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February 23, 2006

Diplomatic sparks fly on Thursday morning at WIPO

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Had I done the sensible thing this morning and spent a recreational day in the Swiss Alps at Chamonix, I would have missed the biggest spat of the event (so far, at least).

Brazil spent considerable time late Wednesday and first thing Thursday morning ridiculing the proposal from the United States in a very petty way. He was going through the proposal almost phrase-by-phrase, and being really offensive. He would say things like "piracy is not a problem to Brazil or in developing countries." He said "I don't know what is meant by the phrase 'innovative patent industries.' It's not a precise phrase, and I need someone to explain to me what that means."

He asserted that IP enforcement was outside of WIPO's mandate, which was absurdly false on its face.

These are not exact quotes, as a written copy of his intervention is not available. But they are accurate reflections of his sentiments.

I can't imagine that his tactics are impressing anyone other than the "stick it to the U.S." crowd. But, on the other hand, there's a significant representation of that sentiment here.

Anyway, this time the Brazilian delegate was so over-the-top that he managed to get under the skin of not only the U.S., but also Romania and Azerbaijan.

Backstory: It was Brazil that blocked the delegate from Romania from being the chairman of the PCDA meeting.

The Romanian delegate had the transcript of a conference last year on piracy that was held in Brazil and sponsored by Brazil, and he quoted from it where Brazil had said that piracy was indeed a serious problem. This obviously contradicted the intervention by the Brazilian delegate to WIPO.

Brazil then intervened, essentially telling the Romanian that his country should mind its own business on piracy, and implying that Brazil was doing more about piracy than Romania was.

While the Brazilian was still speaking, the Romanian held up his placque and would not put it down, indicating that he wanted to make a point of order. So the chair interrupted the Brazilian, and the Romanian pointed out that the topic at hand was not a discussion of what each individual country is doing on the topic of piracy, and that essentially the Brazilian had left the topic of responding to the U.S. proposal and had moved on to picking on Romania for daring to point out contradictions in the Brazil intervention.

Then the Brazilian resumed, and ended up suggesting that if the Romanian cared so much about piracy, perhaps he should submit his name as chairman of the committee at WIPO that concerns itself with piracy. When the Brazilian had finished, the Romanian delegate left the room.

Of course, I should point out that the very point that WIPO has an office that deals with policy suggests that piracy IS within the mandate of WIPO, contrary to the assertions of the Brazilian delegate.

Fun stuff. At least within the context of boring international diplomacy.

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