Consumer Groups Urge Change At WIPO

William New, September 22, 2004M
National Journal Tech Daily

The World Intellectual Property Organization change in order to serve humanity, U.S. and European consumer representatives said this week in Geneva.

At a meeting of the Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue, participants concluded that "humanity faces a global crisis in the governance of knowledge, technology and culture" when there are "astoundingly promising innovations in information, medical and other essential technologies."

But spreading the benefits of those innovations will depend on who is empowered to benefit from them, the group, which consists of European Union and U.S. consumer groups, said in a declaration on the future of WIPO circulated by the Consumer Project on Technology (CPT). "Much will depend upon the future direction of [WIPO], a global body setting standards that regulate the production, distribution and use of knowledge," the declaration said.

WIPO's original mission upon joining the United Nations in 1974 was to "promote creative intellectual activity." But instead, the group said, the organization has "embraced a culture of creating and expanding monopoly privileges, often without regard to consequences," and its actions have harmed creativity.

Therefore, the group recommended that WIPO enable its members to understand the economic and social consequences of excessive intellectual property protections, and the importance of striking a balance between the public domain and property rights.

The group backed a proposal by Argentina and Brazil that WIPO establish a development agenda. It also called for a moratorium on new treaties and on harmonizing standards that "expand and strengthen monopolies and further restrict access to knowledge." That would include halting current work on treaties on patent law, broadcasters' rights and databases.

European Commission and U.S. officials at the meeting appeared comfortable with the idea of WIPO's copyright committee taking up the database treaty despite concerns by consumer groups, according to Manon Ress

Return to: CPTech Home -> Main IP Page -> CPTech Page on WIPO -> Geneva Declaration on the Future of WIPO