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The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is one of the specialized agencies of the United Nations. WIPO was created in 1967 with the stated purpose of encouraging creative activity and promoting the protection of intellectual property throughout the world.

WIPO currently has 150 plus member states, administers over 20 international treaties, and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

History Edit

The predecessor to WIPO was the United International Bureau for the Protection of Intellectual Property, which had been set up in 1893 to administer the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property.

WIPO was formally created by the Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization and as amended on September 28, 1979). Under Article 3 of this Convention, WIPO seeks to "promote the protection of intellectual property throughout the world." WIPO became a specialized agency of the UN in 1974, as above-mentioned.

Unlike other branches of the United Nations, WIPO has significant financial resources independent of the contributions from its Member States. In 2006, over 90% of its income was expected to be generated from the collection of fees by the International Bureau (IB) under the intellectual property application and registration systems which it administers (the Patent Cooperation Treaty, the Madrid system for trade marks and the Hague system for industrial designs.

Critique Edit

As with all United Nations multi-government forums, WIPO is not an elected body. Some argue that WIPO does not therefore act in the interests of citizens as the representatives of its member states are either not democratic or are highly abstracted government agencies which are only lobbied effectively by major corporations. WIPO usually attempts to reach decisions by consensus, but in any vote, each Member State is entitled to one vote, regardless of population or contribution to the funding. This is important, because there is a significant North-South divide in the politics of intellectual property. During the 1960s and 1970s, developing nations were able to block expansions to intellectual property treaties, such as universal pharmaceutical patents which might have occurred through WIPO.

In the 1980s, this led to the United States and other developed countries "forum shifting" intellectual property standard-setting out of WIPO and into the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which later evolved into the World Trade Organization, where the North had greater control of the agenda. This strategy paid dividends with the enactment of Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.

Much of the important work is done through committees, including for example the Standing Committee on Patents (SCP), the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), the Advisory Committee on Enforcement (ACE), and the Intergovernmental Committee (IGC) on Access to Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore, and the Working Group on Reform of the Patent Cooperation Treaty.

In October 2004, WIPO agreed to "adopt a proposal offered by Argentina and Brazil, the "Proposal for the Establishment of a Development Agenda for WIPO" - from the Geneva Declaration on the Future of the World Intellectual Property Organization. This proposal was well supported by developing countries, and by a large contingent of civil society. A number of civil society bodies have been working on a draft Access to Knowledge, or A2K, Treaty which they would like to see introduced.

See also Edit

External links Edit

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