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Photo credit (WIPO): Dhillon Photographics
WIPO Director-General Francis Gurry
WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy
The course grew from the recognition that the developmental benefits from the intellectual property system can only be reaped through skilled adaptation to national circumstances and judicious use by informed practitioners. It therefore aimed to bolster the capacity of those best placed to ensure truly sustainable, long-term benefits from the adept use of the IP system — those who teach the IP practitioners of the future, and those who conduct research on IP law and policy.
The programme has been a conspicuous success, measured both by the quality of participation — high demand for places means that the course is highly selective — and the way in which participants have actively contributed substance to the programme, offered ideas for its continual improvement, and built valuable connections with each other and the two Secretariats.
To date, the programme has produced more than 160 alumni who, by all accounts, are doing sterling work in their home countries; many have maintained valuable links with one another, building a diverse network of highly engaged teachers and researchers, reaching across the developing world, which is the principal focus of the programme.
The IP Colloquium Research Paper Series is a compilation of contributions from the participants in each year. This series enables the unique insights gained from the Colloquium to be shared with a far wider circle than the immediate Colloquium, and helps sustain the scholarly debate.
Intellectual property has a significant impact on the everyday lives of all citizens around the world. Without the understanding, support, and global participation of all peoples across the societal spectrum, innovation will be stifled and development will be impeded. Initiatives such as the Colloquium play an important role in building capacity, raising awareness, and engaging all societies that are affected by the evolution of the international IP landscape.
We sincerely congratulate our colleagues in the WIPO Academy and the WTOIP Division for their commendable efforts in organizing the Colloquium and facilitating the publication.
From the Directors of the WTO IP Division and WIPO Academy back to top
WTO IP Division Director Antony Taubman
WIPO Academy Director Marcelo di Pietro Peralta
The field of intellectual property (IP) has entered a period of unprecedented globalization and a building of international institutions, bringing with it a deepened understanding of the centrality of a balanced and effective intellectual property system in economic and social development. Yet this same period has precipitated an intensive, wide-ranging process of inquiry about how to adapt and apply the principles of intellectual property to promote beneficial outcomes at the national level, in countries that are highly diverse in their economic, social and technological make-up, in their developmental priorities, and in their legal and commercial systems.
Equally, an IP dimension has been apparent in many of the most pressing and challenging public policy issues of the day — including on such fundamental questions as public health, the environment, and food security, with complex, testing debates over intellectual property and the rights of indigenous peoples, equity in the use of genetic resources, promoting a green energy economy, dissemination of creative works on the Internet, diversifying ideas of the innovative and creative processes, and calls for greater access to educational materials.
An essential set of questions concern how IP systems can and should be harnessed to promote social, cultural and economic development, and what are the key design considerations that ensure that IP systems can fulfil their expected role.
The contemporary field of intellectual property is therefore characterized by profound and searching debates on questions of essential public policy; an approach to policymaking that places greater emphasis on empirical research and theoretical clarity; and the harvesting of practical experience from an ever widening base of national IP systems and participants in the policy and practice of intellectual property. It is, therefore, a field in need of a deeper and wider research effort; sophisticated, informed and carefully tailored approaches to education and practical capacity building; and, above all, for dialogue and debate founded on a richer base of information, theoretical understanding and practical experience. Both WIPO and the WTO have been called upon to play a role in strengthening capacity to deal with the intellectual challenges of these policy debates. This increasing diversity of demand for capacity-building support has had a profound impact on programme design and delivery. The WIPO Academy has developed a wide range of specialist courses and training activities to respond to this evolving pattern of demand, and to reach out to and support an ever-widening range of stakeholders.
The WTO Intellectual Property Division has also broadened and tailored its technical cooperation and policy support activities, developing a wider engagement with current international issues and with a broader base of stakeholders, exemplified by work on public health issues. But none of these outcomes can be possible without partnerships — the sharing of ideas, pooling of resources, and coordination of practical activities — so that the necessary wide range of experience and expertise can be drawn on to meet diverse needs.
Both the WIPO Academy and the WTO Intellectual Property Division therefore enjoy many valuable partnerships as a central strategy in ensuring programme delivery. The joint colloquium exemplifies many of the current trends in technical assistance and capacity building: it builds upon and extends an existing partnership between WIPO and WTO; it responds to the need for stronger, broader dialogue and a greater involvement of voices from all perspectives in contemporary debates; it recognizes the central role of indigenous capacity building and of the key contribution of intellectual property teachers and researchers as the mainstay of sustainable development of the necessary intellectual property expertise in developing countries; it transcends traditional boundaries between regions and between “north” and “south”, to promote a wider, richer dialogue; and it recognizes the importance, today, of moving beyond a simple, one-way “educational” function to one of sustaining a collective search for understanding, respectful of the diverse background and intellectual contributions of the ever widening range of teachers and researchers engaged with intellectual property and its cognate fields.
The colloquium has, in particular, laid emphasis on the role of participants as active players, as informed, stimulating teachers and researchers who bring to the two-week dialogue as much as they take away from it. However, past feedback stressed the need to capture, in more permanent form, the many insights that are gleaned from these few days of intensive, vigorous discussion and debate. It was clear that the participating teachers and researchers were bringing important new ideas and insights to global debates, and that the wider policy and academic communities would benefit from their wider dissemination.
These thoughts, guided very much by the participating teachers and researchers themselves, are what gave rise to the present publication, which is in a way a tribute to the intellectual energy and curiosity of the many alumni of the past Colloquia, with whom we continue to enjoy a range of partnerships and dialogue.
WIPO and the WTO both host numerous meetings every year, in Geneva and in many locations elsewhere, and under numerous headings: committees, seminars, workshops, roundtables, symposia, and so on. But amidst all this activity, the idea of a “colloquium” has a special ring to it — for the WIPO-WTO colloquium, it connotes a spirit of academic enquiry, a search for new ideas and new ways of analysing intellectual property and related fields, through open debate, rigorous research, and new ways of communicating the complexities of intellectual property law, practice and policy.
We trust that the colloquium and its publication will bring to a wider community of researchers, policymakers and teachers some of the colloquium spirit that we have valued so much in this unique programme.