Highlights from the WIPO Assemblies which Concluded on 5 October

October 7, 2005

Geneva, 06 Oct 2005

The Assemblies of the member states of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) concluded on Wednesday, October 5, 2005, following a review of activities over the past year and agreement on the agenda of the Organization for the next year. The WIPO General Assembly, which brings together the 183 member states of the Organization, was chaired by Ambassador Enrique Manalo, Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva.

Ambassador Manalo thanked delegations for their active participation in the work of the General Assembly and welcomed the spirit of cooperation that characterized the talks, which had "produced a rich harvest." He said "To me, perhaps the most significant achievement of this year's General Assembly has been its resolve to preserve WIPO's tradition of decision-making by consensus." Ambassador Manalo thanked the Director General, Dr. Kamil Idris, for ensuring the Assemblies were a success.

At the end of the meeting, Dr. Idris said that he was very pleased with the outcome of the Assemblies which had taken place in a positive and constructive atmosphere. He welcomed the spirit of consensus that had led to important decisions on the future work program of the Organization. Dr. Idris said that he looked forward to working closely with member states in implementing the decisions that have been taken by the Assemblies.

The highlights of the meeting that took place from September 26 through October 5, 2005, include (according to the order in the proposed agenda):

  • The General Assembly approved the Program Performance Report for the year 2004, praising WIPO's achievements accomplished in the framework of rigorous budgetary containment. Program Performance Reports are submitted to member states on an annual and bi-annual basis within the context of WIPO's results-based management framework introduced in 1998, and inform WIPO member states of results achieved by WIPO along the criteria established in its program and budget. In this context, member states underlined progress made by WIPO in the definition of evaluation parameters (objectives, expected results, performance indicators) since 1998, which translated into the improved strategic framework contained in the proposed program and budget for the 2006-2007 biennium. During the Assemblies, they also underscored, in particular, WIPO's role in promoting intellectual property (IP) as a tool for social, economic and cultural development worldwide. Many member states expressed appreciation for WIPO's wide range of technical and legal assistance in fostering an IP culture, the modernization of IP infrastructure, human resources development and implementation of international treaties. They requested that WIPO continue to support IP development, providing expertise for the integration of developmental aspects into IP policies, including in the area of 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 2005.

  • Member states approved by consensus the 2006/07 program and budget presented by the Director General, Dr. Kamil Idris, amounting to 531 million Swiss Francs (SFr). The program and budget for 2006/07 introduced, for the first time, a policy based on budgetary balance after four consecutive biennia of budgeted deficits, with no increase in the fees levied on the services provided by WIPO, no deficit, no surplus, reserves at the level set by member states, and efficiency gains in various areas. Delegates were informed that the financial situation of WIPO had been restored and that the financial biennium 2004/2005 will close with expenditure matching income. Member states welcomed the program and budget for 2006/07 as a major shift in WIPO's budgetary policy, and expressed appreciation to the Director General and the management of WIPO for restoring the financial situation of WIPO in less than a year, without compromising the strategic objectives of the Organization. In the 2006/07 budget, (only eight million SFr higher than the revised budget for 2004/05) resources for cooperation with developing countries increase from 71.7 million SFr in the revised budget for 2004/05 to 73.7 million SFr in the proposed budget for 2006/07. The document has built-in flexibilities so that adjustments could be made, as appropriate, to the program and budget for 2006/07 in order to take into account any budgetary implications resulting from discussions on the WIPO Development Agenda, and other issues. The program and budget 2006/07 is available at http:///www.wipo.int/edocs/mdoc s/govbody/ en/wo_pbc_8/wo_pbc_8_3_pub.pdf. Delegates also supported a proposal for WIPO to take out a bank loan to fund the construction of a revised project for a new administrative building. Member states also approved the establishment of a WIPO Audit Committee and a WIPO Internal Audit Charter to further enhance the internal oversight function at WIPO. For more information, please see http://www.wipo.int/edocs/prdocs/en/2005/wipo_pr_2005_418.html .

