MEETING OF HIGH LEVEL OFFICIALS OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

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PACIFIC ISLANDS FORUM SECRETARIAT Suva, Fiji Islands

PRESS STATEMENT November 30, 2001

OFFICERS OF THE FICS AND REGIONAL WORKSHOP ON INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LEGISLATION

The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat announces the Meeting of High Level Officials of Intellectual Property Offices of the Forum Island Countries (F1Cs) on December 3, 2001.

This will be followed immediately by the Regional Workshop on Intellectual Property Legislation.

Both the High Level Meeting and the Workshop are held under are auspices of the WIPO-Australia-Forum Secretariat cooperation, endorsed by the Forum Trade Ministers in June this year.

These events mark the implementation of the Regionally Focused Action Plan (RFAP), a 3-year regional collaborative project between the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the Australian government (specifically TP Australia) and the Forum Secretariat. The REAP is a positive step towards strengthening intra-regional cooperation among the Pacific Island Forum members, including the Australian government, as well as the region’s cooperation with the WIP0, and represents recognition of the growing importance of intellectual property rights (IPR) issues in the region’s development and trading relations with the outside world.

Many Forum Island Countries (FICs) still lag behind in the important area of intellectual property laws and administration.

The Acting Secretary General, Mr. Iosefa Maiava, said, "An effective and efficient IPR system creates a confident and secure business environment, stimulating innovative activities while deterring unfair trade practices, both of which are processes conducive to increase investment."

He also noted that, "Good efficient IPR systems complement indigenous or traditional knowledge protection and help stop increasing exploitation of traditional knowledge as a source of new products or processes by companies, usually multinationals, with no compensation to the Pacific communities who own this knowledge."

The Cotonou Agreement, to which all 14 Forum Island countries are parties, contains provisions relating to IPRs that must be considered during future negotiations for any new Pacific-EU trading relationship. The negotiation between the FICs and the European Union is expected to start in September 2002.

There is also a crucial need to assist the FIC-WTO members on compliance with the TRIPS Agreement, especially given the new agenda of WTO negotiations launched in Doha last Month. "The FICs according to Maiava, must ensure that multilateral intellectual property arid international trade rules support their development efforts, and as such they will need to participate actively in international fora such as the WIPO and WTO processes. All these factors point to the increasing importance for building domestic, capacity to deal with intellectual property rights."

The specific objectives of the Meeting and Workshop are to consider the effective and timely implementation of the RFAP and to consider legislative reforms required by the FICs for further technical assistance. To facilitate these outcomes the meeting and workshop will consider the following IPR related issues: legislative reform, modernization of IP administration, public awareness, cooperation on IP examination, regional collaboration on industrial property management and exploring the feasibility of regional or sub regional IP management and examination, as cost-effective measures.

The meeting will be officially opened by Mr. Alipate Qetaki, Permanent Secretary for Justice for the Fiji Government.

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