|A Comparison of Self-Evaluating State Reporting Systems (International Committee of the Red Cross , 1995, 63 p.)|
The purpose of the WIPO is the promotion of respect for and the protection and use of intellectual property through cooperation among States. Its main activities consist in establishing international norms and standards in the field of intellectual property, especially through international treaties or model laws; administering treaties that embody such norms and standards, also treaties that facilitate the filing of applications for the protection of inventions, trademarks and industrial designs; and providing information on industrial property, especially the legal-technical information contained in patent documents and in the International Register of Trademarks. The WIPO also carries out a substantial programme of legal and technical assistance to developing countries and countries in transition to a market economy.
The most important WIPO treaties are the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (1883) and the Bern Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (1971) (Paris and Bern Conventions). For a State to become a party to one of the Conventions, its national laws on the protection of industrial property (Paris) or on copyrights (Bern) must comply, largely, with the said Conventions. The incentive for States to become party is the fact that their national rights are protected in all countries party to this Convention. There are 106 States party to the Bern Convention and 120 States party to the Paris Convention, while 147 States are members of the WIPO.
A State sends a draft law to the International Bureau of the WIPO, which makes comments and recommendations on the compatibility of the law with the Convention. The State then revises the draft until the law is compatible and the State can become party to the Convention. In the Copyright Department, some 10 professionals and 3 or 4 secretaries and, in the Industrial Property Division, some 15 professionals and 6 or 7 secretaries deal with draft laws. Revised drafts may be produced by the States or by the WIPO, and revision may be done in the WIPO office in Geneva or by missions sent to States.
There are two other means of implementing the Conventions. Every two years a circular letter is sent to Member States, with a request for information on new laws. Approximately 60% of the States respond to these requests.33 It is also possible that a State already party to a Convention wishes to change obsolete laws and asks the WIPO for advice.
33 From an interview with Mr Eckstein, WIPO Geneva.
The WIPO has an extensive mechanism for helping States, at their request, to implement the intellectual property Conventions they have signed. The laws have to be constantly updated, because the Conventions change regularly. This aspect of the work of the WIPO is the responsability of the Development Cooperation Department, which assists in setting standards and in changing laws and institutions in countries. It has regional bureaus in Geneva (for Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe, for example), which have already provided much legal advice to developing countries and are now concentrating on the former socialist countries in Central and Eastern Europe.
The WIPO works with sponsored NGOs. ATRIP (Association for Teaching and Research of Intellectual Property) is an NGO that organizes lectures, meetings and fora. Close contact is also kept with universities.
The WIPO has no complaints procedure. This is one of the reasons for US criticism of the WIPO. Some of the WIPO mandates appear likely to be transferred to the new World Trade Organization (WTO), and some WIPO operations will then be terminated. The GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade), the predecessor to the WTO, has an enforcement system, the Treaty on the Settlement of Disputes: this works with panels of independent experts who make a report on a given situation; a follow-up report, describing how the State reacts to the fast report, is sent to the Assembly. The WIPO has a similar system ready in draft form.
Most of the work of the WIPO consists in registration of trademarks under the industrial-property Conventions, work to which 67% of the staff and thus of the staff budget are allocated. Under the internal budget, the WIPO is spending Sfr. 1,915,000 in 1994 on setting standards and procedures for the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights. Probably the real cost is higher, since the budget is subdivided into various activities that might turn out, on closer study, to be related to implementation.
The WIPO charges fees for helping industries to protect their trademarks under the national laws of countries. Although these fees are sufficient to cover WIPO expenditure Member States have insisted that they wish to continue to pay contributions, in order to be able to exert control over the organization. The Patent Cooperation Treaty Section is the department that helps industries to protect their patents in foreign countries; it is paid by these industries for its services. The WIPO consistently balances its budget.