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

World Intellectual Property Day – April 26

June 2009

“The power of human ingenuity is our best hope for restoring the delicate balance between ourselves and our environment. It is our greatest asset in finding solutions to this global challenge, enabling us to move forward from the carbon-based, grey technologies of the past to the carbon-neutral, green innovation of the future.” – WIPO Director General Francis Gurry, message for World Intellectual Property Day

“Green Innovation,” the theme of this year’s World Intellectual Property (IP) Day hit a mark with IP stakeholders and engaged a broader public. The message from WIPO Director General Francis Gurry, “human ingenuity is our best hope” struck a positive note in audiences downhearted by gloomy economic forecasts and worried about environmental problems.

Following the announcement of the “Green Innovation” theme for IP Day, Mr. Gurry also announced, in February, the establishment of the WIPO Carbon Neutrality Project (see box). April marked the beginning of concrete work on the project.

The WIPO Magazine Green Innovation Special Issue reinforced the IP Day message with articles that highlighted the links between innovation and with the IP system. The Special Issue proved very popular, going into reprint weeks after its first release, and bringing in more letters and feedback than any other issue. The idea of making the IP Day materials available for download, in the spirit of the Day’s green theme, was also well-received.

Never has there been such an outflow of creativity in the posters from Member States and observers for the World IP Day web gallery. WIPO had received activity reports from some 60 countries and organizations when this issue went to print. This year several countries held multiple events, organized jointly or separately by ministries, industrial property offices, universities, private sector enterprises and other stakeholders. In addition, 12 WIPO awards were presented to inventors, creators and enterprises in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Mongolia, the Russian Federation and the Slovak Republic.

Activity reports

Universidad de Guadalajara, Mexico; MAWHIBA, Saudi Arabia; U.K. Intellectual Property Office; Asociación Argentina de Intérpretes; State Patent Office, Uzbekistan; Universidad Ricardo Palma, Peru


Both the Algerian and Moroccan copyright offices organized national seminars. The Algerian seminar dealt with the IP protection of computer programs, and the theme of Morocco’s event was “Copyright and related rights: practices, measures and procedures of protection.”

The "Institut de la Francophonie pour l'Entrepreneuriat" (Francophone Entrepreneurship Institute), based in Mauritius, organized an IP information and green innovation campaign in Benin. The Rand Institute for Policy and Education aligned IP Day celebrations in Kenya with the World Book and Copyright Day to hold a National Innovation Week.

Zambia’s Patents and Companies Registration Office and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services organized a march through Lusaka’s city center with IP stakeholders, accompanied by a live band, to the venue of the World IP Day celebrations where local artists performed.


Asia had the broadest participation with activities in China, Iran (Islamic Republic of), India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Maldives, Myanmar, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Vietnam and Yemen.

The King Abdulaziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity (MAWHIBA) and the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) in Saudi Arabia organized a number of activities, including IP seminars, the design of a webpage, posters and charts to display in schools and shopping malls, a mass dispatch of e-mails and SMSs to promote the event and the publication of various newspaper articles.

Thailand organized the preview of the short film “Challenges in Film Making,” the screening of the animation movie “Kan-Klauy” and a forum on IP and the creative industries.

Turkey focused on the current trends in green innovation, and the competitive advantage and economic benefits it brings to companies. Representatives from prominent universities, businesses and NGOs shared views and experiences in a seminar on green innovation and IP. Yemen’s Trust Intellectual Property Company, under the auspices of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, invited international and national experts and practitioners to an IP Forum.


The event was also very popular in Europe where not only IP offices but private enterprises joined in organizing World IP Day outreach events for staff as well as for their stakeholders. For example, Electricité de France (EDF), a major electrical utility in Europe that uses green technologies to produce clean energy, sensitized its engineers to the need for IP protection and had them participate in a quiz on the theme of IP and renewable energies, such as wind, marine, photovoltaic, geothermal and biomass.

Machiavelli Music International, Italy, a firm involved in the licensing and clearances of musical works, dispatched an electronic musical newsletter containing a selection of works by young creators who represented by the firm.

National Center of Intellectual Property, Belarus, organized meetings for authors, a seminar on collective management and another on patents; held press conferences; launched an IP competition for young people; held a sustainable development exhibition – the list goes on.

The U.K. Intellectual Property Office also included young people in its activities. The Cracking Ideas Competition winners, Eveswell Primary School, were given a VIP trip to the Wallace and Gromit’s World of Cracking Ideas exhibition at the Science Museum in London.

