Request for support for reform at WIPO - Group NGO stmt supporting Development Agenda available for sign-on

Robin Gross robin at IPJUSTICE.ORG
Thu Jul 14 17:01:45 CEST 2005

Dear colleagues,

Apologies for the cross-posting, but ....

Attached and below is a statement for publication at next week's WIPO 
Development Agenda Meeting.  Civil society groups are invited to sign-on 
to the statement to show support for reform at WIPO, and specifically, 
support for the Friends of Development proposal.

Background info on the WIPO Development Agenda meeting is posted at:

If your NGO would like to sign-on in support of this statement, please 
send me an email (robin at and indicate the NGO name and 
country in which your NGO is based.

Please send your support for this statement by TUESDAY 19 JULY so we can 
publish this on Wednesday JULY 20th at the beginning of 3rd IIM of the 
Development Agenda meeting at WIPO.

And please distribute this statement as widely as possible and encourage 
other groups to please sign-on, so we can show the WIPO delegates that 
public-interest groups support reform at WIPO.

Within the next day or so, this group statement (and translations) will 
also be posted to the web at:
and supporting NGO names will be added there as they come in.

Our statement would be much more effective if we had it translated into 
other languages - particularly Spanish, French, German, Italian, and 
Portuguese.  If anyone is able to translate this document into any of 
these languages (or others), please let me know asap.  We'd like to 
distribute hard-copies of these translations at the 20-22 July meeting 
also, so will need the translations completed by the 19th so we can make 
copies in Geneva for distribution on the 20th.

Thank you!!
Robin Gross
robin at
IP Justice


We, the undersigned public interest non-governmental organizations 
support the adoption of the proposal submitted by the Group of Friends 
of Development (FoD) for a Development Agenda at the World Intellectual 
Property Organization (WIPO).

Specifically, we call attention to the following principles in the FoD 
proposal and recommend that Member States:

Public interest NGOs fully support Proposal 1 of the adopted Work Plan 
(Annex to Summary of Chair), which proposes amending the WIPO Convention 
to include explicit language incorporating a development dimension and 
the specific language for such change set forth in WO/GA/31/11, appendix 3.
The 1974 agreement between the United Nations and WIPO established WIPO 
as a specialized agency of the UN family with responsibility for 
“promoting creative intellectual activity and for facilitating the 
transfer of technology related to industrial property to the developing 
countries in order to accelerate economic, social and cultural 
development, subject to the competence and responsibilities of the 
United Nations and its organs . . . .”
Amending WIPO’s mandate will enhance and inscribe a development 
dimension into the organization’s core, ensuring WIPO will maintain its 
responsibility to the UN and promote the public interest, first and 


We fully support Proposal 3 of the adopted Work Plan that calls on 
Member States to consider elaboration of a Treaty on Access to Knowledge 
and Technology.	

Access to knowledge and information sharing are fundamental to education 
and research and to fostering innovation and creativity. A treaty 
setting out user freedoms would address “the need to maintain a balance 
between the rights of authors and the larger public interest, 
particularly education, research and access to information, as reflected 
in the Berne Convention” as set out in the Preamble to the WIPO 
Copyright Treaty.

A treaty on access to knowledge and technology would be a key component 
in policy interventions to alleviate the situation in disadvantaged 
countries and would be of benefit to the overall socio-economic and 
political development of a country.	

Public interest NGOs fully support Proposal 5 of the adopted Work Plan 
that calls for the establishment of WERO.
The creation of an independent research office that would report 
directly to the General Assembly is an important component to the reform 
mandated by the General Assembly’s adoption of the Development Agenda. 
The creation of WERO would strengthen the oversight function of Member 
States at WIPO, enhance the credibility of WIPO and its programmess, and 
would comply with established international practice in other 
organizations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

As set forth in the FoD Proposal, the establishment of WERO would 
provide a transparent, independent and objective body that would 
evaluate all WIPO programmes and activities with respect to their 
development impact in general and their impact on innovation, creativity 
and dissemination of knowledge and technology; assess the development 
impact of all proposed norm-setting activities in WIPO; and monitor and 
evaluate all WIPO technical assistance activities based on guidelines 
established by the General Assembly.


We fully support the proposals which relate to Technical Assistance. 
These are Proposal 4 to Formulate and Adopt Principles and Guidelines 
for the Development and Implementation of Technical Assistance; Proposal 
10 to Improve Information Sharing on Technical Assistance; and Proposal 
14 to Develop Indicators and Benchmarks for the Evaluation of WIPO 
Technical Assistance.

