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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 benets 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
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
difcult 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 sufciently 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 specic 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 ratication 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
I P L AW:
an interview with Francis Gurry
© WIPO 2009. Photo: Dhi llon