October 9, 2019
Delegates from WIPO’s 192 member states closed their 2019 Assemblies meetings with agreement on the Organization’s work program and related budget for the 2020-21 biennium, while WIPO’s intellectual property (IP)-related treaties attracted nearly a dozen new adherents.
Over 1,200 delegates met September 30 – October 9, 2019, for negotiations on a wide range of issues related to the WIPO-administered international IP framework, which supports the creation and cross-border flow of innovative and creative works that improve lives everywhere.
Delegates approved the WIPO program and budget for the 2020-21 biennium. During that period, revenue is projected to rise to CHF 882.8 million, a 6.4% increase over the previous biennium, while expenditures are expected to total 768.4 million, leaving a projected surplus of CHF 95.8 million.
“We are implementing significant changes to improve the efficiency of our operations, capitalizing on new technologies to adapt to a rapidly evolving global knowledge economy where intellectual property rights play an increasingly central role,” said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. “I welcome member states’ approval of the future work program for the WIPO Secretariat,” he said.
As negotiations continued, member states took the opportunity to join WIPO’s treaties, with 11 new accessions or ratifications among WIPO’s 26 treaties (in chronological order of deposit):
Among their work during the WIPO Assemblies, delegates (in order of the Agenda):
- Approved the procedures for the appointment of the Director General in 2020.
- Decided on the composition of the Coordination Committee, which is the body that nominates the Director General for appointment by the WIPO General Assembly.
- Deferred consideration of the 10 current applications for external offices pending the results of an evaluation in 2021 of the existing external office network, with a view to opening up to four new WIPO external offices in the 2022-23 biennium.
- Approved the Capital Master Plan for the Organization for the period 2020-29. Projects under the Capital Master Plan will enable the timely planning of required capital investments to ensure that WIPO remains fit for purpose and is able to carry out its mandate, and to reduce the need for reactive and emergency repairs, and the elimination or mitigation of environmental, security, health and/or safety risks.
- Decided to implement a new system for producing records of WIPO meetings that would lead to significant time and cost savings, capitalizing on recent developments in digital technologies, including artificial intelligence.
- Invited the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) to continue its work towards reaching consensus on the fundamental issues on the protection of broadcasting organizations and convening a Diplomatic Conference for the adoption of a treaty, aiming for the 2020/2021 biennium. The Assembly also directed the SCCR to continue its work on other issues, including limitations and exceptions, the artist’s resale royalty right, copyright in the digital environment, and the rights of theater directors.
- Decided that, at its session in September 2020, to continue considering the convening of a diplomatic conference on the Design Law Treaty, to take place at the end of the first half of 2021. The agreement would benefit designers seeking design protection by simplifying and harmonizing a number of filing rules that currently vary greatly by country.
- Agreed on the renewal of the mandate of the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (the IGC) for the 2020-2021 biennium, as well as the work plan for the IGC for the biennium. According to the agreed mandate, the IGC will continue to expedite its work with the objective of finalizing an agreement on an international legal instrument(s), without prejudging the nature of outcome(s), relating to IP which will ensure the balanced and effective protection of genetic resources, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions. The General Assembly recognized the importance of the participation of indigenous peoples and local communities in the work of the IGC, encouraged member states to consider contributing to the WIPO Voluntary Fund, and invited member states to consider other alternate funding arrangements. The Governments of Finland and Germany pledged to contribute 15,000 euros each to the Voluntary Fund.
- Adopted amendments to the Patent Cooperation Treaty regulations to give applicants additional safeguards in case of IT outages at Offices and more opportunities to correct errors and omissions in an international application, to improve transmission of fees between Offices and to increase transparency of international preliminary examination.
- Agreed to maintain the eligibility criteria for PCT fee reductions for certain applicants from certain countries for a further five years.
- Adopted amendments to the Regulations under the Madrid Protocol that will clarify certain requirements concerning the recording of a change in ownership and of the division of an international registration; guide users and IP Offices on replacement, under which an international registration replaces a previous national or regional registration; and, simplify the renewal of international registrations.
- Agreed that the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center will continue work with member states to develop and promote ways of resolving IP disputes outside the courts. The Center also informed member states that it had received a record number of Internet domain name cases filed by trademark holders.
- Noted the rapid progress of the Marrakesh Treaty in gaining contracting parties: 47 additional member states are covered by the Treaty since the 2018 Assemblies, with a current total of 61 contracting parties covering 88 member states. The Assembly also heard a report from the Director General on the excellent results achieved by WIPO’s flagship public-private partnership, the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC). With the recent addition of Hachette Livre, the ABC Charter for Accessible Publishing now has 100 signatories.
- Commended the work of WIPO staff and broadly endorsed its Human Resources strategy and management. Member states noted that WIPO had again increased its productivity while keeping a stable workforce and welcomed progress in geographic diversity and gender parity.
WIPO member states organized a series of events and exhibitions, including (in chronological order) those hosted by Viet Nam, Russia, Finland, Italy, the Philippines, Thailand and Ukraine.
The General Assembly was chaired by Ambassador Duong Chi Dung, Viet Nam’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva. In closing remarks, he thanked delegations for their active engagement throughout the Assemblies.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is the global forum for intellectual property policy, services, information and cooperation. A specialized agency of the United Nations, WIPO assists its 192 member states in developing a balanced international IP legal framework to meet society’s evolving needs. It provides business services for obtaining IP rights in multiple countries and resolving disputes. It delivers capacity-building programs to help developing countries benefit from using IP. And it provides free access to unique knowledge banks of IP information.
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