400. Traditionally this item has been used to update Members factually on developments elsewhere in the WTO that may be of interest to TRIPS Council delegates.
401. During discussions on how to make the work of the Council ever more useful and informative for Members, it has become clear that there is another area of WTO work that gathers together significant amounts of information on developments that are of current topical interest from a wider policy point of view. Also, in the context of our technical overhaul of the information services provided to Members, as we look to make existing information more readily available and useful for Members, we are looking at how cross cutting information from other processes in the WTO can be made available in a manner more suited to more contemporary ways of working with this kind of information.
402. We therefore provide a brief update on material concerning developments elsewhere strictly for background information. There is no suggestion that this has any procedural or substantive significance for this Council. It is simply that this information is presented throughout many documents elsewhere and it can be difficult to obtain an overview of recent developments, despite the objective of greater transparency.
403. Delegates to the Council will be aware that the parallel work of the WTO Trade Policy Review process addresses the full range of trade policy measures, including measures in the area of trade related aspects of intellectual property rights. However, it is not as well known that the TPR process publishes in very extensive, very detailed documents, a great deal of information on current policy issues and that this includes an active dialogue between Members on current issues of IP law and policy. Accordingly, we provide an update on this material.
404. Nonetheless, this brief update does not seek to cover the numerous trade related IP measures and experiences that have been reported in recent Trade Policy Reviews: there is frankly too great a wealth of information, far too rich to be covered in a small compass. Rather, just to give a general impression of areas that are of particular interest, this update covers a small number of areas where Members have shown express interest in the policy measures of other Members. For us objectively in the Secretariat these expressions of interest do suggest that there is some active interest among Members in the flow of this information. Some of the areas that have been taken up in this dialogue include:
• the relationship between IP, trade and development;
• the relationship between the IP system and various aspects of economic performance, domestic innovation, the international and national diffusion of technologies;
• national IP strategies and IP related development policies, such as measures to use the IP system to promote foreign direct investment, the linkages between innovation, IP and development planning, and specific initiatives to enable domestic firms (including SMEs) to make better use of the IP system for economic development;
• linkages between IP and tax and regulatory issues, price mechanisms, and competition policy;
• implementation of the TRIPS amendment to promote access to medicines;
• current and planned adherence to multilateral IP conventions beyond the scope of the WTO, such as a wide range of WIPO treaties, including the recently concluded Marrakesh Treaty for facilitating access to published work for people who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise disabled, as well as regional coordination and harmonization of IP standards and administration;
• approaches to exhaustion of IP rights, including in some specific industry sectors;
• enforcement measures for IP rights, including border control measures, treatment of goods in transit, statistics on enforcement, the role of different domestic enforcement authorities and how they coordinate their work, measures to improve the handling of civil and criminal IP matters, and civil and criminal actions to protect trade secrets. Members have also discussed the role of alternative dispute resolution, and the interaction between competition policy and enforcement have also been covered;
• online enforcement measures, technological protection measures and authentication measures for copyright works, as well as consumer awareness to reduce demand for pirated and counterfeit products;
• the administration of IP rights, particularly examination and registration of industrial property rights, looking at such matters as examination backlogs and delays, patent quality opposition procedures, measures to improve the clarity of decisions taken, arrangements for work-sharing and similar coordination between industrial property offices, as well as initiatives such as priority systems for patents on green technology and the promotion of humanitarian licensing;
• on the substance of IP law and policy, discussions covering a wide range of IP areas including patents, undisclosed information, trademarks, geographical indications, and copyright;
• discussions covering patent exceptions in the pharmaceutical area, protection of clinical trial data, protection of traditional knowledge and genetic resources in domestic law, the use of related patent disclosure mechanisms, protection of clinical trial data, and protecting trade secrets within the context of suppressing unfair competition;
• in the trademark area, discussions covering the scope of protectable trademarks, approaches to enforcing trademark rights online, and the link with geographical indications, as well as different approaches to the protection of geographical indications, including in the context of bilateral agreements and looking at specific forms such as appellations of origin;
• on copyright, discussions covering such matters as the online and digital environment, the role of copyright management organizations and related issues, levies on recording media, the use of optional registration systems and compulsory licensing arrangements for translations of copyright works as well as looking at copyright administration within the context of regional integration agreements.
405. I stress that this summary is only an incomplete sample of those areas where Members themselves have shown specific interest in other Members' policy experiences to the point of posing particular follow up questions in the process. This brief account is very far from providing a full account of the areas of IP law and policy that are covered in this process and indeed it is only intended to give a very brief initial glimpse into the wealth of policy information available from this source. This is not intended to have any implications for the work of this body itself. Far from it. It is simply to draw attention of Members of the Council to the fact that this information does exist and suggest that it may be of wider policy interest. We would be very happy in more informal mode to guide any interested delegation to the detailed materials that we have covered in this update if they do have an interest in any particular area.