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

WIPO Director General Visits China

October 23, 2019

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry concluded a four-day visit to China that spanned four cities and covered meetings with senior officials, business leaders and speaking engagements at international conferences on intellectual property (IP).

Mr. Gurry met with member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Committee and Secretary of Shanghai Municipal Party Li Qiang, Minister of the Cyberspace Administration of China Zhuang Rongwen, Mayor of Shanghai Municipality Ying Yong, Commissioner of China National Intellectual Property Administration Shen Changyu, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology Chen Zhaoxiong, Vice Governor of Gansu Province Zhang Shizhen and other senior officials. Mr. Gurry also met CEO of the Alibaba Group Zhang Yong and other business representatives.

In a keynote address to the 31st Shanghai International Business Leaders Advisory Council (IBLAC), Mr. Gurry referenced the recently released World Intellectual Property Indicators (WIPI) report. The WIPI report showed that Asia accounted for more than two-thirds of all patent, trademark and industrial design applications in 2018 during another banner year for IP filings, with China driving overall growth.

“Asia continues to outpace other regions in filing activity for patents, trademarks, industrial designs and other intellectual property rights that are at the center of the global economy,” Mr. Gurry said “China alone accounted for almost half of all the world’s patent filings, with India also registering impressive increases. Asia has become a global hub for innovation.”

Among his activities:

Mr. Gurry met Mr. Li on Oct. 19, 2019, in Shanghai, China (photo: Courtesy of Shanghai IP Administration).
Mr. Gurry met Mr. Ying on Oct. 21, 2019 in Shanghai, China (photo: Courtesy of Shanghai IP Administration).
Mr. Gurry met Mr. Zhuang on Oct. 20, 2019, in Wuzhen, China (photo: WIPO/Zhang Junqin).
Mr. Gurry met Mr. Chen on Oct. 20, 2019, in Wuzhen, China (photo: WIPO/Zhang Junqin).

Mr. Gurry met Mr. Zhang on Oct. 20, 2019, in Wuzhen, China (photo: WIPO/Zhang Junqin).

Mr. Gurry attended the Ceremony of Shanghai Intellectual Property Innovation Award (photo: Courtesy of Shanghai IP Administration).

Mr. Gurry with other participants at the 31st Shanghai International Business Leaders' Advisory Council (photo: Courtesy of Shanghai IP Administration).

In his address at the IBLAC, Mr. Gurry told the audience that innovation in the field of IP has become a central element in governments' decision-making for development strategy.

Mr. Gurry identified three major trends in the IP field over the past decade:

Firstly, demand for intellectual property is on the rise and its growth rate is faster than the growth rate of the world economy. The strong demand for intellectual property rights (IPRs) is evidenced by the growing number of IPR applications worldwide.

Secondly, geographical distribution of IPR is undergoing a significant shift. Asia and Pacific have become a new focus for innovation.

The third trend is increasing complexity of management of IP systems: The IP regulatory and management structures are getting more and more complex. More stakeholders are joining the landscape and IP rights are becoming connected with more fields of work.

In the meantime, rapid technological development adds more complexity to the IP system. For example, data is a critical component of artificial intelligence. How to protect data with IP is a timely issue on the international agenda because artificial intelligence has been developed by different countries as a strategic capability. The regulatory framework has not kept pace and many legal rules have not yet been updated. Data and proper regulation are very important now.  Technological interoperability depends on regulatory interoperability, Mr. Gurry pointed out.

Mr. Gurry took part in the 6th World Internet Conference (Wuzhen Summit) on October 20 and delivered a speech on the importance of promoting inter-connectivity with new technologies and harmonization of the regulatory framework for new technologies.

Mr. Gurry was also present at the 16th Shanghai International IP Forum and delivered a keynote speech on October 21. He expressed appreciation of IP development in China including Shanghai and reaffirmed WIPO’s willingness to expand cooperation with stakeholders in China. He also highlighted the importance of international dialogue to meet the challenges to the IPR system posed by new technologies.

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