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

Judges from 74 Countries Attend Second Annual WIPO Intellectual Property Judges Forum

November 14, 2019

By Esther Pak, WIPO News and Media Division

The speed of technological change is outpacing legislatures’ ability to create appropriate rules to minimize commercial tensions, thrusting courts that adjudicate intellectual property (IP)-related disputes into an increasingly important role, WIPO Director General Francis Gurry told participants at WIPO’s Intellectual Property Judges Forum.

(Photo: WIPO/Berrod)

One hundred and twenty eight judges from 74 countries gathered at WIPO headquarters in Geneva for the second annual Intellectual Property Judges Forum, which provides a global platform for judges to share expertise on the most pressing IP questions raised by accelerating innovation and the cross-border use of IP.

In addressing the judges, Mr. Gurry said that technological change was happening at such a rapid pace that rule-making deliberative bodies, like national legislatures, were struggling to keep up.

“We're all struggling with the speed of technological change, whether it is parliaments trying to come to terms with what is happening in the economy or whether it's the judiciary confronted with new questions because there is no satisfactory policy answer at the moment. We're all dealing with, I think, the same problem in different ways,” said Mr. Gurry.

“We will face this policy challenge... And this inevitably will end up before you for some decision,” he said.

WIPO Legal Counsel Frits Bontekoe presented two new initiatives responding to judges’ requests for facilitation by WIPO of access to judicial decisions from other jurisdictions:

  • expansion of the free on-line WIPO Lex database to include judicial decisions on IP, and;
  • a new published series containing landmark IP judgments that illustrates judicial approaches to IP.  The first volume entitled, “WIPO Collection of Leading Judgments on Intellectual Property,” and published in collaboration with the Supreme People’s Court of China, was launched at the Forum.

About the Forum

The Forum, held annually, seeks to address this challenge: National judiciaries are often tasked with resolving novel IP questions presented by technological and societal changes that move faster than the evolution of legislation and public policy. How do judges confront these challenges? How do they assess highly technical and economically sensitive subject matter or capture the globalized and digitized realities of IP exploitation? How do they adapt court administration structures to handle the increases in the volume and cost of IP litigation?

Panel discussion topics during the November 13-15, 2019 meeting included emerging issues in copyright, trademark and designs, and issues arising in the adjudication of cross-border IP disputes.

The Forum, organized by the WIPO Judicial Institute, is part of WIPO’s efforts in the area of the judicial administration of IP to engage judges from around the world as they share experiences on the common challenges they face and discuss new subject matters and concepts as they arise.