by IP Justice Executive Director Robin D. Gross
at the 1st Session of the Provisional Committee on Proposals Related to a WIPO Development Agenda
21 February 2006 – Geneva, Switzerland

Thank you, Mr. Chairman and congratulations on your re-election.  I represent IP Justice, an international civil liberties organization that promotes balanced intellectual property law.

IP Justice welcomes the thoughtful and constructive proposal put forth by Chile.  Chile’s proposal contains three specific and concrete measures that would greatly aid in bringing knowledge and innovation to the developing world.

Chile’s first proposal recognizes the significant social value of the public domain, which supports the public policy objectives behind intellectual property laws.

As noted by the US delegation in its intervention this morning, copyrights and patents are intended to create a rich public domain that all may access — by providing a temporary economic incentive to encourage creativity.

In addition to ordinary consumers, creators themselves are particularly dependent on access to a robust public domain for education and inspiration.  The works of Mozart and Shakespeare are prime examples of public domain works that have enriched humanity for generations, something only possible if a work in the public domain.

Chile’s second proposal to examine complementary incentives for creativity, recognizes that exclusive monopoly rights are only one tool among many available to reward creativity.  Indeed in many cases, exclusive monopoly rights are not the best mode of incentivizing creativity.  As a result, WIPO should not insist on forcing Member Countries to rely upon only proprietary rights to achieve economic development.  Particularly when there are many alternative systems that have created enormous value, such as Free and Open Source Software and the Creative Commons licensing schemes.  WIPO has an obligation to remain neutral among the various tools for incentivizing creativity and human development.

Chile’s third proposal is also imperative to economic growth and development in the South.  Often over-looked, is the historical fact that the US only recently began a maximal approach to IPR.   And it is because the US took the position in the past of permitting the open exchange of information, that creativity and innovation were able to flourish — and the US able to become strong.   Today’s developing countries should be permitted the same path to economic growth that the US benefited from.  A one-size-fits-all approach (XL) to IPR does more harm than good in IP-importing countries that need flexibility to protect their own national interests.

In conclusion, Chile’s very helpful proposal is complementary to the Friends of Development proposal and should be incorporated into a Development Agenda at WIPO.  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.