WIPO General Assemblies Statement by Ambassador Betty E. King

WIPO General Assemblies Statement

by Ambassador Betty King

September 21, 2010

 

Thank you, Mr Chairman,

Allow me to begin by welcoming and thanking the President of the World Intellectual Property Organization General Assembly, and also your vice-chairs. We are confident that you will ably guide our discussions this week. The US Delegation would also like to thank the International Bureau of WIPO for its hard work in preparing for these meetings. The documentation before us is both well drafted and comprehensive. I would also like to underline our support of the statement made by the distinguished delegate of Switzerland on behalf of Group B.

WIPO’s ongoing strategic re-alignment (SRP) process has worked to reform the Organization’s programs, resources and structures with a new set of strategic goals.  These have enabled WIPO to respond more effectively to the rapidly evolving technological, cultural and geo-economic environment, as well as to respond to the urgent global challenges of today, which IP can have a role in addressing.

Through the use of four-core values, the Strategic re-alignment will enable WIPO to achieve its strategic goals and to provide global leadership on intellectual property (IP) issues.  In particular, the core-value concerning accountability for results, will be key for WIPO in its work to achieve results and improve tracking of results and performance.

The United States underlines its complete support on the recent actions WIPO has taken to build a responsive and efficient Organization that is to meet its mandate in providing global leadership on intellectual property issues.  In particular, the Medium Term Strategic Plan (MTSP) for 2010 – 2015, the on-going result’s-based management framework initiative, and the Enterprise Resource Planning System (ERP) which this past Program and Budget Committee (PBC) took a decision on to devote significant resources to improving WIPO’s management and administration performance.

The United States greatly welcomes these efforts, and in particular, DG Gurry’s MTSP as it is an important contribution to this overall important process at WIPO to have accountability for results.

At a time when governments and businesses around the globe are struggling with economic difficulties, the U.S. also realizes it is more important than ever that WIPO continue to work to maintain tight fiscal discipline in the budget, and to include initiatives to increase efficiencies.

The United States also welcomes the agreement reached from the second session of the Working Group on the Audit Committee concerning the composition of the new Audit Committee.  This will enable WIPO and its Member States to continue to benefit from the oversight services of this new Committee next year.

The U.S. plans to continue to work with Member States and Director General Gurry to assist in the creation of a better functioning, more effective World Intellectual Property Organization that will improve its substantive work; establish its primacy on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) policy issues in the UN; and increase its IPR-related development activities, while making sure staffing and spending are streamlined, and respect for IPR continues to be the major emphasis of the organization.

The U.S. is increasing our coordination on IPR outreach with WIPO’s Communications and Outreach Section, and with several WIPO member countries.  We believe that improved awareness and education about the use and protection of IP is critical for improving the IPR system, and we are working with WIPO to better connect Member States, NGOs, the private sector and U.S. officials engaged in IPR outreach efforts.

With regard to the work of IP offices, the U.S. believes that Global Worksharing is key to helping us meet the increasing challenge of efficiently managing the workloads faced by offices throughout the world, while at the same time delivering the highest possible quality.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) currently has a number of worksharing projects underway with international offices.  For example, the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) framework is one important step toward the goal of maximizing reutilization of work done by other offices.

We are looking to increase participation in these worksharing projects by orders of magnitude so that we can truly see the benefits of worksharing, including genuine time and cost savings for applicants as well as patent offices worldwide.

How?  By looking for and removing unnecessary burdens for participation; by finding new office-led worksharing initiatives; and by listening to our applicants for new and better ways to reutilize the work of other offices.

To accomplish the goal of reutilizing work and maximizing the use of Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) work products, we have established a PCT Task Force within the USPTO that is looking into how the PCT can function more effectively.

For the USPTO to maximize its timeliness and quality, the Task Force will examine the USPTO’s actions as receiving Office, International Searching Authority, and International Preliminary Examination Authority.

With the Task Force’s review of our procedures, and input from PCT applicants and others, we hope to improve the USPTO’s PCT operations internally, as well as have further ideas on how to improve the PCT as a whole.

We are aiming to integrate the PCT into all of our worksharing efforts, including Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) and SHARE.

The U.S. Copyright Office and WIPO presented a joint International Training in March 2010 in Washington, D.C. for developing countries and countries in transition on emerging issues in copyright and related rights pertaining to persons with print disabilities.

The agenda included training on the relevant international legal and business frameworks, case studies on existing exceptions for the print disabled worldwide, technical standards for accessible materials, the role of trusted intermediaries, market considerations, and information reports on the Word Blind Union treaty proposal and WIPO’s Stakeholders Platform.  The Copyright Office plans to offer a similar training program on copyright issues affecting developing countries and countries in transition during the upcoming year.

The United States was honored that one of our own living cultural treasures – Mr. Stevie Wonder – was asked by Director-General Gurry to address the assembly on an issue that is very important to the United States in its work at the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR): the establishment of proper, effective international legal norms to provide copyrighted materials to persons with print disabilities.  This is one of several issues before the SCCR, but we believe it is one on which progress can and should be achieved quickly.

The United States believes profoundly that copyright law fosters creativity, supports economic development and is, in the words of our Supreme Court, an “engine of free expression.”  At the same time, we are committed to policies – domestic and international — that ensure everyone has a chance to get the information and education they need, to live independently as full citizens in their communities, and to participate in cultural life.

After extensive consultations domestically, the United States Government concluded that new legal norms are needed in international copyright law to address the needs of persons with print disabilities.

It has become clear to us that the most pressing problem – the one identified repeatedly by experts – is the cross-border distribution of special format materials made for persons with print disabilities, whether these special format materials are made under copyright exceptions in national law or special licensing arrangements.  Therefore, the United States believes that WIPO’s first goal should be to reach international consensus on the cross-border exchange of special format materials for persons with print disabilities in all countries.

To this end, in June 2010, the United States proposed a “consensus instrument” that could unequivocally establish new international norms for the exportation and importation of special format copies – first, as a Joint Recommendation of these General Assemblies.

We further believe this initial Joint Recommendation could be a step toward the development of a treaty establishing basic copyright limitations and exceptions for persons with print disabilities.

The United States acknowledges the other proposal that have been made, all demonstrating WIPO’s genuine engagement on this issue.  These include [a] the introduction in 2009 by Brazil, Ecuador, and Paraguay of a proposed treaty for copyright exceptions for persons with print disabilities that had been drafted by Knowledge Ecology, the World Blind Union, the DAISY consortium, and other, [b] the European Union’s 2010 proposal for a General Assemblies Joint Recommendation, and [c] the African Group’s own broader proposal in 2010 for a protocol on copyright exceptions and limitations.

Stevie Wonder’s songs are full of optimism and hope, seasoned by realism and having known life’s challenges.  His songs reminds us that “every problem has an answer” and that we should all be living for and working toward a “future paradise.”  Building that better future for persons with print disabilities will require commitment and compromise from all WIPO Members, but the United States believes that we can and should make immediate progress on answers to this problem.

Mr. Chairman, be assured that the United States will constructively engage in our discussions this week with the aim of finding outcomes that are acceptable to all WIPO Member States.

We wish you every success in your role as Chairman of this Assembly.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.