WIPO Director General Highlights Importance of Intellectual Property for Innovation and Technology Transfer

Geneva, May 10, 2010
PR/2010/640

The critical role of intellectual property as a tool for enabling innovation, the practical transfer of technology and industrial competitiveness were the focus of the remarks of WIPO Director General Francis Gurry to a key meeting of member states of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) in Vienna today.

Mr. Gurry said that the intellectual property system played a key role in facilitating technology transfer by incentivizing investment in innovation, providing a framework for trading intellectual assets, and by establishing market order through marks and brands. He noted that the innovation landscape was “the subject of rapid and radical change” pointing to the intensification of investment in knowledge creation which had more than doubled in the past 15 years rising to some 1.1. trillion US dollars in 2009.

The Director General also highlighted the rapidly changing geography of technology production, noting that China had become the third largest investor in research and development. He highlighted, in particular, the experiences of Japan, the Republic of Korea and China which have experienced sustained growth in international patent applications. In 1994, these countries together accounted for 7.6% of international patent applications filed under WIPO’s Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) rising, fifteen years later, in 2009 to 29.2%.

The Director General also referred to the dramatic shift in models of innovation, and specifically, the arrival of open and networked innovation, which he said, “offers great opportunities for developing countries to share in innovation”. He emphasized that intellectual property in its broadest sense is a mechanism for translating knowledge into commercial assets noting that the means of production of knowledge was moving from the individual to the collective and from national to international

Mr. Gurry said that the intellectual property system offers an essential framework for defining the rights and obligations of multiple participants in collective knowledge-generation and knowledge-sharing projects. The Director General also emphasized the importance of developing the infrastructure of the international intellectual property system as a means of increasing participation in the knowledge economy and reducing the knowledge gap.

WIPO and UNIDO are currently exploring opportunities to formalize and further strengthen their cooperation to leverage their respective expertise in support of sustainable development.

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