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WIPO DG calls for action on new tech

September 24, 2018

By Colin Mann

Rapid technological change is driving demand for intellectual property rights and growth in the global intellectual property (IP) systems of World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) – the global forum for intellectual property policy, services, information and cooperation – while IP is increasingly important in policy making and international trade, according to comments made by WIPO Director General Francis Gurry during his opening address at the 2018 WIPO Assemblies.

“Intellectual property continues to grow in economic and social importance around the world. This increased prominence is being driven by rapid, profound and pervasive technological change, which is shaping the future of the economy and placing increasing value on knowledge in its economic and commercial expression as intangible assets,” said Gurry.

This, he noted, has resulted in increased demand for IP rights and the centrality of IP to innovation. “We see this change in the position of IP unfolding in many ways – in demand for IP rights, in attention to IP as a part of innovation and industrial strategy by both governments and enterprises, in trade discussions and in news and analysis within the media and the general public.”

Gurry underlined the profound changes in the innovation scene, evidenced by increasing use of WIPO’s global IP services: “There are numerous explanations for these huge increases, the most prominent being the domination of the economy by technology, the global nature of economic activity and the emergence of new actors through geopolitical change, which has resulted in innovation being more multipolar in nature.” He also noted that Asia is now the dominant source of all IP applications filed worldwide, accounting, on average across the various IP rights, for over 60 per cent of them.

Gurry addressed the various challenges facing WIPO and indeed all international organisations in the field of rule-making. In this respect, he called for increased knowledge sharing on how IP systems can accommodate fast-developing technologies, like artificial intelligence (AI). “We could all benefit from sharing knowledge, views and perspectives on these issues so as to advance our common understanding,” he said. “It is less about providing answers and more about attempting to pose the right questions.”

While acknowledging the complex challenges of rule-making at the international level, he called on delegates to work toward resolution of a series of substantive issues contained in the agenda, including a proposed design law treaty and a path towards a possible Diplomatic Conference on broadcasting. He also referred to a few outstanding institutional issues, such as the composition of certain WIPO committees and the question of external offices.

“It would be a wonderful achievement and a positive signal for multilateralism if the Member States were able to end the Assemblies having resolved at least one, if not several, of these outstanding questions.”

The WIPO Assemblies are meeting from September 24th to October 2nd, 2018. The General Assembly is chaired by Ambassador Duong Chi Dung, Viet Nam’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva.

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