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September 26, 2006

IPI's intervention at the 2006 WIPO General Assembly

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This is the intervention delivered by IPI at the World Intellectual Property Organization's (WIPO) 2006 General Assembly:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The Institute for Policy Innovation is a 19 year old economic research institute, and a civil society NGO at WIPO. We focus our research and advocacy on issues related to economic growth. We believe that economic growth is the solution to many of our public policy problems. Economic growth facilitates better education, better health care, and protection of human rights. Conversely, it is almost impossible to advance in education, health care and human rights without economic growth.

In general, economic growth comes through participation in markets, and markets do not function without property rights. Property rights are thus essential to the economic growth equation.

Because property rights create markets, property rights facilitate rational methods for distributing goods. Today, we are even dealing with problems of pollution by creating property rights for pollution and carbon emissions. More often than not, property rights are the solution, rather than the cause, of problems and inequalities.

Our interest in intellectual property is driven by the well-known relationship between intellectual property and economic growth. This relationship is recognized by the vast majority of economists and academics, despite the fact that it has recently become popular among some groups to question the significance of intellectual property as a driver of economic growth.

We also believe that the right to own and benefit from one's own creations and inventions is a basic human right, as specifically stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Since intellectual property is so important, a functioning WIPO is also important. We thus view new proposals at WIPO through the lens of whether or not they will enhance intellectual property protection (and thus economic growth), and whether they will result in a more or less functional WIPO.

Development Agenda

On the proposed development agenda, IPI participated in all meetings related to the proposed Development Agenda during 2005 and 2006. We heard all of the interventions, read all the documents, and observed the effort made by the Chairman to put together a document that reflected the proposals that had gained sufficient support to move forward. For some reason, the Chairman's approach did not gain consensus among some who seemed to believe that the only acceptable consensus was consensus on their own proposals.

We believe that, if the proposed development agenda is to proceed at all, its best chance of success is to proceed from the Chairman's excellent document, which was introduced on the last day of the PCDA process, and is included in the report that was submitted to the General Assembly.

In order to get anything useful done, we must not let the "perfect become the enemy of the good." The PCDA Chairman's draft may not please everyone, but it certainly represents a step in the desired direction.

Broadcast Treaty

It is widely recognized that broadcast signal piracy is a problem, and will become a larger problem in the future. IPI believes that a treaty dealing with signal piracy would be an important step for WIPO, and would have a beneficial economic impact.

We therefore urge the member states to find a way to move forward with a treaty to protect the rights of broadcasters.

We appreciate the opportunity to participate in WIPO deliberations, and we appreciate the opportunity to present this intervention.

We also would like to offer our thanks to Mr. Geoffrey Yu, and also to my fellow native of the state of South Carolina, Ms. Rita Hayes for their years of service to WIPO.

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