We believe that these proposals would enhance the value of technical 
assistance to developing countries by providing opportunities to review 
technical assistance programmes and keep them fresh, to include new or 
alternative business and software models and to ensure that a 
cross-section of stakeholder interests are represented. Consultation 
with a wide range of groups such as libraries, educators, people with 
disabilities and consumers, as well as creators and rightsholders would 
help to build capacity and improve governance, a key component of the 
2005 Report of the Commission for Africa.

        A.  Weigh the costs and benefits of copyright, patent and trademark rights
Public interest NGOs fully support Proposal 7 of the adopted Work Plan 
to formulate and adopt principles and guidelines for norm-setting 
activities in WIPO. WIPO must acknowledge the costs and benefits of both 
information monopolies and harmonization.
Continuously expanding the scope and level of copyright, patent and 
trademark rights creates real social and economic costs. Norm-setting 
activities must follow guidelines that balance public access and 
competition policies against monopoly rights in knowledge and 
information, and that weigh the economic cost of maintaining and 
enforcing these systems against the relative benefits in each country.

In order to reach effective results that meet the challenges of global 
development, internationally agreed upon developmental standards should 
serve as benchmarks for WIPO norm-setting activities to meet. The United 
Nations Millennium Development Goals,  which all 191 UN Member States 
have pledged to meet, establish development standards that copyright, 
patent and trademark laws should seek to facilitate.

        B.  Copyright, patent and trademark rights are not ends in themselves 
and must foster   the public goals of innovation, creativity and 
technical development

Public interest NGOs fully support Proposal 8 of the adopted Work Plan 
to undertake independent, evidence-based “development impact assessments.”

International instruments recognize the underlying public goals of 
copyright, patent and trademark laws. The WIPO Copyright Treaty 
recognizes that copyright law serves “to maintain a balance between the 
interests of authors and the larger public interest, particularly 
education, research, and access to information.”  Trade Related Aspects 
of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) Art. 7 explicitly stipulates a balanced 
and harmonious outlook between these rights and the public interest.

It is essential that copyright, patent and trademark rights foster 
innovation, creativity and technical development. WIPO must adopt a 
framework that can ensure that these information monopolies advance 
public goals in developing countries. The FoD proposal for a Development 
Agenda at WIPO provides an excellent blueprint to begin this reform.
        C.  “One size (XL) fits all” approach to copyright, patent and 
trademark rights does not foster development in all countries

International norms for copyright, patent and trademark rights need to 
take into account different levels of development to ensure that the 
primary rationale for granting the rights, to promote societal 
development by encouraging technological innovation, is actually 

Expansive copyright, patent and trademark rights disproportionately 
favor wealthy developed countries and perpetuate the current imbalance 
in access to and control of knowledge and information. Copyright, patent 
and trademark laws must reflect each country’s development needs to 
better facilitate access to information and knowledge throughout the 
world. Such access is strongly called for in the “Doha Plan of Action” 
agreed by the Heads of State and Government of the Group of 77 and China 
  and in the “Declaration of Principles” of the World Summit on the 
Information Society .

All countries have a right to make their own economic development 
strategies, which are inherently value based. Articles 1 and 8 of TRIPS 
recognize both national sovereignty concerning development strategies 
and national values.   WIPO’s “one-size-fits-all” approach improperly 
assumes that western intellectual property policy embodies universal 

        D.  Copyright, patent and trademark laws need to protect flexibilities 
and limitations

International instruments and developed countries’ own copyright, 
trademark and patent laws provide for flexibilities and limitations that 
ensure the promotion of social values. Competition policy, compulsory 
licenses for medicine, and fair use exceptions demonstrate that monopoly 
rights can be curtailed to achieve public benefits.
Countries need to have policy space to meet national developmental 
priorities. Creative expression is value driven and copyright, patent 
and trademark law governs what type of creative expression is either 
permissible or infringing, and what type of creative expression is 
“protectable” and to what extent. Since all Member States have a natural 
right to exercise their own values and the legal system is the principal 
means through which society can assert its values, all nations have a 
natural right to make value choices regarding their own level of 
copyright, patent and trademark rights.

WIPO technical assistance should promote the full range of flexibilities 
provided by TRIPS, including education and promotion of non-proprietary 
free and open access development models.

        E.  More transparent and Member driven with ongoing public interest 

Public interest NGOs fully support Proposals 6 and 9 of the adopted Work 
Plan which, respectively, seek to ensure wider participation of public 
interest NGOs at WIPO, and to establish a system of holding public 
hearings prior to the initiation of norm-setting activities.

The FoD proposal initiates an important dialogue on making fundamental 
changes to ensure that WIPO is truly Member driven, as the majority of 
WIPO constituents are from developing countries. In order to progress as 
a Member-driven organization, WIPO must address the development concerns 
of its Members in all aspects of its work.

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