World Intellectual Property Day 2021, April 26 - Message from WIPO Director General Daren Tang

April 22, 2021

Small and Medium Enterprises - SMEs – are often run by someone you know – someone who lives down the road, a friend from school, a relative you grew up with, your siblings, your parents.  

Wherever you come from, SMEs are the backbone of your economy. And when we put them together, they make up 90% of all companies in the world, employ 70% of workers globally and make up half of the world’s economy. 

SMEs, simply put, are the engines and the unsung heroes of our economy.

And yet for many of them, there is still a lack of knowledge about how IP can help them translate their ideas into products and services, and how IP can be a powerful tool for them not to just survive, but to also compete and grow.

A recent study shows that that SMEs in Europe that own IP rights like trademarks, designs and patents have close to 70% more revenue per employee than those that haven't yet used IP. But only 9% of SMEs in Europe have actually registered their IP rights. If this is the situation in Europe, I am certain that it is similar, or even more stark, in other parts of the world.

This has to change.

And that is why this year, the focus of World Intellectual Property Day is on SMEs, and our theme is "IP and SMEs: Taking your ideas to market."

SMEs, of course, face different challenges in different parts of the world, and how we help them will need to be customized to the needs of your part of the world. But it will be a powerful message for us to send the signal that together we will be supporting them, whether it is through raising their awareness of IP by talking about it in a business friendly way, designing programs to demystify the process of IP registration and protection and commercialization, creating tools that allow them to be better at IP management and strategy, or helping them to build skills and capabilities in using IP to grow their businesses.

Whatever help we can render to our SMEs, will be help that we render to the bedrock of your economy, and the backbone of the global economy. Ultimately, it will help our world to build back better.

So on this World IP Day, let’s celebrate our SMEs and work together to help them use IP as a tool to grow, so that they can take their ideas to market.

Happy World IP Day.