Latin America

Support for World IP Day was strong in Latin America, with reports coming in from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua and Uruguay. Brazil organized an anti-piracy campaign. El Salvador was very active with a full month of activities, throughout April. Radio, press and web announcements were made, promotional materials were widely displayed, seminars organized and an award ceremony held. The Nicaraguan IP Office held an exhibition on its premises, displaying university projects and local products and culture.

Mexico’s UNIVER Zacatecas (University of Vera-Cruz) held a workshop to promote culture and awareness of IP themes amongst young people and the entrepreneurial and scientific communities. A lecture on the “IP Challenges arising from Climate Change” was given at a conference held for small businesses. Guatamala’s Intellectual Property Registry linked up with various partners, including Universidad del Valle, on projects to inform students, researchers and professors on the IP issues that concern them.

Adjusting themes

The World IP Day circular suggested that the theme could be adjusted where necessary, and Jamaica did just so. The theme of its week-long celebrations under the theme “Creativity: Protect! Collect! Respect!”  While Ethiopia celebrated with the theme “IP Asset Development and Exploitation,” holding a two-day workshop on the “Extension of the Ethiopian Fine Coffees Initiative.”

Finland, where World IP Day was declared Finnish Inventors’ Day, chose “Recovery through Innovation,” a topical theme for the current economic situation. Uzbekistan focused on trademarks, with a conference on “Trademarks and their Importance for a Developing Economy” and a competition for organizations to develop their own trademarks.

Get the picture

WIPO Magazine encourages its readers to get a more complete picture by visiting the World IP Day activities. Despite the economic downturn, WIPO Member States and observers have shown great creativity and initiative in the events they organized to reach out to a vast and diverse audience. WIPO welcomes their participation and appreciates their efforts. We look forward to a further broadening of celebrations next year.

By Sylvie Castonguay, WIPO Magazine Editorial Team, Communications Division



Towards a Greener WIPO

WIPO’s engagement in environmental issues took a further step forward when Director General Francis Gurry announced, in February, the establishment of the WIPO Carbon Neutrality Project, with the aim of reducing the Organization’s carbon footprint. Mr. Gurry expressed his personal commitment to the initiative, which has also been positively received by WIPO staff. “As part of the United Nations family, we have a duty to do everything we can to minimize the impact of the Organization’s activities on the environment,” he said.

Ms. Boutillon, who oversees the project, said that the principle aim of the Project is to coordinate and catalyze initiatives that would lead to and generate environmental benefits within the context of an initial five-year strategic plan. She noted, “Climate change and environmental degradation are not someone else’s problem, they are our common problem. We are counting on the active engagement of everyone at WIPO to help us really make a difference in improving the Organization’s environmental credentials.” She added, “This is a long-term undertaking that will require patience and determination, but I am confident that with the goodwill and support of our colleagues we can make a meaningful difference”.

The initiative also offers an opportunity to optimize WIPO’s operations. Encouraging judicious and environmentally-aware use of resources promises to generate a number of savings. Simply switching off lights and computers at the end of the day, for example, can lead to lower energy and utility bills, while reducing the number of photocopies and using recycling bins can lower the Organization’s consumption of paper and other office supplies.

The facts point to an unavoidable need for action. According to the UN Environmental Programme’s publication “Kick the Habit”, while 100 square meters of forest are needed to sequester 3,500 kilograms (kg) of carbon dioxide each year, the average world citizen emits a whopping 4,080 kg of carbon dioxide annually. The same publication explains that we generate millions of tons of carbon dioxide each year by putting our electrical appliances on standby.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon recently said “we will lead by example by moving towards carbon neutrality throughout the UN System,” confirming the commitment of every UN agency, fund and program to this objective. The top UN official said “climate change is as much an opportunity as it is a threat. It is our chance to usher in a new age of green economics and truly sustainable development.”

By Cathy Jewell, WIPO, Media Relations and Public Affairs Section


The WIPO Magazine is intended to help broaden public understanding of intellectual property and of WIPO’s work, and is not an official document of WIPO. The designations employed and the presentation of material throughout this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of WIPO concerning the legal status of any country, territory or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. This publication is not intended to reflect the views of the Member States or the WIPO Secretariat. The mention of specific companies or products of manufacturers does not imply that they are endorsed or recommended by WIPO in preference to others of a similar nature that are not mentioned.