GENEVA (Reuters) - Eighteen developing countries have grouped together to ensure that their interests are properly reflected at the United Nations intellectual property body, their coordinator Egypt said on Monday.
The new group aims to transform the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) from a body servicing mainly holders of intellectual property rights to a U.N. agency helping members achieve development goals through “a balanced and calibrated use of intellectual property”, a statement said.
The creation of the new group marks another step in the confrontation between rich and developing countries over intellectual property rights.
Rich countries like the United States believe strong intellectual property rights are needed to encourage inventions, new technology and improvements in quality, and that piracy and counterfeits destroy jobs and economies.
But many developing countries say such rights are abused to deprive poor people of access to essential medicines or to steal developing countries’ traditional knowledge.
Egyptian ambassador Hisham Badr said WIPO’s adoption of a Development Agenda in 2007 was a milestone in efforts to change the view of intellectual property from an end in itself to one serving broader social, economic and cultural goals.
But implementing the agenda was proving a considerable challenge, he told WIPO’s Committee on Development and Intellectual Property.
“The Development Agenda Group commits itself to actively contributing to mainstreaming the development dimension in all areas of WIPO’s work,” he said.
The creation of the group at WIPO follows a strategy of combining for greater effect used by developing countries in other bodies, from the United Nations to the World Trade Organization.
Badr said the new group, comprising member states at various levels of development, was open to all countries and aimed to build coalitions among pro-development groups in the agency.
Besides Egypt, the group comprises Algeria, Brazil, Cuba, Djibouti, Ecuador, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Uruguay and Yemen.
Reporting by Jonathan Lynn, editing by Mark Trevelyan