Francis Gurry is appointed Director General of WIPO.

September 22, 2008

The 184 Member States of the World Intellectual Property Organization unanimously appointed Francis Gurry as the Organization's new Director General on September 22.
Mr. Gurry, an Australian national and 23-year veteran of WIPO, was appointed by acclamation at the opening of the Organization's annual Assemblies Monday morning. He succeeds Dr. Kamil Idris, who served as Director General since 1997.
The appointment by the General Assembly, WIPO's highest governing body, follows Mr. Gurry's nomination in May by the WIPO Coordination Committee. Mr. Gurry, who was previously WIPO Deputy Director General overseeing patents, the Patent Cooperation Treaty, the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center and Global IP issues, will take office on October 1. 

In his acceptance speech on September 22, Mr. Gurry outlined challenges facing the world of intellectual property, and committed to a strategic realignment of the Organization. He highlighted in particular the challenge of finding solutions to the exponential growth in demand for patent services around the world, and the need to re-examine the 20th century model of returning value to creators, performers and their business associates; and he called for reflection on WIPO's role in countering international trade in counterfeit and pirated goods. 

Mr. Gurry committed to building on the work of the Development Agenda, and evoked the opportunity for WIPO to construct a global knowledge infrastructure, consisting of freely available databases of technological and scientific information, in order to share the social benefits of the intellectual property system. He proposed to establish a new division with the skills and resources required to provide member states with the level of economic and statistical research, analysis and impact studies which they needed to assess the best means of making intellectual property work for their countries.  He also called for concrete outcomes to negotiations relating to the protection of traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions. 

Mr. Gurry spoke of the challenges which united the UN and the global community, such as climate change, desertification, epidemics, access to health care, food security and the preservation of biodiversity. Historically, he said, mankind has always turned to technology to find solutions. Intellectual property policies designed to stimulate the creation and diffusion of technology are thus, he stressed, directly relevant to the consideration of the ways in which the global community can respond to the problems. Mr. Gurry proposed to set up a division within the WIPO secretariat to focus specifically on the contribution that intellectual property and WIPO can make to meeting these global challenges within the framework of collective action.

Mr. Gurry  announced his plan to undertake a comprehensive process of strategic realignment of the Organization in order to improve its functioning and perfomance.  The process, he said, will cover WIPO's corporate culture, the efficiency of its business processes and the realignment of its programs, structures and resources to the strategic goals.   


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