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

AI and IP Top Talks in Director General’s Visit to Finland

February 14, 2019

The intersection between intellectual property (IP) and artificial intelligence topped the agenda in discussions in Helsinki between WIPO Director General Francis Gurry and senior Finnish officials during a February 4-5, 2019 visit.

The complexity of formulating policies in a rapidly changing technological environment, including in relation to artificial intelligence, was the focus of talks between Mr. Gurry and Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä and Minister of Transport and Communications Anne Berner.

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry and Minister of Transport and Communications Anne Berner (photo: Ministry of Transport and Communications).

The Director General welcomed Finland’s engagement with the international IP system, referring to the country’s “consistent, constant and constructive engagement in the international development of IP policy at WIPO.”

Mr. Gurry said Finland has “an advanced consciousness of the importance of innovation to competitiveness and to building a strong economy,” noting its outstanding performance in innovation capacity, featuring number seven in WIPO’s Global Innovation Index.

In an address to a seminar organized by the Finnish Patent and Registration Office (PRH) on IP Rights as Key Success Factors for AI Driven Businesses, grouping some 200 participants from the public and private sectors and academia, Mr. Gurry highlighted the role of the intellectual property system in the rapidly changing technological environment.

Director General Gurry speaks on AI and IP at Helsinki event (photo: Ministry for Foreign Affairs/Ilkka Toikkanen) - Watch videos on YouTube.

The Director General presented the results of a recently released ground-breaking WIPO report on artificial intelligence innovation which showed a recent global upsurge in AI inventive Activity.

The first publication in the "WIPO Technology Trends" series defined and measured innovations in  AI, uncovering more than 340,000 AI-related patent applications and 1.6 million scientific papers published since AI first emerged in the 1950s, with the majority of all AI-related patent filings published since 2013.

Mr. Gurry said the study tells us that traditional categories of intellectual property do have an application in the field of AI “but it doesn’t tell us what gaps there are.” 

“We would like to start at the international level a conversation about these issues so that advanced countries like Finland are able to share some of their experience and inform a conversation and nothing more, at the international level.  We are far from the stage of proposing any solutions.  We are really trying to articulate at this stage the right questions,” he added.

Mr. Gurry also met with Mr. Antti Riivari, Director General, Finnish Patent and Registration Office (PRH) to discuss bilateral relations and possibilities of further building on cooperation between WIPO and PRH.

Director General Gurry met with Director General of Finnish Patent and Registration Office Antti Riivari during official visit to Helsinki (photo: Nina Kaverinen).

During his official visit, Mr. Gurry also visited Korjaamo Culture Factory, where he saw a demonstration of technologies developed by the VTT Technical Research Center of Finland and held talks with Mr. Antti Vasara, President of the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.