11. The Council has directed the Secretariat, under this item, to keep it up to date on the various practical steps that are underway to improve the service provided to Members by creating a more user-friendly, accessible and efficient system for capturing, handling and disseminating the information contained in the notifications made under the TRIPS Agreement. This statement supplements successive past reports, in anticipation of a full report and associated technical presentation at the time of the next meeting of the Council, scheduled for October. As ever, we stress that the steps being taken are practical and technical in character, so as to improve and facilitate the provision, handling and dissemination of this information; this work remains squarely within the requirements established by the Agreement itself and by the guidelines already agreed by the Council.
12. We have already briefed the Council on the work in progress to create an information management system that will enable streamlined and more efficient handling of the large volumes of data that have been collected and will continue to flow into this system in the context of notification and review. This information management system or 'IMS' will form the basis of a more workable and user friendly system for Members to submit notifications.
13. A specific feature of the recent pattern of notifications, and one that is increasingly coming into focus, is the tendency for notifications to comprise amendments, revisions or consolidated texts of intellectual property laws and regulations that have already been notified in previous versions. In other words, almost all Members have already notified their basic IP legislation – in some cases, principally developed country Members, almost 20 years ago. However, it is not uncommon in many jurisdictions for there to be a regular process of reviewing and updating IP legislation, and this explains the trend we see today of notifications largely consisting of amendments and updates to past notifications: indeed, that comprises the bulk of notifications that have just been announced in this meeting. This means that, in order to be workable and user-friendly, the notification system has to provide links and references referring back to the previous notifications. As these legacy data, comprising some 4500 document symbols, are in the process of digitisation and transformation into a more user-friendly format and structure, there is a significant challenge in ensuring that new notifications refer in a practically useful way to the previous notifications.
14. We are working to improve the clarity and utility of the Council documents that report on new notifications, and these cross-references to previous notifications concerning the same law or regulations are now systematically included in these documents. Another very useful feature is the brief description of the law or regulation that many Members are now making in the course of their notifications. As has been discussed before, such a brief description is actually even more useful when it concerns an amendment or revision of an existing law than for an original notification. In effect, the general contours and content of, for instance, a patent law when first notified would be well-known. However, it can be difficult for one not well versed in the jurisdiction in question to grasp the significance of a detailed amendment to that law when it is subsequently notified. We therefore thank the Members concerned for improving the quality and utility of the notification system by furnishing these brief descriptions – an option that has for a long time been part of the practice of this Council, but one that perhaps is more helpful than ever today. If I may add, this is exactly the kind of useful information that the delegations of Canada, the Russian Federation and Japan have shared with the Council today.
15. The pattern of notifications varies significantly between Members. At last count, 132 Members have notified laws, regulations or enforcement measures. The most recent notification filed by individual Members ranges in date from those filed in 1997 in some cases, to those filed earlier this month in other cases. Some Members have notified a series of amendments and revisions of their IP laws, and others have only notified the law once in an original notification. More details will be available during an informal briefing and demonstration that we propose to offer Delegations in an informal setting at 10am tomorrow. At that time, too, we will seek to illustrate the steps being taken to facilitate notification and use of these materials., and will be at the disposal of delegates, as ever, to respond to any more detailed questions as well as gaining the guidance of Members on how best to fine tune and adapt the system so as to make it more useful and efficient for your purposes. We look forward to reaching out to Members and consulting with delegates in the course of the next six months as we move towards implementation of the revised and updated system, with a view as ever to provide a better service for Members.