WIPO/UNITAR Briefing on Intellectual Property and Sustainable Development took place in New York City

Ms. Lucinda Longcroft, the Head of the WIPO Office opened the meeting together with Ms. Yvonne Lodico, Head of the UNITAR New York Office. Ms. Longcraft highlighted the longstanding cooperation between WIPO and the UNITAR New York Office, pointing out that this was the eighth workshop in a row on the topic of intellectual property. She also welcomed the large number of delegates who came together in the WIPO New York Office. During the first session of the workshop Ms. Longcraft introduced WIPO to delegates and illustrated the role of WIPO as an UN specialized organization, its mandate to promote the protection of IP rights worldwide and extend the benefits of the international IP system to all Member States, as well as its organizational structure and its development cooperation activities.

During the second panel, Professor Shuba Gosh from the University of Wisconsin Law School presented his presentation via skype. He provided participants with background information on the intellectual property system, illustrated national and international IP systems and offered an insight on copyright, patents and trademarks. Ms. Longcraft concluded the morning session of the first day with a presentation on the capacity of Intellectual Property as an enabler for sustainable development.

The afternoon session focused on the connection between Intellectual Property and topical issues at the United Nations. The first part of the session illustrated the link between Intellectual Property, Sustainable development and the UN post-2015 Development Agenda. The second part of the session, provided by Professor Shubha Gosh, focused on issues of intellectual property and climate change, and environmental sound technologies. During this session, Professor Shubha Gosh illustrated how the patent-system works, what qualifies for a patent and what does not. As part of the same session, Dr. Nikhil Chandavarkar, Chief of the Outreach and Communications Branch in the Division for Sustainable Development at the UN Department of Economics and Social Affairs (UN DESA) elaborated the importance of looking at the current intellectual property regime as a framework for environmental sustainability.

For the second session in the afternoon, Professor Rochelle Dreyfuss, Pauline Newman Professor of Law from the New York University School of Law covered the topic of intellectual property and public health. On the same panel, Dr. John Kilama, the director and founder of the Kilama International Consulting group pointed out the challenges of intellectual property when it comes to the pharmaceutical sector.

The second day of the workshop covered the topics of copyright and access to creativity and culture as intellectual property and the protection of Indigenous People’s culture and heritage. Professor Barton Beebe, John M. Desmarais Professor of Intellectual Property Law from the New York University School of Law together with Ms. Maria Strong, Senior Counsel for Policy and International Affairs from the U.S. Copyright Office in Washington covered the topic of Copyright and access to creativity and culture. Professor Barton Beebe offered participants a survey of copyright protection and its flexibilities and inflexibilities. His presentation covered an introduction on basic aspects of copyrights and copyright policy and how those may interact with sustainable development. Ms. Maria Strong shed light on the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who are Blind, Visually impaired, or otherwise print disabled.

The last panel on the workshop focused on intellectual property and the protection of Indigenous People’s culture and heritage. Professor Jane Anderson, Assistant Professor in the Centre for Heritage and Society in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Massachusetts and Adjunct Professor of Law at New York University School of Law and Professor Charles McManis, Thomas&Karole Green Professor of Law, Washington University, St. Louis illustrated the importance of intellectual property for the protection of Indigenous People’s culture and heritage.