Encouraging Creativity was the theme of Seventh World Intellectual Property
Day, celebrated on April 26, 2007. For many people, the connection between intellectual property
(IP) and creativity is far from obvious. As WIPO Director General Kamil Idris said in his IP Day
message, the word creativity conjures a world of artists and music makers, of poets and problem
solvers, whereas IP summons images of lawyers and courtrooms. But it is the IP system that sustains
those creators. On April 26, Member States and organizations around the world joined WIPO in
celebrating this connection in different ways on the seventh World IP Day.
At WIPO’s headquarters, participants from Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe took part in
an animated discussion on "Making IP Work for Development," hosted by the International Chamber of
Commerce. Moderated by the Philippine Ambassador Enrique Manalo and the Brazilian Vice-Chair of the
ICC Commission on IP, Mr. Peter Siemsen, the outcome of the discussions will provide some of the
business input for the next WIPO Development Agenda meeting.
Reaching out to young people
IP Day supplement in Portugal's El negocios
The Hellenic Copyright Organization (Greece) staged a play about copyright
written for children. For the older audience, there was a photography exhibition, Greek and
jazz music concerts, and talks about copyright, patents and trademarks. The Greek Industrial
Property Organization also focused on young people with an open day at its premises, including an
educational program and creativity competition for children.
A group of 15 and 16 year-old students in Portugal performed humorous
sketches about the protection of IP and the fight against counterfeiting, entitled “Stand up IP.”
Over 1,000 students attended the event at Lisbon University. The filmed sketches will form the
basis of an awareness campaign in high schools across Portugal.
Belarus announced the results of two competitions for students and graduates:
the first aimed to identify students with the skills required to join the IP office’s human
resources; the second identified outstanding inventors and creators among science, engineering and
industrial design students.
Students from local schools performed jazz and exhibited their creative works to members of
the U.S. Congress and leaders from business, government, and international organizations, including
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez and Congresswoman Diane Watson (above) at an event
sponsored by WIPO and the George Washington University Law School’s Creative and Innovative Economy
Center. (Photo: Steve O'Toole)
Singapore IP office launched a year-long campaign with the aim of changing
the attitudes of young people toward downloading music illegally and buying pirated CDs. A
survey conducted among young people earlier in the year revealed that though 80 percent knew it was
wrong to illegally download music from the Internet, 42 percent still felt unconcerned with the
consequences of infringement. Liew Woon Yin, Director General of the office, explained that the
campaign would include a message to parents that when their children download material from the
Internet, they might inadvertently be infecting home computers with viruses.
Hong Kong, SAR China, launched the School Tour Program 2007 with the support
of a famous young pop singer (can we have the name?), using themes such as “Respect Originality,” “
Respect IP,” and “Say No to Illegal Downloading.” Students and professionals working in the
arts shared their experiences of using the IP system. The tour will visit 50 secondary schools
before the end of the year.
Paraguay launched an outreach program for young people, using the comic books
jointly developed by WIPO/INDECOPI. Workshops in schools aim to help students recognize the
different aspects of IP in their daily lives. The Latvian Patent Office presented
the Latvian language version of the WIPO publication “Learn from the Past, Create the
Future: Inventions and Patents” to schools across the country.
An “Innovation Parliament” with participants from Finland and
Russia discussed the theme “Innovation Crossing Borders.” The parliament held
two plenary sessions in Lappeenranta, Eastern Finland, which shares a border with Russia, and made
recommendations to increase Finland’s competitiveness. The Italian Patent and
Trademark Office (UIBM), in cooperation with the European Office for Harmonization
of the Internal Market (OHIM), organized an international seminar on “Community Trademarks and
Design: Protection and Defense Strategies” at the Palazzo Ducale in Venice.
World IP Day also brought together those who question the system. Various blogs debated
the validity of the patent system. Others tackled issues of copyright and the public domain, such
as in discussions organized by the CopyNight group on the topic, “Encouraging Creativity: Are We?”
The public destruction of over 80,000 DVDs, CDs and tapes by the Romanian Copyright Office
attracted much media attention.
In newspapers and on air
Media coverage in Cote d’Ivoire, included a live debate with short
video clips on the weekly television program Ça m’intéresse (“That’s interesting!”). An
editorial in the Senegalese press called for an accelerated reform of IP
structures in the country, in order to leverage the creative and intellectual talents of its people
and the quality of its produce. Kuwait organized a television broadcast and an
award ceremony for a national inventors and young short story writers.
Australia’s popular TV show, The New
Inventors, joined forces with the IP Australia office for a World IP
Day Live Forum, offering viewers the chance to put IP-related questions to a panel
Week-long celebrations in Jamaica included the publication of a special
newspaper supplement publicizing the activities of the IP office and explaining the various tools
of the IP system. Extracts from the WIPO/INDECOPI comic books were included for young readers.
Spain intensified its Contra la Pirateria, defiende tu cultura (“
Fight piracy, defend your culture”) campaign, airing the message on radio, television and in the
press, and displaying it on banners in Madrid’s busy shopping district and on the façade of the Ministry building.
Distribution of WIPO comics in Bahrain shopping mall.
In the Kingdom of Bahrain, a series of newspaper articles on different fields
of industrial property was followed by a radio discussion of the topic, “Are you buying original or
fake goods?” The IP Directorate celebrated World IP Day in Bahrain’s most popular shopping mall to
raise public awareness by answering questions and by distributing brochures and souvenirs.
Pakistan used World IP Day to announce the full integration of all IP-related
government administrations into one office, called IPO Pakistan, which will handle patents,
trademarks, plant breeder’s rights and copyright. These activities were previously handled by
three separate ministries.
The newly created Zambia Police Intellectual Property Unit, accompanied by
the police force’s brass band, did a one kilometer march through the center of Lusaka to the
Freedom Statue, carrying a banner with their modified “enforcement” mission statement.
From the United Kingdom reports poured in from both public and private
entities organizing events to mark the day. And the newspaper coverage they received was
impressive. The recently renamed UK Intellectual Property Office published the results of a survey,
designed to gauge the level of IP awareness in businesses of all sizes and sectors of
industry. Results revealed that small businesses are still missing out on income generation
potential from innovation because a lack of awareness of their IP rights. Some law firms, such as
Pinsent Masons, responded to this gap by offering free legal advice for the day to entrepreneurs on
copyright, trade marks, patents or designs.
The need to increase understanding of IP was a recurring theme on IP Day. While World IP
Day offers an opportunity to make a splash once a year, sustained, well focused IP outreach needs
to be an ongoing activity all year round.
Sylvie Castonguay, WIPO Magazine Editorial Staff, Communications and Public Outreach Division