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Statement on the project on "IP and competition policy" at WIPO CDIP/6

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Committee on Development and Intellectual Property: Sixth Session, Geneva, November 22, 2010 to November 26, 2010.

Summary: Competition policy is crucial in maintaining open and competitive markets. Any project in this field should take into account the perspectives of users and consumers.

Intervention by Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE)

Thank you, Mr Chairman.

As this is the first time we take the floor, we would like to congratulate you on your able guidance of this very important meeting.

Free Software Foundation Europe would like to briefly remark on the project on "IP and competition policy". We appreciate the efforts that WIPO is making to explore this very important topic, and are glad to see the project progress. Competition policy is crucial in maintaining open and competitive markets, and provides an important element of balance to the exclusivity created by copyright and patents. We believe that this is a valuable project to investigate the complex relationship between copyright, patents, and competition policies.

As regards past work under this project, we have taken note in particular of the seminar organised by WIPO in the framework of this project on October 25 here in Geneva, with the title "Enforcing Antitrust Law with Reference to Intellectual Property Assets: New Developments and Perspectives".

The seminar's agenda comprised the session on institutional perspectives, and one on business perspectives. As we reviewed the agenda, we were surprised to see that the event did not include the perspectives of the third set of stakeholders in competition policy: users and consumers.

The industry perspective was provided by Microsoft, Boehringer Ingelheim, Philips and Qualcomm. Speaking as we do from the background of software, we would note that Microsoft in particular has been convicted of anticompetitive practices in high-profile cases in the United States and Europe. While this would certainly endow the company with some experience on the subject, it seems inappropriate to place them as the sole source of input on the intricacies of competition policy in the software market. This would clash directly with Recommendation 23 of the Development Agenda, which calls for the promotion of pro-competitive licensing policies. We would have wished that a broader set of perspectives had been taken into account in organising the seminar.

We would encourage member states to look to the Secretariat for assurances that the project as a whole is indeed taking into account the perspectives of users and consumers. We also hope that user and consumer stakeholders will be invited to provide their perspectives during the further course of the project. Free Software Foundation Europe will be very happy to support WIPO by providing expert input and assist WIPO and its member states in exploring this very important topic.

Thank you, Mr Chairman.