Cyber-age protection of intellectual property focus of UN agency

26 April 2010 – The global intellectual property system must encourage innovation and creativity around the world and ensure that the benefits are accessible to all while protecting the attendant rights, the top United Nations official in the field said today.

“Rapid innovation and its global adoption has transformed our outlook,” UN World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Director General Francis Gurry said in a message marking this year’s World Intellectual Property Day. “We are now linked – physically, intellectually, socially and culturally – in ways that were impossible to imagine.

“We can cross continents in a few hours. From almost anywhere on the planet, we can access information, see and speak to each other, select music, and take and send photographs, using a device small enough to fit in the palm of a hand,” he added. “With the ‘death of distance,’ we are no longer limited by physical location – and the benefits are legion.”

When the Geneva-based agency was established by the WIPO Convention of 1967, the cyber age was not even a cloud on the horizon. The mandate from its Member States entrusted the agency with protecting intellectual property throughout the world through cooperation among States and in collaboration with other international organizations.

Now the landscape has changed fundamentally but the goals remain – for example balancing intellectual potential in previously isolated communities unleashed by the Web and other devices with intellectual property rights.

“Innovative technologies are creating a truly global society,” Mr. Gurry said. “The intellectual property system is part of this linking process. It facilitates the sharing of information – such as the wealth of technological know-how contained in WIPO’s free data banks.

“It provides a framework for trading and disseminating technologies. It offers incentives to innovate and compete. It helps structure the collaboration needed to meet the daunting global challenges, such as climate change and spiralling energy needs, confronting us all.

“WIPO is dedicated to ensuring that the intellectual property system continues to serve its most fundamental purpose of encouraging innovation and creativity; and that the benefits of the system are accessible to all – helping to bring the world closer.”


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