WIPO Defied UN Sanctions To Give Computers To Iran… For Its Patent System (Wink, Wink)

from the wow dept

Way to go WIPO. You may recall back in April we wrote about how the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a part of the UN, flat out ignored UN sanctions and gave computers to North Korea, claiming that they were to help North Korea allow for better searching of international patents. This is, of course, ridiculous, because North Korea clearly could not care any less about anyone’s patents — but does want computing power for its nuclear program. Given that, I guess it should come as little surprise that WIPO is now being accused of the exact same thing with Iran (found via Ars Technica). Yup, WIPO apparently supplied computers to Iran to “modernize” its patent office, because we all know how much Iran cares about respecting the patents of others.

Geneva-based WIPO has a mandate from members to help developing countries modernize their patent offices. Iran and North Korea, both subjects of international trade embargoes including Security Council resolutions, were both beneficiaries of “standard information-technology equipment” after meeting WIPO’s needs-assessment and validation procedures, according to Edward Kwakwa, legal counsel at the organization.

This would be the very same Edward Kwakwa, who in a private email that was revealed when the North Korea story broke, told a very different story:

I would suggest we go ahead ONLY if you think this arrangement is of crucial importance to WIPO. But given the sensitivities and the broad sweep of the sanctions language, I would prefer that WIPO simply desist from entering into any such arrangement, as it does not seem to be of any consequence or benefit to WIPO, and can bring more trouble than benefit ultimately.

We noted in the story about North Korea that WIPO officials admitted that they had done these kinds of operations before. I had, at the time, assumed they just meant with North Korea. I didn’t realize they also meant with other countries seeking to be nuclear powers and under UN sanctions. It makes you wonder who else WIPO is helping to “modernize its patent office.”

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Comments on “WIPO Defied UN Sanctions To Give Computers To Iran… For Its Patent System (Wink, Wink)”

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15 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

it makes me wonder what notice is taken of the UN. WIPO hasn’t managed to get Kirk and de Gucht to join them, have they? given what is going on with TPP atm and the backlash from ACTA, i would think they will need new jobs before long and lets face it, they are very good at keeping things in the dark and people out of the loop.

Anonymous Coward says:

Black eye, but does it matter

Do we really think that Iran can’t find other ways to smuggle PC’s into their country?

Yes, the WIPO was naughty by giving computers, and it shows a twisted sense of priorities when they think that patent systems should justify bending the rules.

But the sanction against computers is dumb and all it does is prevent common Iranians from getting machines that could help them get real propaganda-free news in and out of their hands.

It’s not really stopping the government.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Black eye, but does it matter

Most supercomputers these days, including the ones used by various national labs to simulate nuclear weapons (and thus develop better ones), are made by linking a bunch of ordinary desktop PCs together and running suitably patched versions of Linux on them. Hence, the PC embargo at least has some ground to stand on.

Does it suck for ordinary Iranians? Sure, but lots of things do. And cellphones are doing most of what the AC above is suggesting PCs would do, anyway.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

So I’ll just call for more transparancy and oversight. Not that it will ever happen. The corrupt don’t uncorrupt themselves.

After watching a few congressional hearings with normal citizens over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that transparency and honesty are simply not in the repertoire of our current politicians. I’ve never seen so many blank stares and stymied faces as in DC when someone has the gall to be completely honest. Its outside of protocol, and completely unknown in practice or expectation.

If transparency will ever happen there will need to be a long period of social and professional “education” and evolution in DC.

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