Developing countries have formed a group to promote their interests at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
The Development Agenda Group, led by Egypt and made up of eighteen developing nations, marks "another step in the confrontation between rich and developing countries over intellectual property rights (IPR)".
Developed countries tend to promote IPR as a way of encouraging innovation, while poorer countries often believe that IPR obstructs access to essential medicines and helps rich countries steal indigenous knowledge.
Ambassador Hisham Badr, permanent representative of Egypt to the United Nations, said that although WIPO has had a development agenda since 2007 it has been hard to implement.
"The Development Agenda Group commits itself to actively contributing to mainstreaming the development dimension in all areas of WIPO's work," he said, adding that the group is open to all countries and "aimed to build coalitions among pro-development groups in the agency".
The group comprises Algeria, Brazil, Cuba, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Uruguay and Yemen.