Making international IP law: An interview with Francis Gurry

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p. 2 2014 | 5
As the global forum for intellec tual property (IP) po licy, WIPO plays a pivotal role in
shaping the IP laws and systems which ha rness the benets of innovation and creativit y.
But achieving consen sus among 187 countries is ever more challenging. As he begin s
his second term at the helm of the Orga nization, WIPO Director General Francis Gurr y
describes how IP is bec oming a “key geopolitical issue of the 21st Century,” and the
implications he sees for inter national IP law-making.
How do you see the IP landsca pe evolving?
IP has been on a journey fro m the periphery to the ce nter of the economic system.
Many countries, including the wo rld’s four largest economies – the USA, China, Japan
and Germany – have explicitly rec ognized the central role of IP in their economic f uture.
This means that competitio n will increasingly focu s on innovation and on IP, raising
the stakes in the eld of IP. In this context, the continuing absolute neutralit y of the
WIPO secretariat is vital i n our handling of what promise to be ever-more challenging
negotiations.
Why do you think it i s becoming more difficu lt to reach international
agreements on m any issues?
This, I believe, stems from the profound chan ges resulting from the geo political shift
in the world’s economic center of gravity over the l ast 20 years. This is altering the
interests and positions of actors in internatio nal negotiations and making it increasing ly
difcult for memb er states to agree on proposed normati ve measures. We have to
accept this reality and tr y to identify opportunitie s where interests are sufciently ali gned
to permit agreement – as the me mber states were able to do in the negotiatio ns to
conclude the Beijing an d Marrakesh Treaties. I hope it will be possi ble to reach such
fruitful outcome s for the other items on our agenda. I woul d say, however, that the
nature of the current operating contex t favors the specic and mea surable over the
general and political.
What are your prior ities in the current copy right law agenda at WIPO?
First, encouraging spe edy ratication by member st ates of the Beijing Treaty on
Audiovisual Perform ances and of the Marrakes h Treaty to Facilitate Access to Pub-
lished Works for Persons Who A re Blind, Visually Impaired or Other wise Print Disabled,
which were concluded in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
The treaties WIPO administers f all into different categori es. Some set standards for
national laws, like the Beijing Treaty, which sets minimum standa rds of protection for
MAKING
INTERNATIONAL
I P L AW:
an interview with Francis Gurry
© WIPO 2009. Photo: Dhi llon

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