International Conference to Probe Interface between IP and Public Policy

Geneva, June 23, 2009
MA/2009/48

Intellectual property and how it relates to public policy issues, such as health, the environment and food security, will be the focus of discussions at an international conference organized by WIPO on July 13 and 14, 2009 in Geneva. 

The Conference on Intellectual Property and Public Policy Issues will explore the specific contribution that intellectual property can make in addressing these global challenges and in meeting certain public policy objectives. The conference will be preceded by a high-level discussion on the role of intellectual property in meeting the needs of the visually impaired on July 13, 2009 at 9.00am.

 David Lammy, Britain’s Minister of State for Intellectual Property in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, is a keynote speaker at the Conference. A number of other high level officials are expected to join heads of key international organizations, including Margaret Chan (World Health Organization), Michel Jarraud (World Meteorological Organization), Pascal Lamy (World Trade Organization), and Kanayo F. Nwanze (International Fund for Agricultural Development ) in addressing these issues.

The inter-disciplinary nature of the Conference reflects the complexity of the shared challenges that the international community is facing, including climate change, epidemics, access to health care, food security and the preservation of biodiversity.  The availability of applicable technologies is key to an effective global response to many of these challenges. Policies designed to stimulate the creation and diffusion of technology are therefore directly relevant to the ways in which the global community responds to these problems. 

The intellectual property system offers not only a proven means of encouraging investment in clean technologies which are required to address the threats associated with climate change, but also a range of options to identify, transfer and disseminate those technologies.  The Conference will serve as a platform for participants to exchange views on these issues with a view to improving understanding by all stakeholders of how intellectual property can contribute to development and technology transfer.

The event is taking place within the context of WIPO’s renewed efforts to work with all interested parties in ensuring that the intellectual property system – increasingly a factor in debate over public policy issues – continues to strike an appropriate balance between the interests of innovators and creators and those of the general public. 

The meeting which precedes the Conference will examine the needs of visually impaired persons as they relate to intellectual property, particularly in terms of how to improve timely access to copyright-protected content. At a time when the sighted are enjoying unprecedented ease of access to copyright-protected content, a combination of social, economic, technological and legal factors, including the operation of copyright protection systems, are converging to impede access to books, newspapers, magazines or other published works by the blind or other print-disabled persons.

A performance by Nigerian musician and songwriter Cobhams Emmanuel Asuquo, who was born blind, will be held on the evening of July 13 in the lobby of the main WIPO building. 

The meeting is open to the public. Anyone interested in participating in the event is requested to complete the on-line registration form.  

Journalists wishing to attend this event are requested to complete the on-line accreditation procedure.

For further information, please contact the Media Relations Section at WIPO:
  • Tel: (+41 22) 338 81 61 / 338 72 24
  • Fax: (+41 22) 338 81 40
  • E-mail