On World Intellectual Property Day, UN honours creativity and innovation

Francis Gurry, Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Photo: WIPO/Emmanuel Berrod

26 April 2013 – The world of tomorrow is being imagined by creative innovators of today, the head of the United Nations intellectual property agency said marking World Intellectual Property Day.

“Creativity is common to all humanity. It is this human creativity and inventiveness that is responsible for improving our quality of life in every sphere: our medical care, our transport, our communication, our entertainment,” said Francis Gurry, Director General of the UN World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

Highlighting this year’s theme ‘Creativity: the next generation’, Mr. Gurry urged young people to dream big. “My message to the next generation [is] keep creating; keep innovating. And keep thinking about how IP should fulfil its role in the future social management of creativity and innovation.”

Among this year’s events, the Geneva-based WIPO organized an exhibit and panel discussion featuring three dimensional (3D) printing. In a statement, WIPO said that 3-D printing is both a manufacturing and a digital technology, and as such, it makes the unauthorized copying of objects easier, raising a number of challenges to intellectual property protection.

Mr. Gurry, who chaired the panel discussion, recalled that while the buzz around 3-D printing is relatively recent, the first patent relating to 3-D technology was filed in 1971, and a patent granted in 1977.

“This means that some of the technology associated with 3-D printing has already fallen in the public domain,” he said.

As speakers discussed the implications for manufacturing capacities using 3-D printers, as well as medical treatments, visitors to the 3-D exhibit saw a foldable seat made of plastic that, once folded, vaguely resembles an umbrella, a pair of improbable antique lace high heels plastic shoes and an accurate model of the wiring of the human brain that resembled a bit underwater coral.

In his message for the day, Mr. Gurry said there is a certain genius in intellectual property “by creating a mechanism for buying, selling and sharing access to the benefits of innovation and cultural creation.”

WIPO’s challenge, he added, is to ensure that the conditions for access are fair and balanced, so that the benefits are widespread, and so that it fosters a truly dynamic, creative global society in which the next generation will thrive.

World Intellectual Property Day is marked annually on 26 April in honour of the 1970 convention that established WIPO.

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