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Monday, 20 December 2010

Will WIPO wither and die on the choking vine of ... development?

A new lobbying tactic from the
pro-patent group in WIPO?
One of the keenest observers of the international IP scene is Intellectual Property Watch's William New.  In "US Ambassador: Over-Focus On Development “Will Kill” WIPO", which he posted here last Friday, William gave an account of the strikingly outspoken statement by United States Ambassador to the United Nations Betty King [full text here] that the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) "is headed in a controversial direction", warning that "a focus on development at the expense of protection of intellectual property rights will mean the end of the agency".  She is quoted as saying
"If we get to a system where the protections of patents are abrogated in the name of development, then we certainly will kill that organization. So I worry very much about that”.
The remark, the author gently suggest is possibly a reflection that the 2007 WIPO Development Agenda intended to ensure WIPO is development-friendly, is having the more profound effect on the United Nations body’s activities sought by the Agenda’s proponents. King is said to have taken aim particularly at the recently formed Development Agenda Group, which includes the fast-growing [and IP-agnostic, queries Merpel?] economies of  Brazil, Egypt, India, Indonesia and South Africa.

Says the Kat, don't worry Betty, no-one has to sign up to anything they don't want to, and patent protection will only be abrogated if you want it to be. All WIPO treaties remain consensual.  When developing nations try to get the upper hand, for example in the Washington Treaty on Intellectual Property in Respect of Integrated Circuits when the developing nations rather liked the idea of compulsory licensing of chip topographies, the result is that nothing happens.  The same was the case with the attempts to put forward the UNCTAD Code on the Transfer of Technology in the 1980s, in which a large body of developing countries wanted advantageous terms such as the unbundling of licensed technology and warranties that it actually worked.  And when IP-rich countries don't feel that the existing international order is capable of supporting their requirements, they are perfectly capable of going off and doing an ACTA.   More to the point, if patent-rich countries can't come to the table and argue persuasively that their view is preferable to the more unpalatable bits of the development agenda, they have only themselves to blame.

Betty King International Diplomat here
Betty King International Ministries here
The goose that laid the golden eggs here

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