WIPO PCDA2: Silence in the plenary

It is a very unusual occurence if the chair opens the floor for comments, and there is no reaction for several minutes. A room full of more than 150 delegations in silence is a very strange experience, especially since they are usually not shy to take the floor, and always have something more to say. Yet, this is exactly what happened when the plenary was reopened after 16:00 today, although with some delay due to continued informal discussions.

So how did this silence come about? The chair opened the session, described his perception of the situation, and told the plenary that he did not know how to proceed from here on — and thus invited proposals how to move forward.

Only after the chair explicitly said that he was asking people to restate their positions, if that is still where they stood, and more or less invited Chile to make a start, did the flags go up. No surprises here: All delegations were more or less reaffirming their statements during the explosion in the morning.

After a good lot of discussion, Nigeria tried to bring in a new proposal along the lines of working on all items, but determining a set of criteria by which to sort them into things that can be done immediately, and others that might need more time or resources than those available at the moment. This immediately triggered a response by the US delegation to say that they would only accept the paper of the chair. Not surprisingly, since that is largely identical with their preferred selection, as the table in my earlier blog entry has shown.

Mexico then suggested to move things into informal mode again, and that is what happened. The observers and several governmental delegates waited for a reopening of the plenary. But after the clock hit 18:00, the secretariat came back to announce that there would be no more plenary today.

Indeed, they did not even seem to know whether there would be plenary tomorrow, or when it would start. So the delegations may simply spend all day talking in informals, trying to come to some sort of conclusion to bring to the general assemblies.

Only time will show whether this deadlock can be resolved, but right now some scepticism does seem warranted.

More Information

The work we do at WIPO is a team effort, and we often help each other out with information, and in spreading information effectively, when necessary. The quoted comparison table for instance was based on information Jamie Love got from the US delegation, and a compilation of EU statements by Gwen Hinze, which I put into a visibly accessible form.

So as I am currently in the train back to Zürich, I won’t be able to give a first-hand account of the meeting and its results, also you might be interested in some more perspectives. So here are my further reading recommendations:

  • Gwen Hinze of EFF is blogging and will be putting her extremely helpful transcripts online, as usual:
  • Pedro de Paranagua Moniz is blogging at:
  • And finally: William New’s IP-Watch has apparently angered somebody at WIPO, even though he tries to maintain a carefully neutral, balanced journalistic approach. He has however found himself confronted with much less helpful policies this time. This should not silence him, however, so here is the link:

About Georg Greve

Georg Greve is a technologist and entrepreneur. Background as a software developer and physicist. Head of product development and Chairman at Vereign AG. Founding president of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE). Previously president and CEO at Kolab Systems AG, a Swiss Open Source ISV. In 2009 Georg was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit on Ribbon by the Federal Republic of Germany for his contributions to Open Source and Open Standards.
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