  • The General Assembly discussed matters concerning the WIPO Advisory Committee on Enforcement (ACE) and encouraged the ACE to continue its work. The ACE was set up by WIPO member states in 2002 as a forum for discussion of enforcement matters with a mandate to provide technical assistance and coordination, cooperation and the exchange of information on questions of enforcement.

  • Member states reviewed the status of consultations on outstanding issues relating to the protection of audiovisual performances and agreed to keep the subject under review at their annual meetings in 2006. For more information, please see http:///www.wipo.int/edocs/prdocs/en/20 05 /wipo_pr_2005_424.html.

  • The General Assembly agreed to accelerate its work relating to the protection of broadcasting organizations to update international IP standards for broadcasting in the information age with a view to adopting an international treaty by 2007. The resolution adopted by the General Assembly said that two additional meetings of the SCCR "will be scheduled to accelerate discussions on the second revised consolidated text (SSCR/12/2REV.2) and the Working Paper (SCCR/12/5 Prov)." It continued "These meetings shall aim to agree and finalize a Basic Proposal for a treaty on the protection of the rights of broadcasting organizations in order to enable the 2006 General Assembly to recommend the convening of a Diplomatic Conference in December 2006 or at an appropriate date in 2007." A diplomatic conference is convened when negotiators feel that the time is ripe for the adoption of a treaty. For more information, please see http:///www.wipo.int/edocs/prdocs/en/20 05 /wipo_pr_2005_424.html.

  • Member states accepted an offer by the Government of Singapore to host a diplomatic conference on the revision of a key international treaty that will further simplify and streamline procedures relating to the registration of trademarks. The Diplomatic Conference for the Adoption of a Revised Trademark Law Treaty (TLT) will update the existing treaty bringing its procedures in line with technological advances in telecommunications in the past decade. The Diplomatic Conference will be held in March 2006. The revision of the TLT envisages the inclusion into the treaty of provisions on electronic filing of trademark applications and associated communications, provisions concerning the recording of trademark licenses, relief measures when certain time limits have been missed, and the establishment of an assembly of the contracting parties to enable the updating of administrative provisions regulated under the treaty. For more information, please see http:///www.wipo.int/edocs/prdocs/en/20 05 /wipo_pr_2005_420.html.

  • Member states also agreed to continue efforts to enhance the development dimension in all of the Organization's work by establishing a provisional committee to accelerate and complete discussions on proposals relating to a WIPO development agenda. This committee will build on the results of three inter-sessional intergovernmental meetings (IIMs) which were held earlier this year following a decision by member states at the 2004 General Assembly. For more information, please see http:///www.wipo.int/edocs/prdocs/en/20 05 /wipo_pr_2005_425.html.

  • Member states agreed on a work plan for talks on the draft Substantive Patent Law Treaty (SPLT) which aims to simplify and achieve greater convergence among national and regional patent laws and practices. The decision calls for a 3-day informal open forum to be held in Geneva in the first quarter of 2006 on all issues that have been raised in the draft SPLT or that member states wish to include in that draft. These issues will be discussed with contributions from speakers "reflecting a balance of geographical representation and perspectives and technical expertise." Member states may submit proposals for issues and speakers for the forum until November 15, 2005 and the final program will be published in January 2006 following consultations that will be conducted by the Chair of the WIPO General Assembly with interested member states. A three-day informal session of the SCP will be convened shortly after the open forum to agree on a work program – taking into account the discussions in the open forum – for the SCP. Thereafter, an ordinary session of the SCP will be held to initiate this work program. The General Assembly will consider the progress made in September 2006. For more information, please see http:///www.wipo.int/edocs/prdocs/en/20 05 /wipo_pr_2005_426.html.

