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Director General Welcomes Advances in Normative Agenda, Outlines Future Challenges

Geneva, September 26, 2011

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry said today that the international intellectual property (IP) community faces three major challenges in the coming years – management of demand of IP applications, the migration of all cultural content to the Internet, and enhancing the capacity of least developed and developing countries to use the IP system for encouraging innovation and creativity. Mr. Gurry said that deep engagement and commitment would be required to address these challenges successfully. Mr. Gurry also welcomed progress in WIPO’s normative agenda, attributing this to closer collaboration and understanding among WIPO’s member states. 

“The atmosphere amongst Member States has greatly improved,” Mr. Gurry said at the opening of the annual Assemblies of the Member States of WIPO. “Delegations are very constructively engaged in looking for solutions. I would like to thank all Member States for the extraordinary engagement that has made this possible.” 

Speaking at the opening of the Assemblies, which elected as Chairperson of the General Assembly Serbia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Ambassador Uglješa Zvekić, the Director General mentioned, in particular, the breakthrough in negotiations relating to audiovisual performances, a major advance towards agreement on the content of an international instrument for improving access to published works on the part of the print-impaired and a new work plan for the protection of broadcasting organizations.  

 “Great progress” has also been made in the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC), Mr. Gurry observed, noting that “Texts have been prepared and have been actively negotiated. The terms of the renewal of the mandate of the IGC for the next biennium were agreed by the IGC and are before the Assemblies for approval.”  

Other areas where progress has been made, he said, include the work on designs in the Standing Committee on the Law of Trademarks, the adoption of a substantive work program by the Standing Committee on the Law of Patents for the first time in a number of years and the proposed revision of the Lisbon Agreement on the International Registration of Appellations of Origin. 

Mr. Gurry also addressed the Organization’s financial situation, noting that demand for WIPO services - the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), the Madrid System for marks, the Hague System for designs and the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center - has returned in 2011 to pre-crisis levels and started to advance beyond them. He noted, however, that revenue has not increased by a commensurate amount due to the sharp appreciation of the Swiss franc, an impact that will be corrected as the adjustment mechanism foreseen for currency fluctuations takes effect towards the end of this year. 

Mr. Gurry said the Organization has maintained its forecast of an increase in revenue of 4.7%. By way of caution, it is proposed nevertheless to lower expenditure to the level of a 3% increase only and to continue to closely monitor the data and adjust accordingly. He welcomed the constructive dialogue with member states on this question and looked forward to adoption by the Assemblies of the draft Program and Budget for the next biennium (2012/13) on these terms. 

On the question of increased demand for IP rights around the world, Mr. Gurry said the answer will involve “action on many fronts, including more efficient use of WIPO’s Global IP Systems, some legislative action, work sharing arrangements and improved technical infrastructure. To develop the answer, the international community is going to need an advanced capacity to agree.”

Similarly, Mr. Gurry said the solution to the challenges facing copyright “is likely to be a complex one, involving law, infrastructure to enable global licensing and digital markets, cultural change, institutional collaboration and better business models. Like demand management again, there is a sense of urgency and the solution will require a deep engagement and commitment to find agreement.” 

The Director General reaffirmed WIPO’s commitment to enhancing the capacity of the least developed and developing countries to participate in and use the IP system for encouraging innovation and cultural creativity. He noted that the Organization has progressed in improving the delivery of capacity-building services by introducing strategic planning and having all the services of the Organization address the capacity of developing countries in their delivery. This has been supplemented by the development of a number of databases, platforms and services that increase the opportunity for developing countries to use the knowledge and information generated by the IP system as well as office automation and modernization projects in over 50 countries, with 40 more countries awaiting such projects.  

While substantial progress has been made in this area, Mr. Gurry said “we are aware that there is room for more improvement and we look forward to working with the Member States to effect that improvement.” 

The Director General concluded by paying tribute to the staff of the Organization “for their dedication, hard work and professionalism throughout the past year. I believe that we have achieved a great deal…This has been their achievement.” 

In addition to his statement, the Director General presented a detailed written report to the Assemblies, on the main achievements of the Organization over the last year. The Assemblies are meeting from September 26, 2011 through October 5, 2011.

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