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

H.E. Ambassador Dr Lansana GBERIE

308.   Let me begin by thanking Japan for introducing submission IP/C/W/697. Switzerland is pleased to be a co-sponsor and would like to thank the Members, who shared today their national experiences with the Council for TRIPS. 309.   Why is the Swiss IP office cooperating cross border with other IP offices? For three reasons. Let me start with the Swiss IPO perspective. A well-functioning, up-to date IP system is key for an innovative economy and sustainable growth. A regular exchange with Partner IP offices helps the Swiss IPO to keep abreast with the fast pace of developments in the legal, technical, and operational field of intellectual property, sharing lessons, learning from others, exchanging on what worked for them and what did not, to draw relevant conclusions for our own strategy and vision and taking necessary measures to adapt to these new developments. We consider this cross-border cooperation a win–win for both offices involved and beneficial for their efforts to develop the national IP system in an efficient and effective manner. 310.   Now, to the right holders' perspective. Transnational protection of intellectual property can be a complex and challenging affair for right holders, particularly MSMEs. Cooperation at the bilateral, regional and international level with other IP offices, including efforts to harmonize, simplify and facilitate procedures for the application, registration and administration of IPRs, keeping the operations and services of the IPO fit for purpose, benefits such the users of the IP system. 311.   Thirdly, our technical cooperation partners' perspective. Just as the Swiss IPO learns from others through cross-border cooperation, we share our own experiences and lessons learned with partner offices requesting assistance. Multi-year technical cooperation programmes enable targeted and result-oriented support to achieve progress in a specific field of priority of that partner, be in the IP norm-setting process, building up efficient IPR operations or training expert personnel to more successfully accomplish day-to-day work that their IP office performs. 312.   A couple of concrete examples hopefully help illustrate what my delegation just said in a very general manner about the benefits of cross border IPO cooperation. At the regional level, Switzerland interacts extensively with the European Patent Office (EPO), recognizing early the potential of regional cooperation in the field of IP and patents in particular, Switzerland is a founding member of EPO, which, exactly 50 years ago – in 1973 - was funded. EPO acts as the patent examination and granting authority for the vast majority of patents that are valid in the territory of Switzerland. On the one hand, this discharges the Swiss IPO from a considerable workload, delegated to the EPO, allowing for economies in both financial and human resources. And on the other hand, this cooperation provides considerable added value from the right holders' perspective to apply for a patent with a single application not only for protection in the territory of Switzerland but at the same time for up to 40 more EPO member or extension countries. Clearly, this collaboration is the closest and strongest cross-border cooperation the Swiss IPO has with another IP office. Switzerland being a Member of EPO, is thus also closely involved in institutional and organizational EPO matters, next to the operational collaboration described. 313.   In the sphere of regional cooperation, we also mention the European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) as a valued cooperation partner of the Swiss IP office. Although an EU institution, the Swiss IPO is in a regular exchange with the EUIPO, be it on substantive or procedural aspects in the fields of shared IP responsibility, and thus predominantly in the field of trademarks and designs. Via the EUIPO, Swiss IP rights holders can directly file a design or register a trademark with effect in all 27 member States of the European Union. 314.   Moving to examples of cross-border cooperation with other IP offices at the bilateral level, let me briefly introduce the collaboration that the Swiss IPO has with the UK IP office. In annual meetings at top management level, but also in a continuing and implementing mode at expert level throughout the year, we work on topics of joint interest and priority. We examine together IP developments with a direct impact on the functioning and the services of our IP offices, such as the digitalization of processes and services offered to our customers, the IP right holders. On the policy level, we discuss issues such as IP and frontier technologies, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Intellectual Property, the Internet of Things or the metaverse and how our IP offices can prepare and respond appropriately to these technological developments. Exchange of examiners allow for the sharing of experience and learning from each other for the mutual benefit. 315.   A practical example of a technical assistance cross border cooperation is the Colombian–Swiss IP Project, phase II. The overall goal of this 4 year-project is to ensure that entrepreneurs, creators, researchers and producers in Colombia benefit from an improved IP system. With this goal in mind, the project provides advice and support in selected areas where the Swiss IPO is able to offer expertise and can help to achieve a tangible impact. Technical capacity building may happen in the form of trainings, workshops and experience sharing. One feature of the project was support for the establishment of Colombia's national IP policy 2022-2031. Moreover, the project promoted the national GI system in Colombia and conducted a legal gap analysis on the industrial design legislation in order to prepare Colombia's accession to the Hague Agreement of WIPO. 316.   In another example of a cross border cooperation and assistance among IP Offices, Switzerland and Ghana worked together on topics such as:  The commercialization of IP rights of research institutions and SMEs.  The pilot registration of selected Ghanaian geographical indications products, to promote better market access of high-quality agricultural products and handicraft products for the benefit of rural and artisanal communities. 317.   As a concluding remark: we note that while the COVID-19 pandemic has been a strain on cross-border cooperation of IP Offices, established partnerships have been able to continue their collaboration, helping the parties involved to better master the challenges they were confronted with in this extraordinary period.

63. The Council took note of the statements made.
61. The Chair said this item had been put on the agenda at the request of the delegations of Australia; Canada; the European Union; Hong Kong, China; Japan; Singapore; Switzerland; the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu; the United Kingdom and the United States of America. These delegations had also submitted a communication on this topic, circulated in document in order to allow Members to prepare for today's discussion.
62. The representatives of Japan; the United States of America; Singapore; Switzerland; Australia; Chinese Taipei; the United Kingdom; Canada; Hong Kong, China; the European Union; Korea, Republic of; Peru; India; Bangladesh; South Africa; Canada and the World Intellectual Property Organization took the floor.
63. The Council took note of the statements made.
IP/C/M/107, IP/C/M/107/Add.1