U.S. Proposes Partnership Program for World Intellectual Property Organization

Press Release
From an external source

For questions about this release, please contact
Brigid Quinn

United States Diplomatic Mission to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva - letterhead

GENEVA - The United States has proposed establishing a Partnership Program within the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) that would further strengthen the contribution that WIPO and strong and balanced intellectual property (IP) protection play in promoting development.

The proposal was outlined by the U.S. Delegation to the Inter-sessional Intergovernmental Meeting on a Development Agenda for WIPO (IIM), held April 11-13, 2005 in Geneva, Switzerland.

"Development is one of the most important challenges facing the international community, and one of the most daunting," said Mr. Paul Salmon of International Relations at the U.S. Patent and Trade Office, who is heading the U.S. delegation to the IIM. "Intellectual property plays a critical and positive role in development. It encourages creativity and innovation, investment, technology transfer, and economic growth."

He added, "The United States believes that development concerns have been - and ought to be - integral to WIPO's mission."

WIPO's mission, as approved by its member states, includes promoting intellectual property strategies that will "facilitate the journey from developing to developed."

The Partnership Program proposed by the U.S. would help WIPO provide better, more relevant, and more coordinated development assistance. It would facilitate the building of partnerships among developing countries, WIPO, other UN agencies, NGO's, the private sector, academic institutions, and other organizations, in order to address IP-related development needs.

"Our proposal has been broadly supported by both developed and developing countries from around the globe," said Mr. Salmon.

Regarding papers put forward by several countries to establish a "development agenda" for WIPO, Mr. Salmon said, in his opening statement, "We have concerns with both proposals submitted by Brazil, Argentina and other co-sponsors, because they appear to imply that WIPO has disregarded development concerns, and that strong and balanced IP protection is detrimental to global development goals... The experiences of many developing countries attending this meeting attest to the fact that IP has facilitated, rather than hindered, their development."

(The full texts of the U.S. delegation's opening statement and proposal for a Partnership Program follow.)

Opening Statement by Paul Salmon Head of the U.S. Delegation

* Thank you Mr. Chairman.

* First, our delegation would like to associate with the statement that the distinguished delegate of Italy made on behalf of Group B.

* Mr. Chairman, we thank the sponsors of the various papers and proposals before us this week for their thought-provoking contributions and would like to provide some brief reactions to them.

* With regard to the papers sponsored by Brazil, Argentina and the group of 12 additional countries, we must agree with the distinguished delegate of Switzerland that WIPO has incorporated development as an integral part of its mission since joining the UN family of organizations in 1974.

* We welcomed the continued discussion of intellectual property and development during last year's General Assembly meeting, and we again thank the co-sponsors for this opportunity to discuss this important topic.

* We strongly support WIPO's efforts to address development needs in all of its work, whether that work is norm setting, technical assistance or the delivery of IP services. Thus, we agree that development considerations have been, and ought to be, integral to WIPO's mission.

* However, the proposals submitted by Brazil, Argentina and other co-sponsors concern us, because they appear to imply that WIPO has disregarded development concerns, and that strong and balanced IP protection is detrimental to global development goals.

* We disagree with both notions. As noted by the Director General of WIPO in his book entitled "Intellectual Property - A Power Tool for Economic Growth," intellectual property is an important tool in economic, social and cultural development, and it encourages domestic innovation, investment and technology transfer. The experience of many developing countries here today will attest to the fact that IP has facilitated, rather than hindered, their development.

* It appears obvious to us, however, that WIPO and intellectual property systems can contribute only a part of the solution. We must look to other international bodies, those whose core competence is development or trade, to address other core development issues.

* As the sponsors recognize, not all countries will achieve the same benefits from intellectual property at the same time, and IP alone cannot bring about development. It is simply one part of the necessary infrastructure needed to stimulate development, as noted by the delegate of Switzerland in his remarks yesterday. The thought that less IP will further development, however, appears to us to be as flawed as the idea that an IP system alone can bring about development.

* Furthermore, we believe that WIPO has, and continues to, address the development dimension in all of its work.

* WIPO's current vision for the millennium, as approved by its member states, is to promote intellectual property strategies that will facilitate the journey from developing to developed.

* Developed and least developed countries have been and are increasingly active in all aspects of WIPO's work, including norm setting.

* As noted by the distinguished delegates of Colombia, WIPO treaties include flexibilities for developing countries. The basic obligations embodied in the treaties leave substantial room for individual policy choices.

* We are very interested to learn what lack of flexibilities exist in WIPO treaties, or how they limit policy choices or hinder development, and we would welcome a factual dialogue on this important question.

* In treaties under negotiation in WIPO, no country is prevented from bringing any issue or proposal to the table, as we have clearly seen in recent negotiations.

