World Intellectual Property Organization

Director General Francis Gurry Opens WIPO Assemblies

Geneva, October 5, 2015
PR/2015/781

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry opened the WIPO Assemblies by saying that increasing interest in intellectual property is driving uptake of WIPO’s global IP systems and resulting in a healthy financial state for the Organization.

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Welcoming hundreds of delegates to the 10-day engagement, Mr. Gurry also cited advancements in the integration of infrastructure underlying the worldwide IP system, particularly in developing countries, as well as progress in public-private partnerships with WIPO involvement.

Director General Francis Gurry at the opening of the WIPO Assemblies 2015 (Photo: WIPO).

The Director General said that a “good overall surplus” is expected for the 2014-2015 biennium, following a 37 million Swiss francs surplus at the end of 2014.

“The Organization continues to enjoy a sound and, even, fortunate financial condition,” he said, as “a result of the rising interest in, and demand for, intellectual property, as knowledge, technology and creative works move to the center of the contemporary economy and as governments respond by orienting economic strategies to innovation and creativity.” He added: “Intellectual property is a necessary, although not sufficient, component of successful innovation ecosystems and thriving environments for the creative industries.”

In addition to the continued growth of WIPO’s global IP systems - the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), the Madrid System for marks and the Hague System for designs - geographical participation has evolved in line with more general economic trends. Asia, the Director General observed, is now the major origin of international patent applications, accounting for around 40% of the total, as against 30% for North America and 27 % for Europe.

Mr. Gurry underlined WIPO’s continued assurance of high quality of services while maintaining both staff and fees at a constant level for seven years.

The Director General also pointed to advances in the soft infrastructure that underlies the operation of the IP system worldwide, namely global databases and information technology (IT) platforms, systems and tools. “The various platforms that the Organization is providing are increasingly forming part of a single global IP infrastructure platform that will, in the coming years, become more integrated.”

These, he said, “will serve the interests of governments, users and the interested public alike by increasing efficiency, cost-effectiveness and transparency, as well as by enhancing the quality of outcomes in the operation of the IP system worldwide.”

Mr. Gurry also noted these platforms and systems represent a very good example of the implementation of the goal of the Development Agenda of mainstreaming development in the work of the Organization as they are oriented to the inclusion of the developing countries and to building their capacity to use and to participate in the IP system.

WIPO’s public-private partnerships are also bearing fruit, he said. WIPO Re:Search shares intellectual property to advance drug discovery in the areas of neglected tropical diseases, malaria and tuberculosis. Access to Research for Development and Innovation (ARDI) offers free or affordable access to scientific journals in LDCs and developing countries. Access to Specialized Patent Information (ASPI) partnership provides users in LDCs and developing countries with access to commercial patent databases. The Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) has made great progress in providing a practical vehicle for implementing the objectives of the Marrakesh Treaty.

“In each of these public-private partnerships, the private sector is making available or donating intellectual and financial assets. In each, the major beneficiary is persons and institutions in developing countries,” the Director General said. “Again, the partnerships are good examples of the mainstreaming of development and have been developed and are managed in parts of the Organization outside our formal development sector,” he said.

Mr. Gurry pointed out difficulties in moving forward in normative cooperation which provides the framework within which both the private and the public sectors are able to operate.

The lack of capacity to agree, he said, is a consequence of the increased value of intangibles and intellectual capital in the economy which has made innovation the focus of competition between enterprises, industries and economies. There are also enormous asymmetries in the distribution of knowledge and technology across the world and in the capacity to generate innovation, he said. In addition, the proliferation of bilateral, regional and plurilateral cooperation creates a more complex architecture that “tends, naturally, to suck some of the oxygen out of the multilateral space.”

These developments, Mr. Gurry said, require careful thought by member states on what can and should be done at the multilateral level.

The WIPO Assemblies, held between October 5 to 14, 2015, elected Ambassador Gabriel Duque, Colombia’s Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization, as Chair of the WIPO General Assembly.

A full slate of member state events are planned during the Assemblies, with engagements hosted by the Kingdom of Thailand, the Czech Republic, Spain, India, Slovenia, United Kingdom, Georgia and Republic of Korea.

Mr. Gurry said that an extensive program of cultural and other events is “a very good sign of the active support for, and constructive engagement in, the Organization on the part of member states.”

About WIPO

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is the global forum for intellectual property policy, services, information and cooperation. A specialized agency of the United Nations, WIPO assists its 189 member states in developing a balanced international IP legal framework to meet society's evolving needs. It provides business services for obtaining IP rights in multiple countries and resolving disputes. It delivers capacity-building programs to help developing countries benefit from using IP. And it provides free access to unique knowledge banks of IP information.

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