WIPO Director General Wraps up Official Visit to India Topped by Meeting with Prime Minister

Geneva, November 13, 2009

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry wrapped up a five day official visit to New Delhi on November 13, 2009 in which he held a series of high level meetings, including with the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh - that addressed a range of issues of specific interest to India and areas of joint cooperation with WIPO.

The role of balanced national intellectual property (IP) systems in promoting development and growth and in addressing key public policy challenges, such as the environment and public health, was a common theme of these discussions. An agreement to strengthen cooperation between India and WIPO was also signed during the visit.

Mr. Gurry welcomed efforts by the Government of India to promote innovation and creativity in the country through strategic use of the IP system. He underlined the role of IP in driving innovation, creativity and transfer of technology, and emphasized the need to ensure that the IP system produces social and economic benefit.

Talks were held with: Minister for Industry and Commerce, Mr. Anand Sharma, Minister of Human Resource Development, Mr. Kapil Sibal, Minister of State for Science and Technology, Mr. Prithvi Raj Chavan, Minister of State for Environment and Forests, Mr. Jairam Ramesh, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Mr. Jyotiraditya Scindia, Minister of State for External Affairs, Mr. Shashi Tharoor, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Mr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Secretary, Department of Industry and Commerce, Mr. Ajay Shankar, Secretary, Information and Broadcasting, Mr. Raghu Menon, and Secretary, Ministry of State for Environment and Forests, Mr. Vijai Sharma

Discussions covered international treaty talks under WIPO auspices relating to the protection of broadcasting organizations and to the rights of performers in their audiovisual performances. Officials noted India’s continued interest in these issues and committed to actively participate in the negotiations. Emphasis was also made on the structural problems facing copyright in the digital environment, with Mr. Gurry noting the need for global reflection on the question of financing culture in the 21st century.

The role that IP can play in mitigating the consequences of climate change was also discussed.  Mr. Gurry said WIPO is committed to building broader understanding of the important contribution that IP can make in generating and disseminating technological solutions to address the multi-faceted challenges that climate change presents. He said that policies that stimulate the creation and diffusion of technology are directly relevant to an effective response to the challenges of climate change.

Officials noted that questions relating to climate change are at the forefront of India’s policy concerns and that New Delhi is committed to finding global solutions to meet these challenges. Mr. Gurry noted that WIPO had a positive contribution to make in relation to technology mapping and landscaping to identify existing technologies and their legal status, as well as in the area of capacity building.

A recurring theme was the importance of advancing international discussions on the protection of traditional knowledge (TK), genetic resources (GRs) and folklore. Mr. Gurry observed that there is a real opportunity to achieve tangible results in this area with the renewed mandate of the WIPO’s Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC). Officials stressed that this question is very important for India and developing countries in general.

Mr. Gurry said India is a pioneer in dealing with questions relating to TK, noting its impressive, and publicly available, Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL), which contains a vast encyclopedic database of thousands of formulations in patent search compatible formats in various languages. Officials said India is ready to share its extensive experience in developing its TKDL and to strengthen cooperation in developing and populating other databases.

Talks also covered India’s possible accession to the Madrid system for the international registration of trademarks.  A proposal is currently under consideration by the Indian Parliament and a decision is expected in early December.  Mr. Gurry said this would be “a major event and would signal a new phase in the Madrid system.”  

On November 13, 2009, Mr. Gurry and Mr. Shankar signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) which commits to strengthening bilateral cooperation “through a more intense, active and systematic organization and conduct of joint activities that will promote the goal of using IP for economic, social, cultural and technological development in India.” 

WIPO and India will cooperate more closely in a variety of fields, ranging from the formulation and implementation of a national IP strategy that is aligned with India’s national development priorities, to raising awareness of IP as a critical tool for promoting innovation and creativity.  Cooperation will be tightened with respect to technology transfer to address global challenges such as health, food security, climate change and the environment, as well as IP issues regarding TK, GRs and folklore and building respect for IP. 

The MOU also calls for cooperation in the strategic use of trademarks, geographical indications and industrial designs for promoting enterprise competitiveness and market access, as well as use of the copyright system to promote creativity, particularly in the digital environment, and strategic management and use of IP by companies, particularly SMEs. 

IP training and research will be reinforced under the MOU through stronger cooperation between  the WIPO Worldwide Academy (WWA) and the National Institute for Intellectual Property Management (NIIPM) of India . WIPO will also support India’s IP authorities in modernizing their infrastructures and will support greater use of WIPO’s global protection systems which facilitate the process of obtaining IP rights in multiple countries, (e.g. the Patent Cooperation Treaty and the Madrid System for the International Registration of Trademarks). Both sides also committed to exchanging patent and trademark data (national, PCT, and Madrid) for inclusion in their respective databases.

Mr. Gurry also visited the Intellectual Property Office of India and met with its staff, including the Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trade Marks, Mr. P.H.Kurian. The Director General underlined the importance of the Office’s function in light of the increasing use of IP rights by Indian enterprises.   

A roundtable organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) brought together some 50 enterprise leaders, from various sectors for a discussion on WIPO’s activities. The Director General outlined recent developments at WIPO as well as future priorities and their relevance for Indian enterprises. A separate roundtable was organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce (FICCI) with representatives of the entertainment sector.

Mr. Gurry this week also participated in the following events: 5th International Forum on Creativity and Inventions - A Better Future for Humanity in the 21st Century, a meeting with India’s community of visually impaired persons (VIP), and the International Conference on Traditional Knowledge. 

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