Whatever the WIPO Development Agenda is, significant headway is being made in achieving it, if WIPO's Press Release PR/478/2007, issued on 26 February 2007, is anything to go by.
Right: Castles in the Air? Or is WIPO building something of genuine substance? (this remarkable tapestry, and others, are available from Stef and Anna Francis)
The juicy bits of the communique run as follows:
Setting aside his usual grumpy resentment and scepticism about things that weren't actually his own idea, the IPKat has to concede that the future looks bright if WIPO has the will to adopt this agenda and the resolve to carry it through - though he would have liked to see something specific about WIPO playing a more active role vis-a-vis UNCITRAL, whose interest in IP as collateral may interfere with some aspects of the development agenda.
"... Negotiators from 105 countries ... agreed on a first set of recommendations, which will be a part of the final list of agreed proposals to be recommended for action to the WIPO General Assembly in September 2007 ... The first set of recommendations pertain to WIPO’s work in the areas of technical assistance and capacity building; norm‑setting, flexibilities, public policy and public domain; technology transfer, information and communication technologies (ICT) and access to knowledge; assessment, evaluation and impact studies; institutional matters including mandate and governance and certain other issues. ...
... The delegations expressed their views on the proposals listed in the various clusters. ...
CLUSTER A: TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE AND CAPACITY BUILDING
1. WIPO technical assistance shall be, inter alia, development-oriented, demand-driven and transparent, taking into account the priorities and the special needs of developing countries, especially LDCs, as well as the different levels of development of Member States and activities should include time frames for completion. In this regard, design, delivery mechanisms and evaluation processes of technical assistance programs should be country specific.
2. Provide additional assistance to WIPO through donor funding, and establish Trust-Funds or other voluntary funds within WIPO specifically for LDCs, while continuing to accord high priority to finance activities in Africa through budgetary and extra‑budgetary resources, to promote, inter alia, the legal, commercial, cultural, and economic exploitation of intellectual property in these countries.
3. Increase human and financial allocation for technical assistance programs in WIPO for promoting a, inter alia, development-oriented IP culture, with an emphasis on introducing intellectual property at different academic levels and on generating greater public awareness on IP.
4. Place particular emphasis on the needs of SMEs and institutions dealing with scientific research and cultural industries and assist Member States, at their request, in setting-up appropriate national strategies in the field of IP.
5. WIPO shall display general information on all technical assistance activities on its website, and shall provide, on request from Member States, details of specific activities, with the consent of the Member State(s) and other recipients concerned, for which the activity was implemented.
6. WIPO’s technical assistance staff and consultants shall continue to be neutral and accountable, by paying particular attention to the existing Code of Ethics, and by avoiding potential conflicts of interest. WIPO shall draw up and make widely known to the Member States a roster of consultants for technical assistance available with WIPO.
Right: WIPO is rightly famed for its almost magical technical assistance ...
7. Promote measures that will help countries deal with IP related anti-competitive practices, by providing technical cooperation to developing countries, especially LDCs, at their request, in order to better understand the interface between intellectual property rights and competition policies.
8. Request WIPO to develop agreements with research institutions and with private enterprises with a view to facilitating the national offices of developing countries, especially LDCs, as well as their regional and sub- regional IP organizations to access specialized databases for the purposes of patent searches.
9. Request WIPO to create, in coordination with Member States, a database to match specific IP-related development needs with available resources, thereby expanding the scope of its technical assistance programs, aimed at bridging the digital divide.
CLUSTER B: Norm‑setting, flexibilities, public policy and public domain
10. Norm-setting activities shall
be inclusive and member driven;
take into account different levels of development;
take into consideration a balance between costs and benefits;
be a participatory process, which takes into consideration the interests and priorities of all WIPO Member States and the viewpoints of other stakeholders, including accredited inter-governmental organizations and non-governmental organizations; and
be in line with the principle of neutrality of the WIPO Secretariat.
11. Consider the preservation of the public domain within WIPO’s normative processes and deepen the analysis of the implications and benefits of a rich and accessible public domain.
Left: a simple way to bridge the digital divide
12. To request WIPO, within its mandate, to expand the scope of its activities aimed at bridging the digital divide, in accordance with the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) also taking into account the significance of the Digital Solidarity Fund (DSF).
13. To explore IP-related policies and initiatives necessary to promote the transfer and dissemination of technology, to the benefit of developing countries and to take appropriate measures to enable developing countries to fully understand and benefit from different provisions, pertaining to flexibilities provided for in international agreements, as appropriate.
14. To encourage Member States, especially developed countries, to urge their research and scientific institutions to enhance cooperation and exchange with research and development institutions in developing countries, especially LDCs.
15. Facilitating IP-related aspects of ICT for growth and development: Provide for, in an appropriate WIPO body, discussions focused on the importance of IP-related aspects of ICT, and its role in economic and cultural development, with specific attention focused on assisting Member States to identify practical IP-related strategies to use ICT for economic, social and cultural development.
16. To explore supportive IP-related policies and measures Member States, especially developed countries, could adopt for promoting transfer and dissemination of technology to developing countries.
CLUSTER D: Assessment, Evaluation and Impact Studies
17. To request WIPO to develop an effective yearly review and evaluation mechanism for the assessment of all its development-oriented activities, including those related to technical assistance, establishing for that purpose specific indicators and benchmarks, where appropriate.
Right: David Salle's ingenious pigeon-proof design - a sure way of avoiding benchmarks
18. With a view to assisting Member States in creating substantial national programs, to request WIPO to conduct a study on constraints to intellectual property protection in the informal economy, including the tangible costs and benefits of IP protection in particular in relation to generation of employment.
19. To request WIPO to undertake, upon request of Member States, new studies to assess the economic, social and cultural impact of the use of intellectual property systems in these States.
CLUSTER E: Institutional Matters including Mandate and Governance
20. To request WIPO, within its core competence and mission, to assist developing countries, especially African countries, in cooperation with relevant international organizations, by conducting studies on brain drain and make recommendations accordingly.
21. To request WIPO to intensify its cooperation on IP related issues with UN agencies, according to Member States’ orientation, in particular UNCTAD, UNESCO, WHO, UNIDO, UNEP,and other relevant international organizations, especially WTO in order to strengthen the coordination for maximum efficiency in undertaking development programs
22. To conduct a review of current WIPO technical assistance activities in the area of cooperation and development
23. To enhance measures that ensure wide participation of civil society at large in WIPO activities in accordance with its criteria regarding NGO acceptance and accreditation, keeping the issue under review.
CLUSTER F: Other Issues
24. To approach intellectual property enforcement in the context of broader societal interests and especially development‑oriented concerns, with a view that “the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights should contribute to the promotion of technological innovation and to the transfer and dissemination of technology, to the mutual advantage of producers and users of technological knowledge and in a manner conducive to social and economic welfare, and to a balance of rights and obligations”, in accordance with Article 7 of the TRIPs Agreement".
Merpel says, are you sure you've read it? Doesn't point 24 mean "When you make all IP available through compulsory licensing, don't forget to pay lip-service to the payment of some token royalty?"