WORLD INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ORGANIZATION
European Parliament ASP 08 H 246 Rue Wiertz 60 1047 Brussels Belgium
Dear Members of the European Parliament
Thank you for your communication dated April 15, 2010, requesting information on a range of issues relating to WI PO's role in the field of intellectual property enforcement, participation in the Organization's norm-setting processes, and certain aspects relating to the draft Anti-Counterfeiting Agreement (ACTA). Let me start by welcoming your interest in the work of WIPO, and in engaging in a dialogue with the Organization on those matters.
I should like to emphasize at the outset that WIPO has at no stage been party or observer to the ACTA negotiations. WIPO is a member-driven Organization with clearly defined responsibilities. The work of the WIPO Secretariat is guided by the decisions of WIPO Member States within relevant WIPO bodies, in line with WIPO's rules and procedures. In the area of intellectual property enforcement, this includes the decision taken by all WIPO Member States, in 2002, to exclude norm-setting from the mandate of the WIPO Advisory Committee on Enforcement (ACE), detailed below. In line with this, you will understand that, without a specific request from its Member States, the WIPO Secretariat is not in a position to undertake the requested assessment of the need for new global norms on intellectual property enforcement, nor could it comment on substantive provisions developed in the context of ACTA.
I am pleased, however, to provide you with additional information relating to the norm-setting process at WIPO in general, and the role of the Organization in enforcement-related matters.
1. Transparency and participation in IP negotiations at WIPO
WIPO is a specialized agency of the United Nations. The Organization is dedicated to developing a balanced and accessible IP system which rewards creativity, stimulates innovation and contributes to economic development while safeguarding the public interest. In that sense, WIPO has a long tradition as the principal forum for the balanced evolution of the international normative framework for IP. The notion of balance is critical to ensure effective responses to the particular needs and interests of countries at different stages of development. As of today, WIPO administers 24 such international treaties (for details please see http://www. wipo. intltreaties/en/).
Norm-setting at WIPO is a participatory, inclusive and member-driven process. It ensures participation of all 184 WIPO Member States as well as a large number of stakeholders. Currently, some 250 organizations are accredited as observers at WIPO meetings. The Organization is committed to further enhancing a wide participation of indigenous and local communities and civil society at large, in line with the Organization's very liberal accreditation criteria (available at http://www.wipo.int/members/en/admission/observers.html).
The WIPO General Rules of Procedure (http://www.wipo. int/edocs/pubdocs/en/2002/wipo_pub_399.pdf) establish a variety of measures that ensure transparency and participation in the work of WIPO's norm-setting bodies. These measures include, for instance, the convocation of meetings through official channels; time limits for such convocations; the making available of meeting agendas and working documents prior to meetings; the translation of working documents; and reporting on meetings.
Additional principles are set out in the WIPO Development Agenda, adopted by WIPO Member States in 2007 (http://www. wipo. intlip-development/en/agenda/recommendations.html). They address, for example, informal, open and balanced consultations, prior to any norm-setting activities, promoting the participation of experts particularly from developing countries and least developed countries (LDCs). Moreover, any meetings or consultations relating to norm-setting at WIPO are to be held primarily in Geneva, in a manner that is open and transparent to all Members. Where such meetings are to take place outside Geneva, Member States are informed well in advance through official channels.
Based on its long experience in international norm-setting relating to IP, WIPO is committed to ensuring inclusive, transparent processes. This has proven to be of critical importance in ensuring an informed international dialogue that responds to the needs and interests of all WIPO Member States and stakeholders and, based on a broad consensus, eventually permits the development of sustainable normative solutions.
2. WIPO's work program in the field of intellectual property enforcement
The work of WIPO in the field of IP enforcement is guided by Strategic Goal VI "Building Respect for IP" of the WIPO Program and Budget ( http://www.wipo.int/exportisites/www/aboutwipo/en/budget/pdf/budget201 O_2011.pdf), adopted in the spirit of Recommendation No. 45 of the WIPO Development Agenda. It is a broad, cross-cutting goal which is more inclusive than the narrower concept of enforcement, in the interest of broader societal interests, development oriented concerns and consumer protection. The focus is on international cooperation; on supporting a constructive and balanced international policy dialogue; and on legal and technical assistance to WIPO Member States, upon request, to strengthen their capacities for the effective enforcement of IP rights (for details please see http://www.wipo.int/enforcement/en/activities/).
Under a cooperation Agreement with the World Trade Organization (WTO), this assistance includes, inter alia, legislative advice to developing countries relating to the TRIPS Agreement.
The WIPO forum for the international policy dialogue on IP enforcement issues is the above-mentioned ACE. This Committee has a very specific mandate, namely, coordination with certain organizations and the private sector to combat counterfeiting and piracy; public education; assistance; coordination to undertake national and regional training programs for all relevant stakeholders, and exchange of information on enforcement issues.
Norm-setting has been explicitly excluded by WIPO Member States (Paragraph 114 (ii) of document WO/GN28/7). At its last session, held in November 2009, the ACE decided to deepen its work on the economic perspective of counterfeiting and piracy. All working documents of the ACE and conclusions by the Chair are publicly available at http://www.wipo.int/enforcement/en/acel..
3. Institutional matters
Finally, your letter raises the question of possible co-operation between WIPO and a future ACTA Secretariat. Generally, international cooperation is one of the key pillars of WIPO's work in the field of IP enforcement, and the WIPO Secretariat maintains close cooperation with a large number of international IGOs and NGOs throughout its enforcement-related activities. This cooperation includes, for instance, the partnering with Interpol, the World Customs Organization (WCO) and the private sector in the organization of the Global Congresses on Combating Counterfeiting and Piracy (details at http://www.ccapcongress.net/index.htm).
I should like to reiterate, however, that WIPO has not participated in any capacity in the ACTA negotiations, nor have there been consultations between the WIPO Secretariat and the ACTA negotiating parties at any stage. We therefore do not have any information as to the objectives of the parties, including the potential role of international organizations in a future ACTA Secretariat. To date, WIPO has not been approached or received any request concerning such co-operation and again, the Organization's response would be guided by the decisions of its Member States.
I hope that the above information proves useful and helps clarifying the role and specific mandate of WIPO in the area of building respect for IP. Should you wish to receive any additional information on the issues mentioned above, please do not hesitate to contact Mrs. Louise van Greunen, Director, Building Respect for IP Division (firstname.lastname@example.org), for further assistance.