Francis Gurry led WIPO as Director General from October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2020.

WIPO Director General Discusses IP, Innovation and Global Indices at Confederation of Indian Industry Roundtable

November 15, 2018

India’s Confederation of Indian Industry organized on November 15, 2018, a roundtable discussion with industry leaders and WIPO Director General Francis Gurry to discuss India’s recent climb in global indices, such as the Global Innovation Index, of which WIPO is a co-publisher, and the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index as these relate to intellectual property (IP).

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Mr. Gurry welcomed the opportunity to discuss these important issues to Indian industry and to explore the role of IP in India’s climb in innovation rankings.

“The positive progress that we have seen - in particular in the field of IP, where we see India has integrated further into the international system joining recently several international treaties - gives great confidence to investors and partners,” said Mr. Gurry. He said this is significant as “the basis of all competition is innovation and when it comes to competing in respect to innovation, one of the key ways is through intellectual property because it protects the competitive advantage that arises from innovation.”

In the field of IP, Mr. Gurry said several trends have emerged over the past two decades, notably: Demand for IP rights has vastly exceeded the performance of the world economy; The geography of IP has changed with much of the growth coming from Asia; Complexity has increased in IP – both in terms of the architecture and in the substance of IP.

Countries, he said, are now competing on the basis of innovation through a variety of means including attracting foreign talent as well as through changing regulatory measures.

“When we look at IP and the regulatory system as to how it can best serve innovation and competition, one thing we should be concerned about is the cost of intellectual property protection,” he pointed out.

The first major cost, he said are lawyer’s fees, followed by the cost of translation of IP applications and then a small portion relates to administrative fees. Mr. Gurry said WIPO Translate, an Artificial Intelligence-based translation system developed by WIPO, can help reduce the cost of translation.

Standardization of IP-related procedures and WIPO’s global IP filing systems can also help to reduce costs, which all in turn facilitate ease of doing business. Mr. Gurry said: “In a world based on ferocious competition in innovation, these measures can help to reduce costs.”

Mr. Gurry cautioned against the growing complexity in IP systems, noting “as a consequence of the focus of policy attention on innovation, then IP is creeping into every sort of relationship between countries.” This, he said, has created a complex regulatory environment that requires a coherent system that industry is able to deal with in a relatively simple matter.

WIPO Assistant Director General and Chief of Staff Naresh Prasad welcomed the major improvements in the business environment in India, as recognized in its recent hike in global rankings. “The journey from ‘red tape to red carpet’ in India has been extraordinary and most fascinating has been the speed of change, including the optimism and enthusiasm in the future opportunities.”

The Ease of Doing Business ranking progression and the one seen in the Global Innovation Index are truly impressive, Mr. Prasad said. This is excellent news for Indian industry as the country is a huge market for goods and services. “You should capitalize on this moment and make the most of it,” he told the business leaders at the roundtable.

Mr Arvind Thakur, Co-Chairman, CII National Committee on Intellectual Property & Vice Chairman and Managing Director, NIIT Technologies, said that CII’s industry partners were pleased with the recent changes in India’s policy environment relating to promoting innovation and IP and looked at the future opportunities with optimism.

Mr. Gurry responded to questions regarding how the innovation game will continue to play out in India, noting that innovation is a long-term endeavor and that young entrepreneurs need to be patient.

One young entrepreneur asked what could be done to speed up processing of patent applications so there are no missed opportunities for start-ups. Mr. Prasad pointed out that India’s Department of Industry Promotion and Protection has made great progress in this area, with an increase in patent examiners to more than 1,000 from some 100 in 2004. “Your frustration may be genuine, but you need to be optimistic and hopeful,” he told the young entrepreneur.

CII is a non-government, not-for-profit, industry-led and industry-managed organization, with some 9000 members, from the private as well as public sectors, including SMEs and MNCs, and an indirect membership of over 300,000 enterprises from around 265 national and regional sectoral industry bodies.