1. What is WIPO?
  2. What is this agreement?
  3. Difference: Patents vs. Copyrights?
  4. Marrakesh Treaty for Visually Challenged
  5. Educating visually challenged

What is WIPO?

WIPO been in news in context of (1) US Special 301 –intellectual property rights (2) Marrakesh treaty.
Since UPSC is not going to change syllabus for 2014, WIPO becomes important for General Studies Mains paper II last topic “Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.”

Mock Q. What is WIPO? How does it help in protection of intellectual property rights? (200 words)

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is a specialized agency of United Nations, setup in 1970.

  • Has 180+ member nations and 250+ non-governmental organizations.
  • Has its own General assembly to discuss the policy issues and IPR treaties.
  • Day to day functioning carried out by the Secretariat at Geneva, under the Director General.
  • Self-funding organization, doesn’t depend on UN budget.

How does it help?

  1. promotes the protection of intellectual property rights in
    1. Industrial domain: patents, invention, trademark etc.
    2. Artistic domain: book, music, photographs etc.
  2. Enforcement of IPR related treaties, the most important one being “Patent Cooperation Treaty” (PCT). A patent registered under PCT, has legal validity in all the countries that have signed PCT treaty.
  3. Coordinates with WTO for enforcement of TRIPS- Trade related intellectual property rights & GI (Geographical indicator) tags.
  4. Coordinates with national agencies to combat piracy- in medicine, music, movies, software and other copyrighted products.
  5. Provides arbitration /mediator service to private parties for IPR infringement.
  6. Resolves disputes over internet domain names. Particularly “Cybersquatting” i.e. buying a domain name in bad faith, to sell it to the rightful owner at high price.
Difference: Patents vs Copyrights?
Patent Copyrights
Patent gives the designer complete rights over the idea in whichever form it is used. Copyrights on the other hand given for a work in particular form like a book, an audio and only that exact reproduction, example cut and paste of text falls under its ambit.
It requires compulsory registration. Does not require a registration, once the work is created it is a property of the author.
Patent rights are thus usually given for a brief period say 20 years. The rights are given for the entire lifetime of the author and extend for 50 years even after the death of the producer.

Marrakesh Treaty for Visually Challenged

List the salient features of Marrakesh treaty for visually challenged. What India’s stand on this treaty? (200 words)

World Intellectual Property rights Organization (WIPO)’s Marrakesh Treaty aims to help visually challenged people to access copyrighted books.

Salient features:

  • Copyright doesn’t apply IF book is reproduced for visually challenged (VC) people i.e. in Braille language, audiobooks etc.
  • Even permits cross-border exchange and translation of such books for the benefit of VC.

BUT with conditions:

  1. Only IF the given organization / person is doing it for non-profit purpose. They can only charge the cost of production.
  2. They’ll have to get license from respective national Copyright Boards.
  3. Will come into force when 20 WIPO Member nations ratify this treaty.

India’s stand

  • 2012: We already amended Copyright act to give exceptions to visually challenged people.
  • 2014: We signed Marrakesh Treaty
  • We’ve promised WIPO to ratify this treaty in our parliament soon.
  • Will permit translation of copyrighted books in all 22 official Indian languages – for the benefit of VC. They’ll be distributed to educational institutions & libraries
  • Even private sector has come forward. TATA Consultancy Services (TCS) developed online platform to aid in online distribution of such books.

More than 250 million people around the world are visually challenged. 25% of them live in our country. Therefore, India’s readiness to sign and ratify this treaty is a commendable step.
~210 words

Positive Implications:

  1. Rather than giving freebies like free bus pass which no one helps them redeem, this way of empowerment helps them develop self-confidence.
  2. Leak proof= no diversion of money, beneficiaries directly benefited.
  3. Helps achieve the so called Millennium development goals, rise in GDP [contribution from this section of our society also].
  4. Fulfilling right to equality under article 14= equal access to education and educational resources.

Side notes

  • WIPO Director General Francis Gurry
  • WIPO HQ: Geneva, Switzerland
  • Called Marrakesh treaty because it was adopted @Marrakesh, Morocco in 2013.
  • 64 out of 187 WIPO nations have signed this treaty. But 20 ratifications yet to come. Only then it’ll be implemented.

Govt.Scheme: educating visually challenged

Now at the national level efforts so far towards educating visually challenged:

  1. At elementary level Sarva shiksha abhyan aims at providing inclusive elementary education for children under the age of 14 years.

At Secondary level a dedicated program for educating the disabled has been formulated:

  1. Inclusive Education for disabled at secondary stage
  2. Centrally sponsored scheme started in 2009.
  3. All disabled children [age group of 14+-18+] completing 8 years of elementary education is given assistance to complete 4 years of secondary education:
  4. Assistance to access educational materials, aids, transport allowance for motion disabled, reader allowance for visually impaired, access to teacher etc.
  5. Central assistance of Rs. 3000/annum/child topped by state assistance of Rs.600/annum/child is provided.
  6. Girls provided special focus= a stipend of Rs.200/month.
  7. Implemented by state government agencies and can involve NGOs as well.