* Furthermore, WIPO devotes substantial resources to helping developing and least developed countries implement IP frameworks that will foster local innovation and economic growth, taking into consideration specific circumstances, needs and objectives.

* Over the past decade, WIPO's financial success has enabled it to almost triple its budgets, including those for development cooperation activities. WIPO thus has expanded the inclusion of a development agenda in its work, which we vigorously support.

* The United States is committed to work with all parties to reorient programs where needed, and we believe that this can be accomplished without amending the WIPO Convention, embarking on high level political declarations or establishing new bodies in WIPO.

* The U.S. fully supports the goal of economic, social and cultural development and believes that WIPO must continue to play an important role in fostering development through promoting effective use of intellectual property systems.

* We agree with the co-sponsors of the Brazil and Argentina papers that WIPO development programs should be demand driven, and that we should strengthen WIPO governance through greater transparency and internal controls such as a code of conduct.

* We believe equally strongly, however, that the international IP system, including its flexibilities, indeed promotes development.

* We also agree with the United Kingdom and Mexico that the existing international framework includes sufficient flexibilities and policy choices to meet specific and unique developing country needs. We also believe that the idea of promoting understanding of intellectual property on a wide scale basis within countries, as proposed by Mexico, is an idea whose time is past due, and that WIPO and its partners should help to achieve this objective.

* The United States asserts that WIPO has made, and should continue to make, its most important contribution to development precisely by deepening and expanding, rather than by diluting, its intellectual property expertise.

* We also support the concept proposed by the United Kingdom and several other countries during this session, that we can deepen our understanding on these issues by further factual discussions in the Permanent Committee on Cooperation for Development.

* Indeed, some combination of elements from all of the proposals before us may provide us with a way forward.

* Mr. Chairman, we look forward to continuing our discussions and enhancing our mutual understanding of these issues. Thank you.

Satement Introducing U.S. Proposal for a Partnership Program

* Mr. Chairman, the United States has submitted a proposal for the establishment of a Partnership Program in WIPO.

* The U.S. proposal is not intended to answer or rebut the Argentina/Brazil proposal, but it is premised on the recognition of the contribution that intellectual property and WIPO make to development and aimed at strengthening this contribution.

* Our proposal is not just about technical assistance, but also about the strategic use of the IP system, including its flexibilities, for development.

* The WIPO Partnership Program would build on WIPO's significant successes in addressing intellectual property development needs. The Partnership Program would bring together all stakeholders to match specific needs with available resources, whether from WIPO, other UN agencies such as development banks, from NGO's, the private sector, academia, charitable organizations, intellectual property offices, and so on.

* The U.S. proposal would help developing and least-developed countries to partner with these institutions to achieve synergies and address specific circumstances and needs; to strike appropriate balance in national legislation, and to strengthen institutions such as IP offices, inventor groups, collecting societies and so on.

* Partnerships with NGOs, IGOs, IPOs, the private sector, academia, industry, charitable organizations and other institutions through the Partnership Program would bring about synergies not seen before, without imposing a huge burden on the WIPO International Bureau.

* The Partnership Program would include two main features: a WIPO Partnership Database and a WIPO Partnership Office.

* The WIPO Partnership Office would have a partners section listing available, partner institutions with contact information, a country and region section where specific needs could be notified, and a success section with descriptions and/or evaluations of successful partner matches.

* The WIPO Partnership Office would have WIPO staff that aggressively seek partners, funds and matches.

* The myriad of possible matches is almost infinite. For example:

* A developing country culture ministry with museum experts, charitable organization and a regional development bank to exploit rich cultural assets in developing and least developed countries.

* A developing country copyright collecting society with NGO's having expertise and a developed country collecting society to ensure compensation to authors, producers and performers in developing countries.

* A developing country IP office with a developed country IP office and development funding, for automation projects, patent information dissemination, and so forth - so that developing countries' institutions can enhance their access to knowledge and technology transfer.

* Mr. Chairman, we believe that the proposed Partnership Program would help to better address several needs:

* There is a need for better coordination of IP-related development assistance;

* There is a need to make WIPO and other IP-related development assistance more relevant to developing and least-developed countries.

* Developing and least-developed countries, of course, are free to turn anywhere for advice on IP strategy, whether this is WIPO, UNCTAD, NGO's, IP offices, or elsewhere. The WIPO Partnership Program Proposal is meant to facilitate choice, competition and synergy through partnering, to create IP systems to meet the specific needs, circumstances and objectives of countries.

* Mr. Chairman, further details are outlined in the proposal itself. We ask that delegations consider our proposal in the spirit in which it is made - one of cooperation to advance the discussions relating to intellectual property and development in WIPO.

* Thank you Mr. Chairman.

# # #