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Global intellectual property body looks South
Posted by: Prof. Dr. M. Raupp (IP Logged)
Date: October 14, 2005 08:15AM ; ;

The organisation guiding global policy on intellectual property is to pay
greater attention to the interests of developing countries, October 2005 by
Priya Shetty.

At its annual meeting last week, the World Intellectual Property
Organisation (WIPO), created a committee to discuss how to make these
interests central to WIPO's activities and advice.

WIPO also agreed to set up a fund to help indigenous people attend
discussions of its work on local genetic resources and traditional

The proposal for WIPO to have a development-based agenda was launched last
year by a group of 14 developing countries led by Argentina and Brazil.

The other 12 countries were: Bolivia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador,
Egypt, Iran, Kenya, Peru, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania and

High-level meetings

This proposal prompted a series of high-level WIPO meetings throughout 2005,
during which suggestions from developing countries on how to frame
intellectual property rules within a developing country-friendly context
were discussed.

By the time this year's general assembly began, these meetings had made
progress but not reached any firm conclusions.

The organisation said in a statement last week that there was "unanimous
agreement" between delegates at the general assembly on the importance of
ensuring that their policies promoted sustainable development.

However, it then said there were "divergent views on the best way to move
the process forward".

Some countries wanted the discussions in high-level meetings to continue.
Others argued that there already existed a committee expressly created for
this purpose: the Permanent Committee on Cooperation for Development
relating to Intellectual Property, established in 1999 to deal with matters
relating to international development.

The special committee set up this month was designed to be a compromise
between the two points of view. Its recommendations will feed into the next
general assembly in September 2006.

Travel fund for indigenous people

WIPO also set up a fund for members of indigenous communities to travel to
Geneva (where the organisation is based) to participate in discussions on
genetic resources and indigenous knowledge.

Antony Taubman, head of WIPO's traditional knowledge division, told
SciDev.Net that this is "the final piece in the puzzle". Over the past few
years, says Taubman, WIPO has taken many steps to include indigenous peoples
in decision-making.

For instance, WIPO now allows non-governmental organisations representing
local communities to attend its meetings and express the views of indigenous

As a result, indigenous organisations have helped shape WIPO's documents on
protecting traditional knowledge from being exploited.

Taubman says contributions to the new travel fund are being solicited from
wealthy nations and philanthropic organisations.


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