr. Dissanayake Mudiyanselage Karunaratna, Director, National Intellectual Property Office of Sri Lanka served as Vice Chairs.
In his closing remarks, Ambassador Kessedjian welcomed the positive outcome of the Assemblies and the successful review of the Organization’s activities and its future directions. He stressed that efforts had to continue to ensure that developing countries needs were also served by the international intellectual property system. “We must engage in the sensitive, yet exciting, task of inventing new tools of intellectual property for the service of sustainable development. I am convinced that WIPO is the right place for such initiatives to prosper” he said.
The Chairman summarized the Assemblies main decisions and thanked the delegations for their active and constructive participation which helped to enrich intellectual property at a global level. He welcomed decisions to extend the Organization’s premises, constitutional reform, the setting up of an advisory committee on enforcement, and discussions on the international patent agenda. He also mentioned progress made in talks to ensure protection of domain names on the Internet as well as efforts regarding talks on the protection of audiovisual performances. Ambassador Kessedjian thanked China for its offer to host a summit on intellectual property in Beijing next year. The Chairman also paid tribute to the Director General, Dr. Kamil Idris, for his leadership of the Organization and his “innovative vision”. He commended Dr. Idris for his efforts in establishing at WIPO an irreplaceable climate of trust and for making intellectual property accessible to all. “We thank him sincerely and ask him, simply, to continue,” he said.
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