Thursday, February 10, 2005

DEVELOPING COUNTRIES SQUAWK AS U.S. "QUIETLY" PROMOTES PATENT HARMONIZATION : Trade analysts are concerned that a number of industrialized countries, led by the US, are trying to move negotiations on patent harmonization outside the ambit of the World Intellectual Property organization (WIPO), according to Intellectual Property (IP) Watch, a Geneva-based reporting service on IP issues. They believe that this would risk undermining the multilateral process for harmonizing patent law and procedures. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) invited representatives from certain developed countries to a meeting in Alexandria, Virginia on 3-4 February 2005, to discuss patent law harmonization and other IP related issues.

A number of developed countries have been highly critical of the WIPO secretariat for being slow to move the patent harmonization process forward. IP Watch quotes developing country sources as being concerned that the US and other developed countries are "trying to show they can take the negotiations outside of WIPO if that organization cannot keep the talks on track by keeping developing countries in check." The 'exclusive' nature of the recent meeting has raised concerns about the forum in which patent harmonization might be determined. Another trade source suggested that the USPTO is trying to take negotiations on patent harmonization outside the multilateral track in order to achieve standards for patent harmonization that are closer to US objectives than any likely result of the WIPO process. These allegations were rejected, however, by a patent official from a participating country, who asserted that meeting was simply a dialogue and there were no specific ideas about its potential outcome prior to the event.

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