U.S. Statement at Opening of WIPO General Assembly

Assemblies of the Member States of WIPO
Fifty-Fourth Series of Meetings
Geneva, Switzerland
September 22 to 30, 2014
General Statement of the United States of America 

Thank you, Madame Chair.

The United States is pleased to see you again chairing the General Assembly, and also welcomes back your vice chairs.  We are confident that through your leadership our discussions will be productive during this meeting.

We also thank the Secretariat for the timely presentation and comprehensiveness of the working documents.

Due to the limited amount of time to deliver opening statements, I will now provide an abbreviated version of our full statement.  The full statement will be transmitted to the Secretariat for inclusion in the final report.

The United States fully endorses the statement delivered earlier by the distinguished delegate of Japan on behalf of Group B.

On the normative side, we have made excellent progress on the draft Design Law Treaty, and the United States fully supports the convening of a Diplomatic Conference to conclude this treaty.  We believe that any outcome relating to technical assistance for this treaty should be decided at the Diplomatic Conference and not at this General Assembly session.

The United States also welcomes progress being made in discussions of the proposed Broadcasting Treaty and we will continue to engage constructively in these discussions.  We also favor work aimed at developing shared principles and objectives and improving national limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives as well as educational and research institutions and for persons with other disabilities.  We do not, however, support binding norm-setting in these areas.

Regarding discussions in the Intergovernmental Committee on IP and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge, and Folklore (IGC), we are willing to continue the discussions next year.  Despite the diligent efforts of the IGC, including the Chair, his vice chairs and facilitators, it is abundantly clear that Members are far from agreement on even the most fundamental provisions in the draft texts.  In fact, there are over 300 brackets in the three draft texts indicating a complete lack of maturity of all three.

Madame Chair, the United States would like to reiterate its long-held position that consideration of a Diplomatic Conference on the IGC texts is premature, and therefore we oppose any General Assembly decision that would set any specific timeframe or date for a Diplomatic Conference on any of the three IGC draft texts.

On the topic of meeting management, the United States believes that WIPO convenes too many meetings at too great an expense to the organization and to Member States.  Given the breakdown of several committee meetings this year and the overall lack of progress in most, we propose that WIPO convene fewer meetings next year.  Too many meetings lead to no outcomes, involve discussion solely on process, or degrade to the point where members cannot even agree on adoption of the agenda for the meeting.  Reducing the frequency of meetings would decrease the amount of funding spent by WIPO and Member States on travel and could create a more issue-focused environment.  We welcome the willingness of the PBC Chair to conduct informal consultations on this very important issue following the Assemblies.

Madame Chair, I would like to recall that WIPO’s role as spelled out in the WIPO Convention is “to promote the protection of IP”. This objective has not been changed by the Development Agenda (DA). Instead, the DA was intended “to ensure that development considerations form an integral part of WIPO’s work”, not to obstruct such work.

The United States welcomes the selection of the new proposed WIPO Senior Management Team (SMT).  We recognize it represents an impressive range of experience and expertise from across the globe, and are pleased that it includes Mr. John Sandage, who is highly-regarded both domestically and internationally. We are confident that he will bring great talent and make significant contributions to the Organization.  We would like to express our appreciation to the outgoing SMT for their accomplishments and excellent service to WIPO and its member states. And, we thank Deputy Director General Pooley for his many positive contributions to this Organization over the past six years, and we wish him the very best in his future endeavors.

The United States has asked that an agenda item at this week’s Coordination Committee meeting provide for the opportunity for that relevant governing body to provide advice to the Lisbon Union Assembly regarding the convening of a Diplomatic Conference for the adoption of a revised Lisbon Agreement on Appellations of Origin and Geographical Indications in 2015. We look forward to further discussions on this issue with the Secretariat and Member States when we address that agenda item this week.

Madame Chair, our delegation will have many interventions in the Audit and Oversight portion of this meeting.  We will make proposals to further improve the strength of these WIPO functions.

The United States will continue to work with the Secretariat and other Member States to create a better functioning, more transparent and effective World Intellectual Property Organization.  We will continue to ensure that WIPO services are world-class, and that promotion of appropriate protection and respect for Intellectual Property Rights continues to be the major emphasis of the Organization.