Monday, May 15, 2006

WIPO hosts enforcement beauty contest (aka Advisory Committtee on Enforcement)

15 May 2006 (Monday)
Thiru Balasubramaniam
Morning Session

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is holding a beauty contest on enforcement, the third session of the Advisory Committee on Enforcement (ACE) which takes place at the WIPO headquarters in Geneva from 15-17 May 2006. For the first two days, presenters from Antigua & Barbuda, Australia, Brazil China, Lebanon, Malaysia, Nigeria, Romania, Serbia & Montenegro, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka and Switzerland will make interventions on "awareness raising, training and education in the field of IP enforcement". In addition, two industry group NGOs, the International Trademark Association (INTA) and the International Federation of Phonogram and Videogram Producers (IFPI) are also on the agenda. Although it may be too sweeping to label all the presentations thus far as panegyrics to the enforcement of "intellectual property", it would appear that the main purpose of the ACE is for WIPO Member States to engage in an exercise of self-congratulation under the guise of an information exchange on their respective enforcement, training, and awareness raising activities

The morning panel included the following speakers (see links for written presentations): (1) H.E. Mr. Ion Codescu, Secretary of State, Ministy of Justice, Romania, (2) Professor Dora N. Akunyili, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Director-General, Nigeria, and (3) Dr. Karunaratna, Director of Intellectual Property, IP Office, Sri Lanka.

Among the nuggets of information gleaned from the morning session was the fact that Romania ratified the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performers and Phonograms Treaty in 2001 as part of its efforts to harmonize its legislation above and beyond what is required by the TRIPS Agreement even before it was ratified by 15 original Member States of the European Union (Romania is the on the EU accession track). Professor Akunyili from Nigeria noted that parallel importation of pharmaceuticals was not permitted in Nigeria because it caused confusion in efforts to stem counterfeiting. One would hope that further discussions of this Advisory Committee on Enforcement do not further conflate the parallel importation of legitimate patented products with the practice of counterfeiting.