Over the last two weeks, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and World Trade Organization (WTO) welcomed twenty three government officials for the third joint WIPO-WTO Advanced Course on Intellectual Property (IP). Participants were from: Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Jordan, Maldives, Mexico, Peru, Senegal, The United Republic of Tanzania, Turkey, Viet Nam and Zambia.
This advanced course, which is the third of its kind, embodies the highest level of learning as part of the progressive learning strategy of the WTO. This course is also in conformity with the mandate of the WIPO Academy which is to provide IP education and training. The course sought to improve the participants understanding of WIPO and WTO rules and treaties on IP, improve their understanding of important policy issues in the area of IP under discussion in WIPO and the WTO and to improve their capability to assess the implications of IP on their economies. The course represents invaluable cooperation between the WTO and WIPO, enabling the delivery of a programme that provides each organization to complement the other's area of expertise as well as providing a platform for the involvement of other key players in the field of IP. The course is designed to ensure progressively higher levels of understanding in the area of IP in order to equip the participants with the necessary tools to help formulate policies that will facilitate the development process in their respective countries. In addition, it will enable participants to work together with other stakeholders in their constituencies to attain efficiency and higher use and management of IP.
The course consisted of a combination of presentations followed by discussion sessions, panel deliberations, as well as practical exercises on a wide range of issues. These issues included, among others: law, policy and development and IP; the different agreements and conventions governing IP; IP and its relation to economic development, international trade, public health particularly with respect to access to medicines, climate change and competition policy. Overviews were given on the current international landscape in copyrights, trademarks, industrial designs, geographical indications and patents. The WTO Dispute Settlement and TRIPS, traditional knowledge and folklore, IP enforcement and technical assistance and capacity building in the area of IP were also covered. In addition, the participants benefited from sessions involving delegates dealing with different IP issues in Geneva as well as staff from various entities including among others, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the World Health Organization (WHO), International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), General Electric, and International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD).
The course was opened by Mr. Pascal Lamy, Director-General of the WTO, who said that “The cooperation between WIPO and WTO exemplifies how IP has moved to the centre of cross-cutting debates that defy traditional boundaries between separate policy domains, and between distinct areas of technical expertise”. In addition, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, Deputy Director General of WIPO stated that “WIPO is working closely with its Member States to develop IP policies and carefully formulate national innovation strategies which take into consideration levels of economic, social and cultural development”.
Overall, the participants considered the course a success, particularly due to the high quality of presentations and the rich content of the subject areas covered. Continued partnership between WIPO and WTO was strongly encouraged.