Justice Media Release
20 February 2006
Contact: Robin D. Gross, IP Justice Executive Director
Resumes "Development Agenda" Talks
Developing Countries Continue Push for Balance at WIPO
Justice is in Geneva this week as the second year of talks resume to
debate a “Development
” at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the
UN Specialized Agency that over-sees the formulation of international
intellectual property law treaties.
In October 2004, the WIPO General Assembly voted
to enact a “Development Agenda”, intended to reform the agency’s
practices that favor large intellectual property owners at the expense
of the greater public interest.
Led by Brazil and Argentina, a coalition of fourteen developing
countries, “the Group of Friends of Development”, submitted a number of
for reform at WIPO and a re-balancing of IP rights in line with the
global public interest.
In July 2005, IP Justice published a statement
that was signed-on to by 138 public-interest NGO’s from all corners of
the globe to support the Friends of Development (FoD) proposal for much
needed reform at WIPO.
“As a United Nations organization, WIPO must re-focus its work to
promote the global public interest,” said IP Justice Executive Director
Robin Gross. “Awareness is growing, particularly in developing
countries, about the harm to creativity and innovation caused by
excessive intellectual property rights.”
WIPO held three
during the spring and summer of 2005 intended to debate
proposals and send recommendations to WIPO’s General Assembly in the
fall 2005. The FoD proposal and several others should have been
examined in 2005, however stodgy WIPO procedures and US interventions
prevented any serious debate in 2005 on proposals to reform WIPO.
Despite the overwhelming majority of support from Member Countries to
make substantive recommendations to the 2005 General Assembly, two
countries were able to block
any substantive recommendations from going forward. WIPO
works according to a consensus model, so if any single country refuses
to agree, no progress can be made. At the summer 2005 Development
Agenda meetings, the United States, supported only by Japan, refused to
allow a single recommendation for reform go to the 2005 WIPO General
Then at the 2005 WIPO General Assembly, Member Countries again voted
to pursue a Development Agenda at WIPO. The General Assembly
called for holding two week-long meetings in 2006, to be followed by
substantive recommendations for reform to go before the 2006 General
Assembly in September.
The first 2006 Development Agenda meeting takes place 20-24 February,
with subsequent discussions scheduled for 26-30 June 2006, leading up
to the General Assembly in September 2006.
Besides the original 2004 FoD proposal, which has yet to receive
serious attention by WIPO, a number of other countries have
subsequently submitted proposals for debate in 2006 as well. And
the FoD also submitted a new proposal
at the beginning of this week’s meeting to update and elaborate on
their original proposal of 2004.
In January 2006 Chile submitted an important proposal
that advocates for greater protection of information in the public
domain. Chile’s proposal also calls for recognition of various
complementary models of dissemination of creativity, including the
expansion of free software and other open licenses such as Creative
Commons. Chile’s proposal also calls for an assessment of what
the appropriate levels of IP are, given the particular needs of a
country, including its degree of development and institutional
capacity. Chile’s proposal recognizes the simple fact that “one
size fits all” (X-Large) for IP rights would be harmful to the national
interests of many developing countries who are overwhelmingly
Entirely missing the intent of the Development Agenda, the US submitted
a new proposal
on the eve of the February 2006 Development Agenda meeting, designed to
increase intellectual property rights. The US proposal would make
it easier to obtain patents by providing a patent database to Member
Countries. And the US proposal would initiate a study to
demonstrate the harm of counterfeiting to economic growth.
Unfortunately nothing in the US proposal addresses the real concerns
developing countries face regarding the inequities of existing IP
Colombia also submitted a lack-luster proposal
that would allow the national offices of developing countries to
access databases for patent searches.
detailed analysis of the WIPO Development Agenda from IP Justice is