It was reported earlier this month that WIPO will be setting up five new external offices in China, Russia, the US and Africa in the next two years (see IP-Watch and Managing IP reports). WIPO's plans comprehensively outlined in a Program and Budget Committee document minuting the discussions at the committee's twentieth session held from 8 - 12 July.
The first thing that occurred to this Leo was that WIPO is stepping up its presence in the BRICS. It already has an office in Brazil and with the creation of offices in Russia and China, it will be physically represented in 3 of the 5 BRICS. There is as yet no clarity on where in Africa the external offices will be located (another Leo discusses this in another post here). However, if the office ends up in South Africa, that will be 4 out of 5. Beyond 2015, an office may be set up in India as India has already requested such an office (para 28 WIPO Program and Budget Committee document). What is the significance of WIPO's presence in the BRICS?
The main aim of the external offices in Africa will be capacity building (para 27 WIPO Program and Budget Committee document). This will include conferences, training seminars, technical training for patent and trademark examiners and academic programs (para 12 WIPO Program and Budget Committee document). Some of WIPO's capacity building activities in Africa are detailed on the Africa Bureau's webpages. Capacity building is a thorny issue because it raises difficult questions like: what IP ideology should inform capacity building? How can capacity building be best tailored and delivered to promote Africa's developmental priorities and realities? What do Afro-IP readers think of these and other issues related to IP capacity building?