WIPO GA, September 23, 2009

This is a semi-live blog that will be edited during the day.

It’s Wed, September 23rd, and WIPO is winding up a relatively boring two days of a high level Ministerial segment. Many delegates felt this was poorly organized, with notices going out fairly late, and not much preliminary work or focus. Tomorrow begins the more substantive agenda.

This week the GA is being chaired by Ambassador Alberto Juan Dumont. Ambassador Dumont may leave before the meeting is over, and if so, Yesim Baykal will apparently take over as the GA Vice Chair. Baykal is a Geneva based legal advisor for the Turkey mission.

Francis Gurry’s speech on Tuesday drew mixed reviews. Sisule Musungu thought his comments on counterfeiting were helpful, because he clearly indicated that counterfeiting is about fake products, and “deliberate, large-scale imitation of brands, identity and trade dress,” but not legitimate generic products or all alleged infringements:

Counterfeiting is not a North-South problem, but a problem of globalization – of open markets, good transportation systems and the free movement of persons, goods and capital. Let me be clear that, by counterfeiting, I mean the deliberate, large-scale imitation of brands, identity and trade dress. I certainly do not mean generic pharmaceutical products, which have their legitimate place within the competitive and regulated market for pharmaceuticals. Counterfeit means fake and deceptive. It affects high technology, low technology, luxury goods, handicrafts, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, spare parts and artifacts of traditional cultural systems – in short, the whole of human production – and it affects and originates from all countries. I hope that we can move gradually as an Organization to a dialogue on ways and means of dealing in a practical way with the misuse of intellectual property to sell fake products.

With regard to the problems of persons with reading disabilities, the Gurry Speech said:

Following the entry into force of the Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons, a Stakeholders’ Platform has been established and a treaty proposal has been tabled on access to published works on the part of the visually impaired.

However, the WBU noticed the WIPO Secretariat press release reported only the reference to the stakeholder’s platform.

Mr. Gurry also referred to the establishment of the stakeholder’s platform to improve access to published works by the visually impaired.

The broader SCCR work program on limitations and exceptions was not mentioned, and on the topic of climate change, Gurry’s statements were hardly neutral considering the nature of global negotiations on this topic.

Today the UK intellectual property office hosted a lunch meeting of civil society NGOs, which I attended. The UK IP office said it had complained frequently of the secrecy of the ACTA negotiations. The UK IP office said it had no official position on whether or not a treaty was needed to facilitate the cross border sharing of accessible works for persons who are blind or have other reading disabilities, a comment that stimulated critical discussion from NGOs. One NGO said it was incredible that something so “easy” as this could not generate support. On a different topic, we encouraged the UK to support work within the SCP on the research exception for patents, and issues related to patents on standards, as two topics that could potentially benefit from global norm setting. On the issue of access to medicine, KEI said that the longer run sustainable solution to access was linked to consensus on the appropriate developing country contributions to R&D costs. In this respect, the UK was asked by KEI to look WHO EWG programs on the Cancer and Donor Prize funds.

Back now at WIPO, and Group B is speaking. With regard to persons with reading disabilities, they stressed the importance of finding a solution, but did not mention the stakeholder platform or the treaty. I had expected Group B to only mention the stakeholder platform, so this seen as some positive movement.

A big talking point for WIPO and several countries this week is the patent application backlog, which is being discussed in connection with proposals to encourage the sharing of patent searches, and other elements of examinations.

WIPO is now hearing a series of statements by regional groups. I wish they would also post the detailed text on the web page.

I have not been focused all day on the proceedings inside the main room, but I was told the U.S. government asked for the floor to read a general statement, but then decided against doing so. I have asked the U.S. government for a copy of the Group B statement.

The EU told me this afternoon that “there is no proposal” on the broadcast treaty, but they “will make a statement” in support of the treaty. There is a draft, but I can’t see it.

Among the country statements I did catch was a very nice statement by Malaysia on the topic of a treaty for persons who are blind or have other reading disabilities. I wish at least one Group B country could find the decency to make even half as a good a statement.

On the way out of the room, I picked up a flyer for a new academic journal with the name “The WIPO Journal.” It is a Thomson/Reuters journal, edited by Peter K. Yu, with a well known international editorial board. According to the flyer, it’s 50 euros, for 2 issues a year.