1. From March 2009 to November 2012, the Council had on its agenda a specific item on "Letter from the Chair of the General Council Concerning Ways to Improve the Timeliness and Completeness of Notifications and Other Information Flows". At the Council's request, the Secretariat prepared document IP/C/W/543, dated 22/10/2009, to guide us through this process. In particular, it provided a brief audit of state-of-play of notifications at that stage and provided suggestions on how to improve the timeliness and completeness of the notification system. At its meeting in November 2012, the Council requested the Secretariat to inform it at its future meetings on any further enhancements to its services improving the transparency, timeliness, completeness and user-friendliness of the notification system under the Council's regular item 1 relating to notifications under TRIPS in general.
2. The work addresses the three aspects of handling notifications, improving data capture, improving the management of the information provided, and improving its presentation and dissemination so that it is more user-friendly. The immediate focus had been to move towards full digitization of all notified material. Currently, roughly half of the 4,500 lengthy legal documents that have been notified are not directly accessible as full text searchable documents. The immediate focus of work remains to ensure that all notified materials would be readily available in text searchable form.
3. The launch in 2010 of the WIPO-WTO Common Portal for submission of notifications has improved the flow of notification materials. To supplement that portal, we are working on an online notification tool that would facilitate notifications by Members, including those that are unique to the TRIPS Agreement.
4. In addition, we can identify ideas for best practice that Members may wish to pursue. These include the simple step of notifying in a digital format a text document with minimal formatting, as well as an optional brief description of the content of the law which some Members have chosen to provide. This step is all the more important as we move towards a steady state notification stream, rather than a focus on an initial notification of the primary intellectual property laws of a Member, towards reviews and updates, and revisions of those laws where a brief description of the key elements of that law can be very helpful in navigating and making use of this material. However, that work is very much a prototype and as with other elements of this programme, we would be consulting closely with Members as the ideas are developed. The second step is more an internal consideration, improving data management and the flow of information so that we can process notifications more rapidly and smoothly while expending fewer resources. The final step is looking at ways of presenting notified materials in a more user-friendly way on the WTO website.
5. I would conclude with an outline of a current state-of-play with notifications. This supplements that baseline document from 2009 which reported on our review or audit of the current state of play of notifications. Since 2009, the number of notifications from Members updating their laws, moving beyond the initial round of notifications has noticeably picked up. In terms of overall numbers, we now have nearly 4,700 separate legal notifications of laws and regulations implemented by Members. This amounts to an average of 34 per Member, but the range is from one single notification to 221 notifications from the one Member. The number of Members updating their laws has picked up noticeably: there have been 81 updates from Members in the last 10 years, including 6 from least developed country Members, and since the last update in 2009, 37 Members have updated their laws in some way, so we can record a significant increase in the flow of material.
6. Turning to the other notification concerning laws and regulations under Article 63.2, delegates will recall that the Council established a Checklist on Enforcement to notify enforcement mechanisms under the Agreement. It is notable that 102 Members have provided responses to the checklist; however, 93 of these were filed over 10 years ago, and updates of those checklists are, by contrast with the laws and regulations, comparatively rare, occurring approximately once every three years.
7. Finally, the contact point lists concerning cooperation on enforcement under Article 69 and concerning technical cooperation have been updated more frequently, and have been presented on the website as a more useable format to facilitate contact between Members and we would encourage delegates to review those and of course update them as appropriate.