  • The General Assembly extended the mandate of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) for two years and agreed to continue accelerated work on IP and traditional knowledge, genetic resources and folklore with a focus on the international dimension. The renewed mandate, in line with the General Assembly's 2003 directions to the IGC, excludes no outcome, including the possible development of an international instrument or instruments in this field. For more information, please see http://www.wipo.int/edocs/prdocs/en/200 5 /wipo_pr_2005_421.html and http:///www.wipo.int/edocs/prdocs/en/2003/wipo_pr_2003_36...

  • The General Assembly also agreed to establish a Voluntary Fund for Indigenous and Local Communities to directly support the participation of representatives of these communities in the work of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC). The voice and experience of indigenous and local communities have been a vital contribution to the IGC's work. This latest initiative to promote the participation of indigenous and local communities in WIPO's work is expected to further strengthen their role. The lack of a specific funding mechanism has been a key concern of indigenous and local community representatives in past IGC sessions. Beneficiaries will be members of indigenous or local communities, or other representatives of customary holders or custodians of traditional knowledge or traditional cultural expressions. They are to be selected from already accredited IGC observers by an Advisory Board appointed from WIPO member states and indigenous observers. The Voluntary Fund will be devoted entirely to funding their travel and living expenses to enable them to take part in the sessions of the IGC held in Geneva and other related activities. Immediate steps will be taken to put the Fund into operation and to call for voluntary contributions so that it is available to provide practical support as soon as possible. For more information, please see http:///www.wipo.int/edocs/prdocs/en/20 05 /wipo_pr_2005_422.html.

  • Member states also agreed to transmit to the Conference of the Parties (COP) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) a WIPO study on the relationship between disclosure requirements within the IP system and genetic resources and associated TK. For more information, please see http:///www.wipo.int/edocs/prdocs/en/20 05 /wipo_pr_2005_421.html.

  • Following the entry into force of the Patent Law Treaty (PLT) in April 2005, the inaugural assembly of the PLT was convened to establish its Rules of Procedure, consider the applicability of certain changes made under the PCT to the PLT and to decide on future work. Eleven countries are currently party to this treaty which simplifies and streamlines procedures for obtaining and maintaining a patent.

  • In a move to promote greater use of the international trademark system by least developed countries (LDCs), member states also approved a proposal to reduce the costs for applicants from LDCs to file applications for international trademark protection. The proposed fee reduction would bring the basic fee payable to WIPO down to 10% of the current amounts of 653 or 903 SFr. This means that the amount payable to WIPO by applicants from LDCs would become 65 or 90 SFr., depending on whether the reproduction of the mark is in black and white or in color. This fee reduction will take effect from January 1, 2006. For more information, please see http:///www.wipo.int/edocs/prdocs/en/20 05 /wipo_pr_2005_423.html.

  • Member states also took note of the status of reform of the International Patent Classification (IPC). The IPC is a hierarchical classification system covering all fields of technology designed to facilitate search and retrieval of patent information. The IPC is periodically revised to take account of technological developments and to ensure a more user-friendly and accessible patent classification and search tool for specialists and non-specialists alike. The new, updated English and French editions of the IPC were made available in August 2005 on the WIPO website at www.wipo.int/classifications/ipc. The new (eighth) edition, which enters into force on January 1, 2006, is the product of a 6-year process of reform designed to adapt the IPC to the electronic environment for improved efficiency in retrieval of patent information and to facilitate its use by industrial property offices and the general public. For more information, please see http:///www.wipo.int/edocs/prdocs/en/2 005 /wipo_upd_2005_259.html.

