PPI blocked from becoming observer members of WIPO

PPI blocked from becoming observer members of WIPO

In its General Assembly meeting of October, 3, 2012, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has chosen to wait until 2013 to take a decision on the observer membership application of the PPI. Torn between the recent evidences of the Pirate Parties influence in several national elections and the objections of several of its member states, the UN agency chose to take no side and wait for a future ruling about political parties applications.

The application made by PPI meet all the requirements by WIPO for observer membership and the Secretary General of WIPO supported the application and proposed that “the Assemblies include the said NGOs in the category of international NGOs”. Despite this, the General Assembly of WIPO decided to wait with taking a vote on accepting PPI as observer members until next meeting in 2013. Denis Simonet, who sent the application on behalf of the board of PPI, just found out about the result through the same source we did and has nothing to add about the decision until he gets more formal replies from WIPO.

When an international NGO becomes an observer they are allowed to attend committee and working group meetings if “their subject matter seems to be of direct interest to that NGO”. Concerning their observers WIPO “seeks to involve NGOs, IGOs, industry groups and all other stakeholders as widely as possible in consultation processes and debates  about current issues”. Though WIPO itself doesn’t follow a dogma of enforcing restrictive intellectual property, and is actually quite open to alternatives, the main part of its observers consists of association related to the music and film industry. The majority of them being supporters of strengthening the intellectual property protection, this being contrary to what PPI stands for, might have been part of the reasons for not accepting PPI as an observer member at this General Assembly.  Within the current observers there are only a few exceptions, like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and IP Justice, who might have a different view on intellectual property than the majority.

The pirate movement was considered important enough for some countries to go against WIPO’s recommendation of accepting PPI as observer members.

“the US, Switzerland [and] France raised objections in the informal consultations, and […]  some other European countries wanted to raise objections, but found it awkward given the recent success of domestic Pirate Parties in national elections. The USA said it asked for a hold on the decision until WIPO could decide if it wanted to accept political parties as WIPO observers. One delegate said European countries were concerned that the Pirate Parties would take “political action” back home when they disagreed with positions taken by the official delegates at the WIPO meetings” (source)

An opposing view on intellectual property from PPI would probably make WIPO debates more deep and useful. From the application to WIPO we can see some of the main discussions that PPI wants to take part of inside WIPO meetings: “Intellectual property issues of particular interest to PPI include copying monopoly and related issues, users’ freedoms on the internet, developing laws and standards, economics of copying and new business methods, and enforcement of copying monopoly.”  (source)
WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) is the agency of the United Nations dedicated to the protection of intellectual property on a global scale. It administers most of the international intellectual property regulation services, examples include the Patent Cooperation Treaty, the Madrid system for Trademark Registration and the Hague system  for Design Registration. It counts 184 member states and about 350 observers.


 Feautured image: CC-BY-NC-ND, United Nations – Geneva