Introducing WIPO PROOF: an interview with Francis Gurry

SUMMARY

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry introduces WIPO PROOF, the latest in the Organization’s suite of IP business services and reflects on the broader issue of data governance and the importance of innovation and creativity in tackling current economic and health challenges.

 
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In May 2020, WIPO launched WIPO PROOF, the latest in the Organization’s suite of services to support businesses in the management of their innovative and creative assets. WIPO Director General Francis Gurry introduces the new service and explains how it can support innovators and creators in the digital economy. The Director General also reflects on the broader issue of data governance and the fundamental importance of innovation and creativity in tackling current economic and health challenges.

What is WIPO PROOF?

In practical terms, WIPO PROOF is like a digital notary. It provides irrefutable proof of the existence of a digital file at a given point in time. In the digital business environment, data needs to be safeguarded and WIPO PROOF helps to do that. Digital businesses are subject to vulnerabilities, including the loss or theft of information and data. WIPO PROOF addresses that vulnerability by providing reliable tamper-proof evidence of the existence of a digital file at a given moment in time. WIPO PROOF creates a digital fingerprint of the file and adds a time stamp to that record. When data files are formally documented in this way, it becomes more difficult for a third party to steal or later claim ownership over them. Such proof can also be critical in securing licensing deals and raising capital.

WIPO PROOF also allows those who contribute to the development of a work, a product, a research project and so forth, to provide proof of their participation. In the digital world, there are countless creative, technological and scientific ventures that involve a great deal of collaboration and the sharing of innumerable data files. For example, many musicians record their music in collaboration with artists in various parts of the world. One records the vocals, sends the digital file to another who adds the instrumentation, and so on. Using WIPO PROOF, artists can provide incontrovertible evidence of their contribution to the exercise. Such evidentiary proof can be extremely important for many individuals, companies and organizations engaged in innovation and creativity by showing that the digital file originated with the person who is purporting to be the owner.

Video: Introducing WIPO PROOF

Why is WIPO PROOF important for the digital world?

WIPO PROOF is an important development as it moves intellectual property protection further into the digital world. The economy is currently undergoing a huge transformation from industrialization to digitization. Most IP rights were developed for the industrial age. While, as statistics suggest, they remain relevant – large numbers of patent applications are filed for digital communications and information technologies, for example – classical IP rights do not necessarily cover all types of intellectual assets, especially with respect to safeguarding data. That makes WIPO PROOF a small but significant step in providing IP services that target the needs of the digital economy.

In practical terms, WIPO PROOF is like a digital notary. It provides irrefutable proof of the existence of a digital file at a given point in time.

Francis Gurry, WIPO Director General

Are similar services already available?

Yes. While the service does exist at the national level in certain countries, our market research clearly indicated a need for such a service to be offered by a trusted and impartial international...

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