Remember That Report About WIPO Misconduct That WIPO Tried To Censor Through Bullying? It's Been Leaked

from the of-course-it-would-eventually-get-out dept

Last fall, we wrote about claims that World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) director Francis Gurry was involved in some quite incredible practices in secretly obtaining DNA samples from WIPO employees, to try to sniff out who had sent certain letters. This came after some other scandals involving ignoring UN sanctions (even though WIPO is an UN organization) against sending computers to both North Korea and Iran.

Earlier this year, Gurry was re-nominated for the position. Soon after that, it was reported that one of Gurry’s top deputies, James Pooley, had filed a document accusing Gurry of misconduct over the DNA situation and some other things. But what was really crazy was that when patent blogger Gene Quinn posted a copy of Pooley’s document along with his own analysis of it, WIPO’s top lawyer threatened Quinn with criminal charges for merely reporting on a document filed by a top WIPO official! Quinn, who was recovering from a medical procedure at the time and didn’t want to deal with the hassle of a fight, decided to take down the post and the document.

Last week, the Register reposted the document along with an article declaring it an “exclusive.” That’s a bit debatable, given that Quinn clearly had it before them (something the Register doesn’t even bother to acknowledge). The Register also fails to acknowledge that the basics of the DNA scandal were known months ago. Still, it’s good to see the document finally be brought to light, and we’ll see if WIPO now goes after The Register like it did Quinn. We’ve also posted the document below.

The full report goes beyond just the DNA scandal, to making a direct claim of corruption, concerning a non-competitive procurement process, that resulted in WIPO doing a deal with an Australian company run by an acquaintance of Gurry. According to Pooley’s letter, the firm, Argo Pacific, run by Gurry’s friend Paul Twomey, put in a bid that was much more expensive than others. Upon realizing this, Gurry directed the committee evaluating the proposals to change the evaluation formula, such that price was much less important, leading Argo to “win.” Even then, Argo failed to beat the competition, so the letter alleges that Gurry totally removed the process from the competitive bidding system, and awarded it directly to Argo Pacific.

To be fair, none of this is proven — though the stories of problems within WIPO have been around for a while. Furthermore, some have suggested that this is actually a coordinated attack to smear Gurry for not being as willing to push US maximalist patent and copyright policies (and being more willing to listen to developing nations). Still, the allegations are certainly serious and should be investigated. The fact that WIPO has tried to completely stifle and censor a blogger discussing this filed report by a WIPO official with bogus threats of criminal prosecution only make it that much more worthy of ensuring the situation is fully investigated. As I noted, when we last wrote about it, the attempt to intimidate, threaten and silence a blogger seems even more serious than the other allegations against Gurry.

Meanwhile, The Register does have more details about what has happened since this complaint was submitted — and it continues to raise questions about how WIPO is managed:

The US State Department and South Korean officials have both asked for an independent investigation into the allegations, but instead WIPO appointed its own committee to decide if further action was required. This committee was allegedly implicated in the original, secret DNA testing of senior staff.

In May this year WIPO’s “Independent Advisory and Oversight Committee” (IAOC) considered whether there was a conflict of interest in handing the investigation to the organisation’s own Internal Audit and Oversight Division (IAOD).

In early May, WIPO’s legal counsel advised:

?The director of the IAOD deemed himself to have a conflict of interest, due to the fact that the Report refers to him (together with a number of other WIPO officials) in the DNA allegations. For this reason he recused himself from considering the report.?

But by the end of May, the IAOD, and its director Thierry Rajaobelina, apparently decided it was quite capable of carrying out a preliminary investigation without any fear of a conflict of interest.

Folks within WIPO are apparently not pleased with this and there has been continued back and forth over whether or not there will be a truly independent investigation of Gurry and his activities as it relates to the DNA samples.

No matter what, this is clearly an issue of public interest, and we certainly hope that WIPO will not stoop so low as to try to censor other members of the press, as it did with Quinn.

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Comments on “Remember That Report About WIPO Misconduct That WIPO Tried To Censor Through Bullying? It's Been Leaked”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Corrupt UN and Corrupt USA

Why are these 2 entities looking so much like each other these days?

Governments will always have corruption issues, but the world still had hope when the USA kept its nose relatively clean and ran in fear from the public for the most part.

Now all bets are off. All of these internal oversight committees are slaves to those they oversee! The corruption has become so blatant that those in power are no longer able to see it for what it is!

To steal a line from “The Incredibles”… when EVERYONE is corrupt, no one will be!

Stuart (profile) says:

Re: Corrupt UN and Corrupt USA

The reason is simple The UN has some power. When someone has power they do things to keep it or increase it. Period.
The US and the UN look the same due to this. As people we combat it by not allowing enough power to get centralized that it effects us like this. Lately though we have become lazy and “Safety” and “Free Stuff” has become more important than anything else.

Anonymous Coward says:

Interesting! But we really wonder if the director is in fact ” pushing for the interests of developing countries”. Our understanding from reading IP Watch is that little money of the WIPO budget goes to development. In fact, while everyone is shouting about streamlining development, behind the scenes money is being spent on developed countries. So no – it’s certainly not sounding like the US is up in arms because this person Gurry is favouring developing countries. It sounds more like this person is favouring China and Russia. Did WIPO juts open an office in China and will soon be opening one in Russia? So you open external offices supposedly to serve the development goals but they are only in these two countries? Will there be offices in Africa? If so, what would be their mandate? If everything gets moved out of WIPO headquarters, what will be left in New York and Switzerland? Skeleton offices of highly paid bureaucrats, 99% coming from the developed world? Whatever the scenario it is a lose-lose situation for the developing world. These developing countries had a chance to change the course of their destiny but instead they seem to have wanted someone in power who defies the interests of the USA (for what reason?) while maintaining the interests of the UK, some Europeans and Asian countries, and most notably Australia. Something is going on and we don’t think we have heard or seen a fraction of what is deep down the very murky underworld. Our prognosis is that WIPO will be considered as only a fee paying entity with no technical assistance and very little negotiations. The services will remain the PCT, Madrid, the Hague and for the copyright system, we hear mention of a digital market place? What is that? The only thing we can think of is WIPO becoming a big collecting agency (as in collecting royalties?). Is there no study or the sort that can open our eyes as to what really is going on in this UN body?

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