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

WIPO Launches Global Program to Help Boost Access to Patent System for Inventors with Limited Means

Geneva, October 17, 2016

The World Intellectual Property Organization has launched a first-of-its kind global program in which patent attorneys provide pro bono help to inventors in developing countries who want to file a patent for their invention but lack the means to do so.

WIPO, in cooperation with the World Economic Forum, officially unveiled the Inventor Assistance Program on October 17, 2016 in Geneva, following a successful pilot effort in Colombia, the Philippines and Morocco.

The program aims to help inventors and small enterprises with limited finances to pursue the patent protection that is key to successful commercialization of a product or new solution. Qualified attorneys help by providing free legal advice to inventors who would otherwise be unable to afford the legal costs of obtaining a patent. Research shows many patent applications are rejected on procedural issues that IP lawyers can help avoid.

“The Inventor Assistance Program is a pioneering effort to aid inventors who may lack the resources or knowledge to access the intellectual property system that plays such an important part in boosting innovation across the globe,” said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. “WIPO is dedicated to ensuring that everyone can benefit from intellectual property, in developed and developing countries alike. This new program is helping and I hope it expands rapidly.”

The Inventor Assistance Program has already helped a dozen inventors in Colombia, Morocco and the Philippines to file patent applications for the new technologies they have invented.  These include a wheel-mounted device that helps vehicles gain traction on slippery ground and a machine that transforms vegetable refuse into animal feed in a novel manner. The lawyers participating in the program have, without payment, helped the inventors draft and file patent applications and follow up with patent offices afterward.

“Ensuring that as many people as possible have the opportunity to turn great ideas into economic assets is an important part of creating societies that are both inclusive and prosperous. The IAP is an innovative way of opening up access to global legal infrastructure to inventors who can create value not just for themselves, but also their countries and the world," said Richard Samans, Managing Director and Member of the Managing Board, World Economic Forum.

In order to join Inventor Assistance Program, participating countries, lawyers and inventors must meet a set of criteria that is designed to ensure the best fit for all involved, while establishing a mechanism to deter any potential conflicts of interest.

The pilot program was launched between April 2015 and March 2016 in the three pilot countries after research showing that many patent applications were being rejected on procedural issues stemming from applicants’ unfamiliarity with the filing process and lacking the resources to engage counsel.

Ultimately, the Inventor Assistance Program seeks to stimulate an innovative environment where all inventors are able to commercialize their products, bringing economic benefits to them, their families and communities, while ultimately boosting the pool of fee-paying clients for lawyers who helped launch this cycle by foregoing payment.

Leading international law firms, corporations as well as international associations support the Inventor Assistance Program, including the Inter-American Association of Intellectual Property (ASIPI), the International Federation of Inventors’ Associations (IFIA), Novartis, Qualcomm, the European Patent Institute and the Federal Circuit Bar Association.

The World Economic Forum, the international organization for public-private cooperation, is committed to providing global society with a collaborative platform to harness the technological, political, social and economic  shifts of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Through the Forum’s Knowledge Network, the Forum helped to build the foundations for a robust global legal structure for intellectual property, with the aim of helping foster inclusive growth through technological innovation. It strongly supports the Inventor Assistance Program as a means of continuing these efforts.

About WIPO

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is the global forum for intellectual property policy, services, information and cooperation. A specialized agency of the United Nations, WIPO assists its 193 member states in developing a balanced international IP legal framework to meet society's evolving needs. It provides business services for obtaining IP rights in multiple countries and resolving disputes. It delivers capacity-building programs to help developing countries benefit from using IP. And it provides free access to unique knowledge banks of IP information.

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