IP should be seen as a tool to achieve aspiration, says WIPO DG

Daren Tang, Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organisation, outlines work the UN agency is doing with SMEs, tackling Covid-19 and climate change; announces that WIPO Proof is not continuing. Maura O’Malley, of Intellectual Property Magazine, reports from CIPA Congress 2021.

“As a UN agency, the shaping of global IP norms is key to our work but this has become an increasingly fraught exercise due to the larger forces of multilateralism,” so said World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Director General Daren Tang in a keynote address at Charted Institute of Patent Attorneys virtual congress 2021.

He continued that consensus could still be found particularly in setting standards in technical areas for example, changing the ways it describes the sequencing of amino acids and nucleotides in patent documentation.

WIPO will also carry on as a global convenor for the discussion of IP issues like emerging trends in IP and AI, and IP valuation, he said.
The pandemic had accelerated the importance of IP and innovation and Tang described how WIPO was helping to overcome the global challenges of the pandemic, the recovery and combating climate change.

He emphasised that WIPO wanted to engage beyond fellow IP professionals and specialists and reach out to new stakeholders, such as to women, the youth and SMEs.

Tang remarked that around the world, SMEs make up 90% of all businesses. And a recent European Patent Office and European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) study found that SMES who own IP, generate 70% more revenue. And yet, only 9% of SMEs in Europe actively used IP in their businesses.

WIPO was committed to intensifying support for governments to help SMEs harness the use of IP to grow their business.

“We have also developed a suite of practical resources like toolkits!” Tang said, adding that programmes like the UK Intellectual Property Office’s Access Funds scheme aimed at helping SMEs use IP to grow, was to be commended.

Tang said he wants WIPO to take a holistic approach in close cooperation with a community-based NGO in Uganda that was providing mentorship to a dozen female entrepreneurs on aspects like brand development and helping them to realise that IP was a tool for them to achieve their hopes and aspirations.

WIPO launched WIPO Green in 2020, which functions as an online platform for technology exchange. It connected providers of environmentally friendly technologies with those that needed to use these technologies, he said.

The initiative comprises of a WIPO green database made up of inventions, technologies and services from around the world and inventors and seekers can find ways to match their needs and solutions.

It also comprises of a WIPO green network that acts as a global platform and acts as a marketplace for green inventions. So far, it is comprised of 6,000 environmentally friendly technologies with close to 2,000 registered users worldwide.

Tang also announced that WIPO was no longer proceeding with WIPO Proof, which was launched in May 2020 as an online service and aimed to provide tamper-proof evidence of the existence at a point in time of any digital file, including data sets, in any format.

He said that when he took up his position as DG, he had a “very hard-nosed look” at WIPO Proof. Coming from Singapore, he knew there were a lot of other providers of similar services and “took the difficult decision to not carry on with WIPO Proof “because WIPO should not be doing things that the private sector do like date time-stamping services.”

He did say that they will take care of people “who continue to have tokens with us”.

He concluded that he would rather “WIPO focused on being the agency that brings people together… maybe we have a role in helping with the standards and quality control… but shouldn’t be in the arena as well.”

Date published: 16 September 2021

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