  • Member states reviewed the status of reform of the PCT and considered proposals concerning future work in this regard. Member states also endorsed a number of proposed amendments to PCT regulations to help applicants avoid loss of rights in certain circumstances while maintaining an appropriate balance between the interests of applicants and third parties. These amendments will take greater advantage of modern information and communications technology in the publication of PCT applications and will strengthen the international search with the addition of patent documents from the Republic of Korea to the PCT minimum documentation used in carrying out international searches. This move is a response to the ever-increasing number of first patent filings being made with the Korean Intellectual Property Office, particularly in the fields of information technology and biotechnology, making these documents a valuable source of technical information. Member states also agreed to include Arabic as a language of publication of the PCT, thereby making the system more accessible to a wider range of applicants from developing countries. Delegates also reviewed other recent developments in PCT minimum documentation, in particular, the inclusion of a wide range of traditional knowledge-related periodicals in the non-patent literature and the status of a project aimed at developing a Search Guidance Intellectual Property Digital Library (SGIPDL) to help examiners in the choice of documentation to be considered when conducting an international search. The PCT Assembly also took note of the significant progress made in the area of PCT Automation and PCT Information Systems. With the ongoing cooperation of PCT member states, WIPO anticipates that it will continue to demonstrate similar progress in the future. The PCT is an international patent filing system that facilitates the process of obtaining patent protection in up to 128 countries.

  • The General Assembly also reviewed WIPO's activities in relation to the protection of intellectual property in the Internet Domain Name System (DNS) and took note of the status of its 2002 recommendations in relation to the Second WIPO Internet Domain Name Process, which process concerned the relationship between domain names and certain types of identifiers other than trademarks. Recommendations for the protection in the DNS of the names and acronyms of international intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) and the names of countries continue to be under consideration by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) which is responsible for management of the DNS. A number of delegations expressed concern about the lack of progress on this matter at ICANN.

  • In line with the Organization's commitment to transparency and inclusive debate, the WIPO Assemblies also agreed to grant observer status to Palestine, to the Hague Conference on Private International Law and to a number of international non-governmental organizations.

    These include: the African Intellectual Property Association (AIPA), Alfa Redi, Business Software Alliance (BSA), Computer & Communication Industry Association (CCIA), Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR), Consumers International (CI), Creative Commons International (CCI), Electronic Information for Libraries (eIFL.net), European Consumers' Organization (BEUC), European Digital Media Association (EDIMA), European Digital Rights (EDRI), European Law Students' Association (ELSA International), Hipatia; International Center for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD), International Environmental Law Research Center (IELRC), International Organization of Performing Artists (GIART), International Policy Network (IPN), IP Justice; Public Interest Intellectual Property Advisors (PIIPA), The Royal Society for Encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce (RSA), Third World Network Berhad (TWN), Union for the Public Domain (UPD). Organizations granted observer status are invited to attend the meetings of WIPO Assemblies and other meetings of direct interest to them.

    Eighteen additional national non-governmental organizations considered to be in a position to offer constructive and substantive contributions to the deliberations of WIPO Assemblies, were granted observer status in conformity with a decision by WIPO member states in October 2002. These include, the Brazilian Center for International Relations (CEBRI), Center for Information Society and Intellectual Property (CISIP/CIOS), Center for Performers' Rights Administration (CPRA) of GEIDANKYO, Chamber of Patent Attorneys (PAK), Fundaçao Getulio Vargas (FGV), Generic Pharmaceutical Association (GPhA), German Association for Industrial Property and Copyright Law (GRUR), Healthcheck, Innovation Business Club (Intelcom), Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI), Intellectual Property Left (IPLeft), International Trade Law Institute (IDCID), Korean Progressive Network (JINBONET), Library Copyright Alliance (LCA), Mexican National Association of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers (ANAFAM), Open Knowledge Foundation (OKF), Public Knowledge, Inc., United States Telecom Association (USTA). At present, 67 inter-governmental organizations (IGOs), 201 international NGOs and 31 national NGOs have observer status with WIPO.

For further information, please contact the Media Relations and Public Affairs Section at WIPO:

  • Tel: (+41 22) 338 81 61 or (+41 22) 338 95 47;
  • E-mail: publicinf@wipo.int
  • Fax: (+41 22) 338 82 80.

World Intellectual Property Organisation
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