UN intellectual property organization offers courses from next week

24 February 2005 –

With disputes over rights to inventions, discoveries and traditional knowledge sometimes leading to expensive lawsuits, the United Nations World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) prepares to accept new students next week for its online courses.

The introductory general course on intellectual property issues is offered free of charge in seven languages from some 80 teachers and tutors and is a pre-requisite to any other WIPO Academy course, it said.

The general course includes such areas as copyright, patents, trademarks, geographical indications, industrial design, plant breeders' rights, unfair competition and international registration systems. Some 38,000 people from over 180 countries have taken it since the Academy was founded in 1998.

The Academy will also offer advanced courses in copyright, patents and trademarks, starting in May.

Later in the year, the WIPO Academy will launch, for a range of fees, first-time courses on the intellectual property aspects of traditional knowledge, biotechnology and the “international protection of plant varieties.”

Meanwhile, WIPO’s Arbitration and Mediation Centre received 1,179 cases claiming “cyber-squatting,” or abusive registration of trademarks as domain names, last year, a 6.6 per cent increase over 2003, it said.

WIPO Deputy Director Francis Gurry, who oversees the Centre, said over 80 per cent of the decisions had been decided in favour of the trademark-holder and had created a deterrent effect against cyber-squatting.

Among those who used the Centre’s services were Madonna, Julia Roberts, Eminem, Pamela Anderson, JK Rowling and Michael Crichton, WIPO said.

Cases have come in from both developed and developing countries to its 400 independent panellists from 50 countries, it said.

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