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

WIPO Holds First-Ever Annual IP Judges Forum

November 7, 2018

By Edward Harris, Communications Division, WIPO

A cross-border exchange of information and expertise among judges is extremely useful in an era of fast-moving, increasingly globalized technological development, participants at WIPO’s inaugural IP Judges Forum heard from WIPO Director General Francis Gurry and other speakers.

More than 100 judges from 64 countries gathered at WIPO’s headquarters in Geneva for the first-ever Intellectual Property Judges Forum, which aims to provide a platform for judges to share expertise on the most pressing intellectual property (IP) challenges raised by accelerating innovation and the cross-border use of IP.

Panelists discuss the judicial role in developing IP law and the value of transnational dialogue (Photo: WIPO/Berrod). More photos on Flickr.

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.

“The consequence is that the judiciary is on the front line. You are on the front line for questions which have not received a legislative policy response, but which are arising in the course of competition between enterprises,” he said.

“This, we feel, is a major reason for engaging the judiciary and providing a forum for the judiciary, on their own terms, to talk to each other about these questions that will be arising more and more frequently in the future.”

Video: Director General Francis Gurry summarizes the Forum.

About the Forum

The Forum, which will be held each year, 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 discussions topics during the November 6-9, 2018 meeting included emerging issues in patents, trademarks and copyright, remedies for online IP infringement, and the judicial role in assessing public interest considerations in IP.

The Forum is part of WIPO’s new focus on 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.

Tao Kaiyun, Justice, Vice President, the Supreme
People's Court of the People's Republic of China
(Photo: WIPO/Berrod)

“The fourth industrial revolution led by new technologies such as big data, block chain, artificial intelligence and gene editing is having unprecedented impact on the creation, dissemination and utilization of knowledge and creating many new issues for the judicial protection of intellectual property rights," said Tao Kaiyun, Justice, Vice President, the Supreme People's Court of the People's Republic of China, in a keynote address. 

“We regard international perspectives and a world vision as important driving forces for the development of intellectual property rights (IPR) adjudication,” Justice Tao told the judges in attendance. “The World Intellectual Property Organization is the most authoritative and influential international organization in the global intellectual property field.”

"Innovation is occurring at an accelerating speed, which is producing a number of challenges for institutional and governance frameworks throughout the world. Amongst them is the challenge confronting the judiciary of dealing with IP cases that throw up novel questions as a consequence of technological changes that may not have been considered or dealt with by legislatures," said Mr. Gurry in announcing the shift during the 2017 WIPO Assemblies.

Voices from the Forum

Annabelle Bennett, Former Judge, Federal Court of Australia, Sydney, Australia

Colin Birss, Justice, High Court of England and Wales, London, United Kingdom

Maria Rowena Modesto-San Pedro, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Manila, Philippines

Manmohan Singh Chairman, Intellectual Property Appellate Board, New Delhi; Former Judge, High Court of Delhi, India

Jeremy Fogel, Executive Director, Berkeley Judicial Institute; Former Director, Federal Judicial Center, United States of America

Nassib Elia, President, Court of Appeal of Beirut, Lebanon

George R. Locke, Judge, Federal Court of Canada, Ottawa, Canada

Irene Charity Larbi, Justice, Court of Appeal Accra, Ghana

Marie-Françoise Marais, Former Judge, Cour de Cassation, Paris, France

Max Lambert Ndéma Elongué, President, Tribunal of First Instance, Yaoundé Ekounou, Cameroon

Mohamed Mahmoud Al Kamali, Director General, Institute of Training and Judicial Studies, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Patricia Ivonne Inglés Aquino, Appellate Judge, Civil and Commercial Courts of San Salvador, El Salvador