[World Intellectual Property Organization] WIPO Assemblies Open

September 24, 2003

Ambassador Bernard Kessedjian, Permanent Representative of France, was re-elected as Chairman of the WIPO General Assembly. Ms. Dorothy Angote, Registrar-General, Department of the Registrar-General, Attorney-General’s Chambers of Kenya and Mr. Wang Jingchuan, Commissioner, State Intellectual Property Office of China were elected as Vice Chairs. The WIPO Assemblies, which bring together the 179 member states of the Organization, are meeting in Geneva from September 22 to October 1, 2003.

In his opening remarks, Ambassador Kessedjian commended WIPO, under the leadership of Director General Dr. Kamil Idris, for its achievements and efforts in promoting protection of intellectual property around the world and in modernizing its operations. He cited progress in WIPO’s cooperation for development program, as well as the progressive development of international intellectual property law, and the development of WIPO’s intellectual property filing and registration services.

“WIPO, under the guidance of its Director General, has shown its determination to deal with all subjects, including the most complicated ones,” Ambassador Kessedjian said. “Our on-going drive to recognize and promote creativity and innovation, which has guided the activities of WIPO since its establishment, is now more than ever a central concern of our society. We are seeking common objectives. All creators, researchers and holders of knowledge have an interest in the development of a protective legal structure…This common concern constitutes the engine of this Organization, which has been able to demonstrate its universal significance,” he added.

An exhibition on “Traditional Costumes and Music from Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary and Romania” also opened on Monday to mark the beginning of the WIPO Assemblies. Assembled with the cooperation of the permanent missions of the six countries involved, the costumes and music featured in the exhibition represent a great variety of styles, and provide a vivid illustration of the power of human creativity to enrich our surroundings . The exhibition will continue at the WIPO Information Center through October 3, 2003.

Highlights of the Assemblies Agenda:
The General Assembly is invited to approve a recommendation by the Program and Budget Committee for the Organization’s 2004-2005 program and budget, which proposes a slight decrease as compared to 2002-2003 owing to the completion of major infrastructure projects in the area of information technology and buildings during that financial period. The Program and Budget Committee approved a budget amounting to 638.8 million Swiss Francs (SFr), which reflects a decrease of 30 million SFr or 4.5% as compared with the revised budget for 2002-2003 of 668.8 million SFr. The 2004-2005 program and budget sets out a streamlined and focused program and budget. It will enable the Organization to transform its vision of the role of intellectual property (IP) as a powerful tool for economic, social and cultural development into a practical reality by concentrating on generating specific, tailored outcomes and tangible deliverables that have a positive impact at national, regional and international levels. Under the 2004-2005 program and budget, WIPO will emphasize and support the development of an IP culture that enables all stakeholders to play their distinct roles within a coherent, strategic whole and to realize the potential of IP as a tool for economic, social and cultural development.

The Assemblies will consider studies on the impact of the international patent system on developing countries. Within the context of the “WIPO Patent Agenda”, the Director General commissioned studies by four experts from different regions and different backgrounds to help identify issues which need to be considered during the Organization’s work with member states and stakeholders on the future development of the international patent system. The studies provide a broad perspective on the issues involved and represent a valuable contribution to the discussion relating to this ongoing work. The views expressed in these studies are those of the authors and not necessarily of WIPO’s member states or the secretariat. The WIPO Patent Agenda aims to help coordinate future work, while not undermining or replacing existing initiatives such as harmonization of substantive patent law and PCT reform. The goal is to achieve an international patent system that is more user-friendly, coherent and accessible, and provides an appropriate balance between the rights of inventors and the general public, with the flexibility required to properly serve the differing needs of states, including countries in different regions and at different stages of development.

The General Assembly will also consider future directions for WIPO’s substantive work and international policy development in the area of traditional knowledge, folklore (traditional cultural expressions), and genetic resources. Over the last two years, the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) has laid down a solid basis for WIPO’s work in this area. Its most recent meeting in July 2003 explored ideas for future work and considered the prospects for accelerated moves towards concrete outcomes. The proposed program for WIPO’s future work in this field includes continuing capacity-building, legislative assistance and cooperation with a range of national, regional and international initiatives. Strong interest has been expressed in the need for policy debate to focus on the specifically international element of the intellectual property protection of traditional knowledge and cultural expressions, and intellectual property aspects of genetic resources.

The Assembly will review the Organization’s work in the field of Internet domain names and intellectual property protection. WIPO’s Arbitration and Mediation Center is the leading provider of services for the resolution of disputes arising from the abusive registration of Internet domain names. Delegates will be briefed about recent developments in follow-up on the report of the Second WIPO Internet Domain Name Process, addressing intellectual property issues in particular in connection with the registration as domain names of country names and names and acronyms of international intergovernmental organizations. Last year the Assembly had adopted certain recommendations on these issues which are currently under consideration by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

The Assembly of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) Union is invited to adopt proposed amendments to the Schedule of Fees annexed to the PCT Regulations, including proposals for greater availability of fee reductions for applicants from least developed countries and a new schedule of fee reductions where the international application is filed in fully electronic form; proposed amendments of the PCT Regulations designed to further streamline and rationalize the PCT system; and proposals concerning the future work program for PCT reform. The PCT Assembly is also invited to appoint the National Board of Patents and Registration of Finland as an International Searching and Preliminary Examining Authority. Finally, the Assembly will be presented with status reports on two major IT projects relating to the PCT: the IMPACT (Information Management for the PAtent Cooperation Treaty) Project and the PCT-SAFE (Secure Applications Filed Electronically) Project.”

The Assembly of the Special Union for the International Registration of Marks (Madrid Union)will discuss proposed amendments to the Common Regulations under the Madrid Agreement and Protocol. One set of amendments concerns modifications necessary in view of the expected accession of the European Community to the Madrid Protocol, in order to take special account of some specific features of the Community Trade Mark system, arising from its regional nature. The other set of amendments concerns the possible inclusion of Spanish as an additional language of the Madrid system. It is generally felt that the inclusion of Spanish would operate as a clear and strong incentive for Spanish-speaking countries (especially those from the Latin-American region) to join the Madrid System and/or would facilitate their accession process. Participation in the Madrid system of the 18 hispanophone countries that are currently not party to it would present a major interest for current users of the system as well as potential users in the 18 hispanophone countries in question.

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