WIPO Director General Visits Mexico, Meets Senior Government Officials and Other Stakeholders

March 25, 2022

Mexico City – WIPO will support Mexico’s efforts to leverage the intellectual property (IP) system through tailored programs that achieve concrete results, especially by those who have been traditionally underserved by the IP system, namely indigenous communities, women, SMEs and start-ups.

This was WIPO Director General Daren Tang’s message during an official visit to Mexico from March 24 to 26, 2022 where he met the Secretary (Minister) of Culture, Secretary (Minister) of Economy, IP government officials, members of the judiciary, IP professionals and lawyers as well as representatives of indigenous communities, SMEs and start-ups.

WIPO Director General Daren Tang and Mexican Secretary of Culture Alejandra Frausto Guerrero (Photo: WIPO)

Secretary of Culture Alejandra Frausto Guerrero said that Mexico is building a creative economy that is supported by IP. She said the country has been blessed with a rich culture going back to Pre-Columbian times and is a culture powerhouse. One of the priorities for her Ministry is to preserve, promote and protect its cultural heritage against any unfair exploitation, citing foreign fashion houses that have misappropriated Mexican indigenous designs in the past. Secretary Frausto also highlighted the need to empower women entrepreneurs.

Ambassador Carmen Moreno Toscano, Under Secretary for Foreign Relations, said that IP is a key tool to promote and develop innovation and creativity and reaffirmed that using the tools of the IP system is a priority area for the Government.

Senator Susana Harp Iturribarria, who represents the State of Oaxaca in the Mexican Congress and is also a singer of traditional music, agreed about the critical role of IP in promoting innovation and creativity. She said using the tools of the IP system is a priority area for the Government.

At an event hosted by Secretary of Economy Tatiana Clouthier, Mr. Tang said WIPO will continue to support indigenous artisans, many of whom are women. He highlighted a project that WIPO is pioneering with Mexico to support the production of traditional silk – “Seda de Cajonos” from San Pedro Cajonos in the State of Oaxaca . This project is being developed in the context of the WIPO COVID Package aiming at defining and implementing a business strategy, leveraging on the “Seda de Cajonos” geographical indication (GI) and combining it with branding and packaging to help this artisanal heritage product find new markets.

WIPO Director General Daren Tang at an event hosted by Mexican Secretary of Economy Tatiana Clouthier (right) (Photo: WIPO)

Representative of “Seda de Cajonos” Genoveva Martinez described the benefits that GI protection had brought to the community – both in terms of the financial returns and boosting to the image of the region and its artisans. She said GI protection had also helped the community to develop the products and add value resulting in significant financial gains.

Representative of “Seda de Cajonos” Genoveva Martinez describing benefits of GI protection to the community (Photo: WIPO)

Mr. Tang said GIs are a powerful tool for sustainable development, prosperity and preservation of traditional know-how and local culture. He noted that Mexico has an important tradition of protecting GIs, across spirits, agricultural products and handicrafts. Moreover, IP can have a unifying effect.

Secretary of Economy Tatiana Clouthier said any plan for the diversification of the economy and exports must include an IP component.  She said the story of “Seda de Cajonos,” is an example of both inclusion and diversification. In this case, IP protection has helped to promote the products and prevent misappropriation.  It has also created jobs. She said that an online platform is now making these products available to the whole world and has thereby opened up new markets and sources of income for this community.  

WIPO Director General Daren Tang and Mexican Secretary of Economy Tatiana Clouthier (Photo: WIPO/Amorim-Borher)

At the same event, Mr. Tang listened to the concerns of a representatives of start-ups from a variety of sectors and SMEs.  He observed that the country’s over 4 million SMEs constitute the backbone of the economy and a large source of employment and that strategic use of IP as a business tool can help these firms to develop and expand.

In response to a question from Mr. Tang to share the challenges they face, several speakers evoked the cost of protection and enforcement but agreed that this was an investment worth making. They appealed to WIPO and the Government to put in the right infrastructure to facilitate use of the IP system by smaller enterprises. Mr. Tang referenced an ongoing study being piloted with Mexican industrial property office IMPI to study the use of IP by SMEs and what policies can be put in place to further support them in using IP to grow their businesses.

In a meeting with representatives of the IP law profession Mr. Tang said that WIPO as a provider of IP services is always keen to receive feedback on how it can improve its services to serve the needs of users of WIPO’s system: “WIPO sees its applicants as customers and wants to bring about a more user-centered approach to designing and improving our services. In this way, we hope to increase the usage of our services, which is not an end in itself but will better support local entrepreneurs and businesses who need to move their IP across borders.”

Mr. José Juan Mendez from the Societies and Associations of IP Attorneys, said his organization shared WIPO’s vision for a balanced and inclusive IP system.

Mr. Tang also met with a group representing the judiciary. The magistrates outlined the challenges of dealing with IP-related cases, in particular with respect to the misappropriation of cultural assets. The Director General invited the magistrates to participate in WIPO’s Judicial Institute where IP judges from around the world  share experiences and discuss common challenges, and also highlighted the WIPO Arbitration and Meditation Center as an avenue for disputants to consider alternative dispute resolution avenues.

In addition, Mr. Tang took part in an open dialogue with a group of women artisans and performers who shared their experiences with the Director General, citing the difficulties in acquiring protection and appreciation for their work. He said WIPO would work with relevant Mexican Government entities to put in place programs to support women entrepreneurs in indigenous communities. He also mentioned the recent launch of an IP for Exporters program in Mexico and other countries, and said that this could be tailored to focus on indigenous communities.

Mr. Tang praised the building of a community among women entrepreneurs to share common challenges and that WIPO could connect this group with women indigenous communities in other parts of the world. He said it is important for their voices to be heard.

Video: Director General Tang vows support for indigenous peoples.

In a meeting with representatives of collective management organizations, Mr. Tang heard concerns from this group of stakeholders and the challenges they face with respect to securing remuneration for creators. They agreed on the need to build a culture of respect of IP, and that this could only happen when local musicians, artists and creators become advocates and supporters of the IP ecosystem.

A common theme in Mr. Tang’s meetings was WIPO’s commitment to work to building a more inclusive IP ecosystem that supports all countries and communities. He said IP is not just about a bundle of legal rights but a powerful catalyst for job creation, investment, business growth and economic and social development. He said: “We are no longer just a technical agency but a developmental agency that helps Member States use IP for growth and development.”

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