USPTO, others, seek to kill WIPO meeting on open collaborative models to develop public goods

From: Dennis Paull <dpaull_at_svpal_dot_org>
Date: Wed Aug 20 2003 - 18:04:10 CDT

Hi all,

Kind of an aside, but thought you might be interested. Despite
the Subject, what I have doesn't mention MS. Maybe someone cut
that part out... :-)

Dennis Paull

>Date: Wed, 20 Aug 2003 17:55:08 -0400
>From: Dave Farber <>
>Subject: [IP] USPTO, Microsoft seek to kill WIPO meeting
> on open collaborative models to develop public goods
>>Date: Wed, 20 Aug 2003 17:33:29 -0400
>>From: James Love <>
>>Subject: USPTO, Microsoft seek to kill WIPO meeting on open collaborative
>> models to develop public goods
>>To: Dave Farber <>
>>August 19, 2003. Technology Daily PM Edition
>>Intellectual Property
>>Global Group's Shift On 'Open Source' Meeting Spurs Stir
>>by William New
>>A request for a meeting on open development issues has plunged the
>>Geneva-based World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) into a
>>Washington political battle, causing it to shift its position on the issue.
>>At issue is whether WIPO should hold a meeting next year on "open and
>>collaborative projects" such as "open source" software, which allows users
>>to view and modify underlying code.
>>The meeting was proposed in a July 7 letter sent to WIPO Director General
>>Kamil Idris by 68 distinguished scientists, academics, technologists,
>>open-source advocates, consumer advocates, librarians, industry
>>representatives and economists worldwide.
>>Although the letter cited a broad range of open collaborative projects
>>such as the World Wide Web and the Human Genome Project, the fight has
>>focused on open-source software and on one signer of the letter -- James
>>Love, director of the Consumer Project on Technology, who has actively
>>pushed for the meeting.
>>WIPO's initial response to the idea was so favorable that proponents began
>>planning for a meeting. After receiving the letter, Francis Gurry, WIPO's
>>assistant director and legal counsel, e-mailed a statement to a Nature
>>magazine reporter calling such open development models "a very important
>>and interesting development."
>>"The director general of WIPO looks forward with enthusiasm to taking up
>>the invitation to organize a conference to explore the scope and
>>application of these models as vehicles for encouraging innovation," he wrote.
>>But a few weeks later, WIPO backed off the idea. Gurry said he and other
>>WIPO officials received "many calls" from consumer groups, trade
>>associations, professional associations and representatives from governments.
>>"What happened in the intervening weeks is that a request for an open
>>discussion on a range of 'projects' became transformed into an
>>increasingly domestically, as opposed to internationally, oriented,
>>polarized political and trade debate about one only of those 'projects',
>>namely open-source software," Gurry told National Journal's Technology
>>Daily on Tuesday. "In those circumstances, the possibility of conducting a
>>policy discussion on intellectual property of the sort that might be
>>appropriate for an international organization devoted to intellectual
>>property became increasingly remote."
>>U.S. government officials have argued that WIPO is an inappropriate place
>>for such a meeting.
>>One developing country representative to WIPO on Monday expressed
>>disappointment at hearing that the meeting is in doubt, and Love and
>>representatives from the Computer and Communications Industry Association
>>(CCIA) were furious to learn of the shift. Love last week called the
>>decision a "temporary setback," and vowed, "We're going to make this
>>happen." But for meeting opponents, he said, it would be "as if you made
>>an atheist pope for the day."
>>CCIA President Ed Black said on Tuesday: "Does this indicate that WIPO is
>>abdicating authority and responsibility for these issues, including open
>>source for the future? If so, we will all live by that, but then so must
>>they. They should step up the plate or step aside. ... It is inexplicable
>>that they would shut the door on what are clearly important issues."
>>Intellectual Property
>>U.S. Official Opposes 'Open Source' Talks At WIPO
>>by William New
>>An international intellectual property body is not the place for
>>discussions about "open source" software, which allows users to view and
>>modify the underlying code, because it falls outside of the organization's
>>mission, a senior U.S. official argued on Monday.
>>Reviewing the original mission of the World Intellectual Property
>>Organization (WIPO), said Lois Boland, the U.S. Patent and Trademark
>>Office (PTO) acting director of international relations, it is "clearly
>>limited to the protection of intellectual property. To have a meeting
>>whose primary objective is to waive or remove those protections seems to
>>go against the mission."
>>Boland was referring to a July request by a group of scientists,
>>academics, open-source advocates and others for a meeting at WIPO on "open
>>and collaborative projects," including open-source software. The WIPO
>>secretariat initially replied favorably to the idea.
>>In a telephone interview, Boland gave several reasons why the Geneva-based
>>WIPO should not hold the meeting, including a tight budget and late
>>scheduling. She also said WIPO's agenda should be driven by member
>>nations, and the idea came from outside the organization.
>>Officials from the 179 WIPO nations will convene in late September to
>>decide their agenda for the next two years; the agenda has been in the
>>works for months and does not include open-development issues. "It would
>>have been somewhat unusual for such a meeting to materialize out of
>>nothing," Boland said.
>>In the past six months, WIPO has had to cancel several meetings on topics
>>directly relevant to the organization due to budgetary issues, she said,
>>adding that with those problems, the organization should not "go out on a
>>limb and express receptivity" to an open-development meeting.
>>U.S. government officials have had "informal" communications with WIPO,
>>Boland said. A WIPO official said that since receiving a wide range of
>>communications, WIPO has stepped back from the idea of a meeting but has
>>not fully rejected the possibility of addressing the topic.
>>The U.S. government has an interagency process for developing formal
>>positions at WIPO. A meeting that included officials from PTO and the
>>Copyright Office was held last Thursday at the State Department. The
>>Commerce Department and Office of the U.S. Trade Representative are part
>>of the interagency process, too.
>>Boland said the United States "would certainly have some rather
>>bureaucratic objections" to WIPO considering a policy on open-source
>>software. "There are technical and legalistic arguments to that."
>>Open-source software is not protected under copyright law but only
>>contract law, which is not the domain of WIPO, she said. That point has
>>been heavily disputed by copyright experts.
>>Boland suggested that the U.S. government supports open-source growth as a
>>development tool and she proposed it for consideration by a U.N. body
>>focused on development.
>>She also reprimanded WIPO officials for publicly giving the impression
>>that the body might consider open-source issues. "We think people working
>>within the organization need to be better stewards of interactions" with
>>nonprofit groups and other non-member organizations, she said.
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Received on Sun Aug 31 23:17:13 2003

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