WIPO Director General Visits the Republic of Korea

June 13, 2019

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry met with Republic of Korea Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon and other senior Government officials during a June 11–14, 2019, trip to the country that included participation at an IP5 meeting and a visit to an e-sports stadium to join youths in online gaming.

Photo of Francis Gurry and Lee Nak-yon
WIPO Director General Francis Gurry meets Republic of Korea Prime Minister
Lee Nak-yon (Photo: Courtesy of the Prime Minister's Office, Republic of Korea)

Mr. Gurry and the Prime Minister discussed a range of issues, including the fast-changing international environments for technology, trade and the economy.

They agreed to further strengthen the already excellent cooperation between WIPO and the Republic of Korea, while discussing the importance of multilateral cooperation in the realm of international intellectual property issues.

Director General Gurry expressed his appreciation to the Republic of Korea and said he hoped that WIPO could continue to deepen its relationship with the Korean Intellectual Property Office in response to the rapid advancement of emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI).

In a meeting with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Korea, Kim Myeongsu, Mr. Gurry heard of the Republic of Korea’s efforts to strengthen international IP-related dispute resolution expertise and efficiency, and willingness to help developing countries in the field of education and share experiences with them in the IP dispute-settlement area.

Photo of Francis Gurry and Kim Myeongsu, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
Director General Gurry is greeted by Kim Myeongsu, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (Photo: Courtesy of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Korea)

Director General Gurry expressed appreciation to the Chief Justice for the Republic of Korea’s contributions to WIPO's activities, including capacity building.

Director General visits e-gaming stadium

At LoL Park in Seoul, Director General Gurry watched as pro e-sport gamers played League of Legend and discussed the IP-related aspects of this growing industry, popular in the Republic of Korea, before trying his own hand at online gaming.

Photo Director General Gurry learns about activities at LoL Park, an e-sports stadium in Seoul
Director General Gurry joins the e-sports community at LoL Park, Seoul (Photo: Riot Games Korea)

Director General meets Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism

In meeting with Park Yang-woo, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the topics of conversation included challenges related to copyright, WIPO's role in IP dispute resolution, the IP system’s reponse to artificial intelligence, and future cooperation for the development of the international IP system and its greater use.

Photo of Francis Gurry and Park Yang-woo, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism
Mr. Park, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Korea, presented a signed copy of the WIPO Mediation Pledge for IP and Technology Disputes to WIPO’s Director General. (Photo: Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism)

IP5 meeting

Mr. Gurry also attended the Head of Office meeting of the IP5 grouping that comprises the European Patent Office (EPO), the Japan Patent Office (JPO), the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), the National Intellectual Property Administration of the People's Republic of China (CNIPA) and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Photo Director General Gurry learns about activities at LoL Park, an e-sports stadium in Seoul
From left to right: Antonio Campinos, President of the EPO; Naoko Munakata, Commissioner, Japan Patent Office; Park Won-joo, Commissioner of KIPO; Changyu Shen, Commissioner of CNIPA;. Andrei Iancu, Under Secretary of Commerce for IP & Director of the USPTO; Mr. Gurry. (Photo: KIPO)
Photo Director General Gurry learns about activities at LoL Park, an e-sports stadium in Seoul
Director General Gurry at the Head of Office meeting, held in the Republic of Korea, of the IP5. (Photo: KIPO)

WIPO–KIPO

In their meeting, Director General Gurry and KIPO Commissioner Park Won-joo exchanged updates and shared views on recent developments in the landscape for patents, trademarks, designs and artificial intelligence.

They also discussed the Republic of Korea Funds-in-Trust (FIT) program at WIPO and other WIPO-related issues. Mr. Park affirmed his commitment to further strengthening FIT projects and other areas of cooperation. Mr. Gurry hailed the valued contributions of KIPO, particularly noting the capacity building in developing countries through various Korean FIT projects, while underlining WIPO’s efforts to increasingly apply AI in the administration of WIPO, particularly in areas such as translation, image search, speech text generation and the development of customer service.

Photo of Francis Gurry and Park Won-joo
Mr. Gurry met with Park Won-joo, Commissioner of KIPO. (Photo: KIPO)

Mr. Park said he looked forward to cooperation with, and support from, WIPO in the process of expanding the application of artificial intelligence, and expressed a willingness for KIPO to participate in the September 27, 2019, “WIPO Conversation on Intellectual Property and Artificial Intelligence.” Both agreed to expand cooperation between WIPO and KIPO for the improvement of the IP system in response to economic and technological shifts.

New Joint Master’s Degree Program

Mr. Gurry, Mr. Park of KIPO and two other parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a new Master’s Degree in IP and Development Policy. The new program is to be centered at Korea Development Institute School of Public Policy and Management (KDIS), whose President, Choi Jeong Pyo, was a signatory. Also signing was Lee Choon-hee, Mayor of Sejong Special Self-governing City Government, where the school is located.

The new program is scheduled for launch at the end of January 2020, said Mr. Jeong, while Mr. Lee said his city was to provide internships for international students. Mr. Gurry thanked all the signatories on behalf of WIPO for their generosity and said he anticipated the program’s great success.

Photo of Francis Gurry and Park Won-joo
Signing of the Memorandum of Understanding to establish a new Master’s Degree in IP and Development Policy. From left to right: Lee Choon-hee, Mayor of Sejong Special Self-governing City Government; Park Won-joo, Commissioner of Korean Intellectual Property Office; Mr. Gurry; Choi Jeong Pyo, President of Korea Development Institute School of Public Policy and Management (KDIS)

On IP and openness

Closing his trip on Friday, June 14, Mr. Gurry spoke at the International IP and Industrial Security Conference, which carried the theme “The Age of New Protectionism and the Future of Intellectual Property.”

Following several decades of increasing openness, recent years have shown signs of closure, Mr. Gurry said, pointing to a series of actions taken in a range of countries. "This is quite widespread ... it’s an international phenomenon, it is not confined to bilateral tension," he said.

However, he noted, science, technology and innovation have tended over time to flourish in more-open environments, indicating as an example the high proportion of foreign persons listed as inventors on international patent applications via WIPO’s PCT that originate in Silicon Valley.

Photo of Francis Gurry speaking at the International IP and Industrial Security Conference
(Photo: KIPO)

The new competitive reality of intellectual property is that we have much evidence, historically, favoring openness for science, technology and innovation. But a lot of current evidence indicating increasing closure around technology. So that’s a dilemma – a big policy dilemma for all of us.

Director General, Francis Gurry