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."