WIPO Director General Opens International Conference on Design

Geneva, May 13, 2004
Press Releases PR/2004/384

The Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Dr. Kamil Idris, on Thursday, May 13, 2004, opened an international conference on design at which keynote speakers underlined the importance of design protection for businesses in securing a competitive edge in an increasingly globalized marketplace. Keynote speakers at the conference, jointly organized by WIPO, the Ministry of Productive Activities of Italy and the City of Venice, under the patronage of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy, included Dr. Idris, Italy's Minister of Productive Activities, Mr. Antonio Marzano, Mayor of Venice, Mr. Paolo Costa, Italy's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Mr. Paolo Bruni, and the President of the Venice International Committee, Mr. Paolo Baratta.

Speakers at the WIPO-Italy International Conference on Design agreed that increasingly creators and entrepreneurs are resorting to ingenious design to acquire a competitive edge and add value to their creations. They also warned against the dangers of piracy and counterfeiting.

It was noted that Venice is a particularly appropriate venue for the conference, not only because Italy is a leader in design but because this year marks the 530th anniversary of the enactment of the first patent law by the Republic of Venice. Venice was the first country in Europe to adopt its patent law on March 19, 1474.

Dr. Idris thanked the Italian government for hosting the conference, which he said was timely and significant. He emphasized the importance of intellectual property to development and echoed remarks made by other speakers about the importance of design to business development.

Minister Marzano emphasized that enterpreneurs are having to increasingly focus on the quality and aesthetic appeal of a product, in addition to price to remain competitive. He said the demands of the market and increasingly sophisticated consumer needs and tastes means that more attention has to be paid to design. This is why, he said, this international conference is exceptionally timely.

The Minister said his government is fully committed to raising awareness of intellectual property and its critical importance in promoting economic and social development as well wealth creation. Particular attention, he said, is being given to the small and medium enterprises sector, which makes up the bulk of Italian industry.

Mr. Marzano warned against the dangers of piracy and counterfeiting to national economies. He said this was a flaw that required international attention and coordination. The Minister concluded by stating that "Innovation is the future. Counterfeiting is to the detriment of this future." Dr. Idris supported Mr. Marzano's statement and added that in addition to the detrimental effects on economies, piracy and counterfeiting threatened the cultural heritage of a nation.

Ambassador Bruni and Mayor Costa added that the Conference is also timely as it is the first high level international event on designs since the entry into operations of the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement concerning the international registration of industrial designs, which facilitates the process of seeking protection for industrial designs in multiple countries. The Geneva Act, which became operational on April 1, 2004, introduces a number of important changes that enhance the existing system by making it more compatible with the registration system in countries such as the United States and Japan where protection of industrial designs is contingent on examination to determine the acceptability of an application.

Mr. Costa said the city of Venice is willing to play an even bigger role in promoting a culture of intellectual property. While applauding WIPO's leadership role in promoting intellectual property as a tool for economic and social development, he said Venice had a key role to play in building a global culture of intellectual property. "Venice will always be an active agent in the promotion of the intellectual property culture and the work of WIPO will always find in our city and institutions solid partners," he added

The Mayor also underlined the importance of design in embellishing daily lives. "Through design, art enters everybody's houses." He further elaborated on the importance of creativity in the economic cycle. "In a global economy creativity will become the true and real value added to design, the spur to growth itself. The more our economy will rely on creativity, the more innovative and competitive it will become."

The Mayor said, "promoting a culture of intellectual property also means to consistently lead businesses in the furrow of technological development, supporting the growth of the economic system and its innovation. The relation and the entwinement of research, university and business is the keystone of all future entrepreneurial development of our economy."

The two-day conference in Venice will provide a forum for exchanging views on the strategic importance of the international protection of designs to design-related businesses. It will also identify ways to more effectively use the WIPO-administered Hague system for the International Protection of Industrial Designs. A program is available at https://www.wipo.int/meetings/2004/venice/en/index.html.

On Wednesday, Dr. Idris received the first "Venice Award for Intellectual Property", in recognition of his global leadership and efforts to enhance international respect for intellectual property. The award was presented to Dr. Idris by the Mayor of Venice, Mr. Paolo Costa, at a ceremony hosted in the Palazzo Ducale, which was attended by senior intellectual property and government officials.

For further information, please contact the Media Relations and Public Affairs Section at WIPO:

  • Tel: (+41 22) - 338 81 61 or 338 95 47
  • Fax: (+41 22) - 338 88 10
  • Email: publicinf@wipo.int.