PACIFIC INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY REFORM URGED

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PACIFIC ISLANDS FORUM SECRETARIAT Suva, Fiji Islands

 

PRESS STATEMENT December 31, 2001

Forum Island Countries have been urged to modernize their laws dealing with intellectual property rights, so as to have more control over their intellectual property.

"Intellectual property rights are increasingly important, because of growing demand for the potential trade and investment opportunities in this sector," said the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Mr. Noel Levi, CBE.

"Pacific Islanders should take a greater leadership role in the development of their intellectual property systems. By doing so, Pacific Islanders will enjoy more of the benefits, rather than leaving it for others to decide how these valuable resources are used."

In December, representatives from Forum Island Countries met in Fiji to share their experiences in the reform of IP laws, many of which were outdated or non-existent. The FICs will intensify their efforts to modernize their IP legislation. This is aimed at encouraging a more confident and secure business environment for investors, as well as offer better protection for products resulting from indigenous IPR or traditional knowledge.

The FICs have developed a Regionally Focused Action Plan (RFAP), to improve their respective intellectual property systems over a three-year period. The RFAP is a collaborative project between the World Intellectual Property Organization, the Australian government and the Forum Secretariat. The implementation of the RFAP will be overseen by the High Level Officials of Intellectual Property Offices of the FICs and their next meeting will be held in 2004.

The Australian government will provide technical assistance to the FICs in the implementation of their IP systems. The Forum Secretariat will assist in coordinating the progress of legislative reform through quarterly surveys.

Intellectual property rights (IPR) issues first surfaced at the Forum Trade Ministers Agenda in 1999 during discussions dealing with the region's need to respond to globalization and World Trade Organization rules. The Ministers also decided to develop regional mechanisms to protect indigenous IPR, as the current multilateral rules did not provide sufficient protection.

The 14 FICs are Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

For additional information, contact: Ulafala Aiavao at UlafalaA@forumsec.org.fj 

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