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

H.E. Ambassador Dr. Lansana GBERIE

267.   The Swiss delegation would like to thank the United States of America for introducing submission IP/C/W/691 for the TRIPS Council's discussion today. Switzerland is pleased to co- sponsor the agenda item, as well as the Submission addressing the opportunities of licensing IP rights. Licensing can be implemented for patents, copyright, trademarks, and designs. All IP owners are able to employ licensing in different ways and to various extents. In this sense, it is important to actively promote this topic and understand the dynamics and the needs of the participants in this ecosystem. 268.   Licensing plays a central role for many intermediaries in the IP ecosystem and can be implemented in different ways and for various reasons. The importance of the issue for the Swiss economy is most evident in the trade of services. Services account for more than a third of total Swiss foreign trade and have increased sharply in the last decade. In terms of exports in the service sector, license fees for the use of IP are the most important with a share of 23% and, along with R&D, demonstrate the highest growth. Licensing fees also account for 14% of imports.5 In this context, licensing is used by spin-offs, artists who want to spread their work to a larger audience and large companies that are active at the international level. There exist no specific obligations on licensing contracts in Swiss legislation; the parties to a licensing agreement are free to negotiate all aspects of it. Due to the diversity and freedom in licensing, there are different services available to provide assistance during the licensing process. 269.   Firstly, at Swiss universities, technology transfer offices manage and negotiate the terms and conditions for the licensing of IPRs. Secondly, in the area of copyright protection, five collective management organizations help to make licensing more efficient. The technology transfer offices and the collective management organizations use their knowledge to help design an optimal licensing strategy and support the actual rights holders in the respective area. 270.   The Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) conducted a study on IP support services for SMEs which not only examined the existing IP services, but also the needs of SMEs and close intermediaries. In this context, those surveyed highlighted the importance of active licensing – not only for generating revenue but also for encouraging collaboration and taking advantage of synergies between partners with different key competencies. However, the study also highlighted a number of challenges associated with licensing. As mentioned, under Swiss legislation, license agreements, which are sui generis contracts, can be freely negotiated between the parties, which can put smaller, inexperienced companies at a disadvantage vis-à-vis larger partners with the support of legal departments specialized in the field. Therefore, some participants in the study asked for legislation that provides standard solutions and binding templates for licensing agreements. This in turn is considered undesirable by other stakeholders who emphasize the individual features licensing contracts should be able to incorporate in order to appropriately reflect the needs of different partners in a specific license agreement. 271.   The IPI is also active in respect of awareness raising. With regard to the previously mentioned challenges, the IPI recommends that businesses and organizations retain a specialized attorney for negotiating and writing licensing contracts. A list of specialists in this field is available on the IPI website, which should help right holders to work out the best possible licensing strategy for their needs.6 General information as well as a checklist with the most important considerations for a licensing strategy are also available on the IPI's website. For Swiss IP specialists and patent attorneys, the IPI offers specific training modules on the subject of licensing.7 272.   Licensing can provide tremendous opportunities for a wide variety of businesses and is applicable for all IP rights. Due to the wide variety in licensing contracts, it is important to identify the needs of a specific organization first in order to use this legal instrument in a beneficial and efficient manner. We are looking forward to learning from the other delegations on their national experience and to sharing best practices with one another. We would like also to thank all the Members that have already made a statement on this agenda item.

The Council took note of the statements made.
60. The Chair recalled that this item had been put on the agenda at the request of Australia; Canada; the European Union; Hong Kong, China; Japan; Singapore; Switzerland; Chinese Taipei; the United Kingdom; and the United States. A communication with the same title had been circulated (document ).
61. The representatives of the United States; Australia; Uruguay; Singapore; Chinese Taipei; Japan; the United Kingdom; the European Union; Switzerland; Canada; Hong Kong, China; China; Chile; and World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) took the floor.
62. The Council took note of the statements made.
IP/C/M/105, IP/C/M/105/Add.1, IP/C/M/105/Corr.1

5 Die Volkswirtschaft. 2021.

6 IGE Checkliste. 2022.

7 IGE Modul. 2022.