Over the last two weeks, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and World Trade Organization (WTO) welcomed twenty four government officials for the fourth joint WIPO-WTO Advanced Course on Intellectual Property (IP). 

This advanced course embodies the highest level of learning as part of the progressive learning strategy of the WTO.  The course is also in conformity with the mandate of the WIPO Academy which is to provide IP education and training (www.wipo.int/academy/en). The main objective of the course was to update government officials on the activities and instruments of WIPO and the WTO, and to provide a forum for them to exchange information and ideas with the two Secretariats and with a range of policymakers and organizations based in Geneva. The course formed part of an overall strategy to build sufficient capacity within the governments of developing countries and countries with economies in transition to assess and analyse their policy options and to strengthen national expertise in relation to intellectual property. The course is designed 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.

Twenty participants were selected from developing countries and countries with economies in transition. Four additional officials from developed countries were also selected and participated at their own expense. Participants were from: Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Chile, China, Cuba, Germany, Ghana, India, Islamic Republic of Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Mexico, Montenegro, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Peru, Serbia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Tunisia and Zimbabwe.

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, inter alia:  law, policy and development and IP; the different international treaties 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.

The current international landscapes in copyrights, trademarks, industrial designs, geographical indications and patents were also addressed. The WTO Dispute Settlement System and TRIPS, IP enforcement, traditional knowledge and folklore, as well as 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 experts from the following institutions/entities: United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the World Health Organization (WHO), International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi), General Electric, the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturer’s Association, and the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD). 

The programme also featured a visit of Nestlé in Vevey, where their IP experts shared their firm’s experience in the field of IP, in particular on patents and trademarks.  

The course was opened by Mr. Francis Gurry, Director-General of WIPO, and Mr. Rufus Yerxa, Deputy Director-General of the WTO.  Mr. Gurry stressed the importance of innovation for development and that the world was placing great attention to intellectual property rights due to the increase of registration of patents, trademarks and industrial designs. It was also noted that there was change of geography due to large number of filings of IP rights from some of the developing countries. In addition, Mr. Rufus Yerxa stated that “Co-operative action between WIPO and the WTO is required in order to address the many pressing global problems that the world is facing, such as those related to climate change, food security, and public health”.

Interactivity was a major element of this course.  Several practical exercises were organized throughout the two week course and participants were encouraged to interact actively with the two Secretariats, as well as among themselves, with respect to the substance of the course and to share national experiences.   

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.

The course represents invaluable cooperation between the WTO and WIPO, materialized by the delivery of a programme that enables 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


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