Building respect for intellectual property – stimulating innovation and creativity

November 2016

By Francis Gurry, Director General, WIPO

The International Conference on Building Respect for Intellectual Property – Stimulating Innovation and Creativity, co-organized by the Shanghai Municipal People’s Government (SMPG) and WIPO with the support of the State Intellectual Property Office of China (SIPO), will take place from November 17 to 18, 2016, in Shanghai, People’s Republic of China. It offers an exciting opportunity to exchange information and experiences on enhancing public awareness about the importance of respecting intellectual property (IP), and on emerging issues in IP adjudication and jurisprudence.

In the global knowledge economy, innovation, creativity and IP hold far-reaching promise for spurring economic growth, trade and employment in countries at all stages of development. And amid indications that global economic growth is slowing, it is now more important than ever to find new ways to stimulate the world economy by leveraging the opportunities that are presented by global innovation and creativity. 

"The International Conference on Building Respect for
Intellectual Property – Stimulating Innovation and Creativity
is an opportunity… to explore ways to build greater respect
for IP and to leverage opportunities for innovation and
creativity to drive economic growth," says WIPO Director
General Francis Gurry (above). (Photo Credit: WIPO)

Today, the intellectual component of production is far greater than it has ever been. IP has become an indispensable mechanism for translating know-how into tradeable commercial assets and capturing the competitive advantage that they represent. The vast technological transformation that is currently underway in China is testimony to this ongoing transition toward a global knowledge economy. In 2016, China for the first time joined the ranks of the world’s 25 most innovative economies in the Global Innovation Index, co-published by Cornell University, INSEAD and WIPO. China has become a world-leader in technological innovation, particularly in the area of emerging technologies such as digital communication, computing technology, 3D printing, nanotechnology and robotics, positioning it as a global technology innovation center. For these reasons, this conference in Shanghai is very timely.

The role of IP and its promise

IP plays a pivotal role at the center of the innovation–growth nexus. It promotes innovation by incentivizing investment in knowledge-based assets and encouraging the diffusion of knowledge across the economy. IP rights establish a secure legal framework for investment in and commercialization of innovation and creativity. These rights enable firms, including innovative start-ups, to navigate the perilous process of transforming an idea into a commercially viable product, and to compete with success in the global marketplace, while safeguarding the public interest. IP facilitates the diffusion of knowledge by encouraging the disclosure of information and technology transfer. It also provides a framework for innovators to control how and under what conditions their innovations and creations may be used by others. As such, IP is a key factor in creating an environment in which innovation and creativity can flourish and generate future growth and prosperity.

Realizing the promise of IP, innovation and growth is not without its challenges. Much remains to be learned about the complex interactions that occur between these three elements across the diverse range of technologies that exist and are emerging today. But the benefits of achieving sustained growth are well-known; they include job creation, higher living standards and the alleviation of poverty. 

To fully grasp these benefits, each nation must find the right mix of policies that balance IP protection with the public interest to realize the innovative and creative potential of its economy. Policymakers must also take into account the economic, social and cultural impacts that flow from their innovation policy decisions. This is an increasingly difficult task, in part because of the rapid rate at which technological breakthroughs are transforming innovation and creative landscapes. Globalization – and with it the digital transformation – present enormous opportunities and challenges. Policymakers must adopt flexible approaches that maximize the opportunities that technological breakthroughs offer while overcoming the challenges that they pose.

Building respect for IP

Fostering an environment that encourages respect for IP is a basic principle shared by all WIPO member states. Yet its full realization remains elusive. IP-infringing activities – most notably counterfeiting and piracy – are prevalent in many parts of the world. Devising appropriate responses requires a solid understanding of what motivates producers and consumers of IP-infringing goods and the impact that these IP infringements are having on the welfare of societies. Only then will it be possible for countries to craft and implement a broad range of curative and preventive measures in line with their national strategic needs. Ideally, such measures will target improvements in legislation and enforcement and will boost cultural change and awareness of the value of IP, the development of business and technology solutions that foster legal alternatives, and institutional collaboration.

Exploring opportunities and challenges

The Shanghai Conference will explore the enormous benefits and opportunities that technological breakthroughs offer as well as the challenges that still need to be overcome. The Conference program offers an exciting and diverse range of speakers and topics. Discussions will focus on two main themes:

  • realizing the promise of IP in stimulating innovation and driving development and growth; and
  • IP protection and adjudication in an evolving landscape.

Six subtopics will also be discussed:

  • developing and implementing comprehensive, coherent and well-coordinated national IP strategies;
  • innovation, technology transfer and the commercialization of IP;
  • international cooperation on building respect for IP;
  • IP enforcement mechanisms;
  • how to resolve IP disputes in an effective and balanced way; and
  • emerging issues in IP adjudication and jurisprudence.

The International Conference on Building Respect for Intellectual Property – Stimulating Innovation and Creativity is an opportunity for policy- and thought-leaders in government and business as well as legal practitioners to explore ways to build greater respect for IP and to leverage opportunities for innovation and creativity to drive economic growth.

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.