For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Monday, 2 November 2009

WIPO says it with flowers (among other things)

A press release from the World Intellectual Property Organization, "WIPO & Donor Community to Explore Ways to Enhance use of IP for Development", was issued today and it makes interesting reading. The text reads as follows:

"The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is hosting an international conference in Geneva on November 5 and 6, 2009 [hey, that's this week!] to help improve understanding among the donor community of the key developmental role of IP [this makes a change from seeking to improve understanding among the developing nations], to encourage their support for intellectual property-related development projects and improve access by developing countries, particularly least developed countries (LDCs) and countries in Africa, to donor funding for such projects [donor funding has to be (i) available on free or affordable terms, (ii) adequate for each project and (iii) securely ring-fenced to protect it against imaginative ways in which it is caused to evaporate before the project is completed -- or in some cases, started].

The Conference will demonstrate, in particular, to bilateral and multilateral donor agencies, the relevance of intellectual property (IP) to development and to explain how developing countries can use IP to facilitate their economic, social and cultural development, in particular in relation to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). [if the agencies don't know this yet, what hope is there for the rest of us!]

The Conference will focus on three main themes: Aid for Trade; Science, Technology and Innovation for Development; and the Digital Divide [themes 1 and 3 have the advantage of having cute names, though theme 2 is equally important]. It will bring together presentations of real life examples of IP in action in developing countries from a diverse set of presenters such as: a film producer from Nigeria (Madu Chikwendu, MCM Group, Nigeria), two African designers involved in exporting to developed country markets (Ronel Jordaan and Cheick Diallo), a rose breeder from Kenya (Bas Smit of Kordes Roses), a coffee producer from Ethiopia (Tadesse Meskela, General Manager, Oromia Coffee Farmers Co-operative Union, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia), a South African publisher (Brian Wafawarowa, New Africa Books), the Senegalese music industry (Rokhaya Daba Sarr, Bureau Export de la Musique Africaine & Tringa Musiques et développement) and a traditional knowledge expert (Ann Sintoyia Tome, Maasai Cultural Heritage Foundation Kenya) [The IPKat hopes that these presentations will be made available even to those of us who are unable to attend. Apart from the fact that they're generally much more entertaining than lectures from lawyers and politicos, if properly pitched they can inspire both donors and like-minded enterprising colleagues].

These real life experiences will be accompanied by a series of high level roundtable discussions with senior policy-makers [There had to be a downside ...]. The Conference will be opened by WIPO Director General Francis Gurry followed by introductory keynote speeches by the United Nations Under-Secretary General, Special Adviser on Africa, Cheick Sidi Diarra and the Brazilian Under-Secretary for Economic and Technological Affairs, Ambassador Pedro Carneiro de Mendonça.

The conference is an important step in building a relationship between WIPO, its member states and the donor community and offers an opportunity for developing countries to engage with the donor community on IP-related issues and for WIPO to foster partnerships in support of improved access to funding.

While implementation of the WIPO Development Agenda is provided for under the Organization’s regular budget, the mobilization of extra-budgetary resources is seen as a means of broadening the impact of WIPO’s development work in general and speeding up implementation of recommendations under the WIPO Development Agenda in particular [Trying to interpret this, the IPKat thinks it means "WIPO has enough cash to run conferences like this, but it doesn't have the funds to finance the sort of projects it's encouraging]. This initiative is in support of the WIPO Development Agenda which calls for the mobilization of additional resources through donor funding, the establishment of funds in trust and other voluntary funds within WIPO specifically for LDCs and countries in Africa to promote the use of IP for social, economic and cultural development.

Anyone interested in participating in the meeting, which is open to the public, is requested to complete the on-line registration form".
The IPKat, who rather likes this WIPO initiative, is fascinated by the concept of the "donor community". Viewed from the point of view of recipients, donors are a community, bound together by the privilege of IP ownership; but, viewed by each other, donors are often fiercely suspicious of one another and competitive to the point of being, well, not the best of friends. To them, it's recipients who are a community, bound together by their poverty, their lack of resources and the absence of an innovation-friendly soil in which to plant the seeds of creativity. Merpel adds, with globalisation we're all one big community, aren't we?

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