70 Years of National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) and 30 Years of INPI Trophies

WIPO Director General Daren Tang’s Speech

Paris, November 25, 2021


Director General of the Institut National de la Propriété industrielle, Mr. Pascal Faure,

Friends and Colleagues across the INPI family,

Friends and Colleagues from the global IP family,

Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the World Intellectual Property Organization, it is a great honor to be able to join you in person to celebrate the 70th anniversary of INPI and the 30th anniversary of the INPI Trophies.

In the words of Voltaire, “appreciation is a wonderful thing: it makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well”.

This quote carries particular resonance this evening as we gather in appreciation of INPI, your seven decades of excellence in IP, and the enduring contribution you have made, and continue to make, to the development of the global IP ecosystem.

But while INPI may have been established in 1951, you are the descendent of a much longer lineage – one that spans three centuries and which encapsulates France’s rich and proud history of supporting the development of la propriété industrielle.

It is a heritage whose deep roots can be traced all the way back to 1791 and to when the government – inspired by the Chevalier de Boufflers and his maxim that “if there is a true property for man, it is his thought” – signed the law which gave birth to the Directory of Inventions and Patents.

It is a history which passes through 1883, to the signature of the first international agreement on IP rights – right here in this very city – and to the creation of one of the two International Bureaus which remains at the heart of our work at the World Intellectual Property Organization today.

It is a story which encompasses Victor Hugo, the Association Litteraire et Artistique Internationale and the Berne Convention of 1886. And it is a past which began to take its modern form 120 years ago with the creation of France’s first Office of National Patents and Trademarks.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

What this illustrious history demonstrates is that INPI’s heritage goes beyond IP, innovation and creativity to encompass ideas of progress, of individual rights and of civilization.

And yet INPI is much more than a manifestation of its past.

Over the last seventy years INPI has proven a skilled custodian and a worthy heir to France's proud legacy in IP.

This is evident from the very moment you approach INPI’s HQ and are greeted by a sign that reads, “Bienvenue à la Maison des Innovateurs”.

These six words neatly capture the full scope of your mission today – as not just an IP registry, but as an innovation agency, ready to support inventors, creators, small and medium enterprises, startups, entrepreneurs, research institutes and more to bring their ideas to life.

This mission is particularly significant as we gear up to meet the great challenges of our time.
Indeed, today we find ourselves at a moment not unlike 1951.

Just as it was 70 years ago, we seem to be on the cusp on a new chapter of our world. One where we are being challenged in ways not seen for many decades – one where we are beset by the winter of a pandemic, the existential danger of climate change, and a growing sense of inequity.

And yet we also sense great opportunity in these times, which is so well encapsulated in the spirit and energy of the people I met at Station F earlier this morning.

At this moment, we need to find it in ourselves to look firmly to the future – and for France to look beyond Europe, to the world – as we bring all of our innovative capacities to overcome our challenges and lay the foundation for the next chapter of our growth.

As we face this future, France can take immense pride in the innovative and creative talent that we are celebrating tonight.

For the last thirty years, the INPI Trophies have recognized excellence in IP development, and I would like to warmly congratulate each of our fifteen nominees this evening.

You span a vast number of industries from 3D-mobile robots to low carbon cement; needle free injection to conduction-based wireless charging.

Whether you have nearly 700 employees like Olmix or a team of 4 like SON, each of you is a testament to the crucial role that IP can play in the successful development of a startup or an SME.

Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As we reflect on all that has been achieved over the last 70 years, let us remember INPI’s high scope of ambition and the proud legacy upon which your work stands.

INPI has been a critical part of the story of French invention and innovation for 70 years, and I have no doubt that Mr. Faure and the team at INPI will continue to support, shape and drive the future of French innovation.

Once again, and on behalf of all your friends at WIPO, congratulations on the two milestone anniversaries we are celebrating this evening.

Thank you very much.