Minutes - TRIPS Council - View details of the intervention/statement

Ambassador Al-Otaibi (Kingdom of Saudi-Arabia)
World Trade Organization
10. Since 2009, in response to the request from the Chair of the General Council, the Council has considered how to improve the timeliness and completeness of notifications and other information flows. The Secretariat has progressively updated the Council on the work being done in this direction. All this work takes place entirely within the guidelines of notifications already set within the TRIPS Agreement itself and the guidelines and procedures agreed by this Council. 11. The focus has thus been on practical ways of improving how we work with this information and ensuring that it is more user-friendly and more transparent, principally so that it is easier for Members to use when updating their notifications and when consulting this information. 12. As illustrated during previous updates by the Secretariat, the current gateway for TRIPS notifications and reports is the WTO Documents Online Database, which presents difficulties in locating any particular document, determining its content, and then consulting and using the document. This is particularly the case for earlier documents, which were of necessity randomly split into multiple files due to size limitations at the time. Earlier technological limitations also meant that many documents were in an unusable image form, unsuitable for consulting and obtaining information. 13. Since the last update provided to the TRIPS Council of October 2015, much progress has been made on two main fronts: The first concerns transforming "legacy documents" into workable data. This exercise has involved identifying data points in each notification and sorting them into around 14,000 data records and spreadsheets. 14. Taking the Article 63.2 IP law and regulation notifications as an example, this transformation process required identifying, for instance, the date of entry into force as indicated on the notification document, and inserting that date into a cell. As a result, a user will be able to quickly identify the date of entry into force for each notified law. 15. This spreadsheet is an interim tool for preparing the data. What Members will see and use when this transformation is complete will be a user-friendly online database which delegates can use to search for and extract pieces of data, to be designed in consultation with interested delegates. The option will remain, as for today, to access and download the document on WTO Documents On Line. 16. The second front on which much progress has been made is the online submission gateway.1 We have reported on the development of an online gateway as a strictly optional tool for Members to use when updating their notifications (existing methods of notification will still be available). 17. From October 2015 to present, the online submission gateway has undergone intensive testing in order to ensure the programme is, at this very initial stage, stable enough for internal use. We are now using the online submission gateway internally to process notifications – mainly Article 63.2 IP law and regulation notifications, but also contact points. 18. The system has been designed to capture valuable pieces of data. For example, with regard to the Article 63.2 IP law and regulation notifications, the online form allows the user to indicate if the law being notified is an amendment, and also indicate any previous notifications of that same law. This feature was designed with the present state of affairs in mind: nearly 30% of laws that are being notified are now amendments to consolidations of earlier notifications, and this proportion is expected to increase sharply. 19. Although a lot of focus has been placed on notifications of IP laws and regulations under Article 63.2, the online submission gateway will allow the user to submit other TRIPS information as well – in particular other TRIPS Council notifications and input to review processes. 20. The aim is to make the online submission gateway as user-friendly and intuitive as possible in order to simplify your task, and we are working intensively within the Secretariat to this end. That said, as it is simply an optional refinement of the service available to you, working within the existing framework, and other methods of providing notifications would remain available. 21. In the near future we will be inviting delegates and Members to test the system, to provide feedback, and to give us direction before the system is finalised and put into operation online. 22. In addition, the Secretariat proposes to hold an additional informal meeting tomorrow where we will explore this project in further detail, as the basis for continued consultations with interested delegations in coming months.
The Council took note of the statements made.
1.1. The Chairman said that, since its meeting in October 2015, the Council had received a number of updates to earlier notifications of laws and regulations notified under Article 63.2 of the Agreement:

• Chinese Taipei had notified the Patent Attorney Act in its amended version of July 2015; the Regulations for the Deposit of Biological Material for Patent Application; and the Operational Directions Governing the Mutual Cooperation between the Intellectual Property Office (TIPO) and Japan Patent Office in the Field of Deposit of Biological Materials for the Purposes of Patent Procedure;

• Hong Kong, China had notified its Patents Ordinance Order 2015; the Registered Designs Ordinance Regulation 2015; the Trademarks Ordinance Regulation 2015; and the Layout-Designs (Topography) of Integrated Circuits Regulation 2015; and

• Japan had notified its Unfair Competition Prevention Act, as amended in 2015.

1.2. These notifications of laws and regulations were available in the IP/N/1- series of documents, and the actual texts of laws in sub-series of documents in electronic form on the Documents Online database.

1.3. No new or updated responses to the Checklist of Issues on Enforcement had been submitted since the Council's meeting in October 2015. He encouraged delegations that were yet to do so to submit their initial responses to the Checklist. He also invited other delegations that had submitted responses to consider updating the information provided, as appropriate.

1.4. As regards notifications of contact points under Article 69 for the exchange of information and cooperation on trade in infringing goods, since the Council's meeting in October 2015, Kazakhstan had notified a contact point under Article 69 for the first time. The information on the Members' transparency toolkit page had been updated accordingly.

1.5. The Chair particularly encouraged delegations that had notified a new or revised legislative measure, or a new or updated response to the enforcement checklist to briefly inform the Council about the key points of the notified amendment or information provided. Most new notifications were revisions or amendments of existing notifications. Several delegations had followed this practice at recent sessions of the Council. This had provided valuable insight into the notifications provided and had assisted in promoting awareness and transparency.

1.6. The representatives of Chinese Taipei; Japan; Hong Kong, China briefly introduced their respective measures notified. The representative of South Africa also took the floor.

1.7. The Chairman urged those Members whose initial notifications of laws and regulations remained incomplete to submit the outstanding material without delay. Equally, he urged other Members to fulfil their obligation under the TRIPS Agreement to notify any subsequent amendments of their laws and regulations without delay after their entry into force.

1.8. He especially encouraged Members to notify changes made to their laws and/or regulations to implement the Decision on TRIPS and public health. At least 51 WTO Members, including many of the world's major exporters of medicines, had adopted implementing legislation that allows them to use the Paragraph 6 System as exporters and/or importers. Only 18 Members had formally notified such measures to the TRIPS Council. Completing the notification of all relevant laws and regulations could assist Members in preparing for the potential use of the System. It would also help the Secretariat in its efforts to provide informed technical support to Members in this area.

1.9. The representative of the Secretariat provided a brief update on the state of play of the e-TRIPS project to improve the user-friendliness and cost-effectiveness of the notification system.

1.10. The Council took note of the statements made.

IP/C/M/81, IP/C/M/81/Add.1

1 Illustrated in room document RD/IP/8.