WIPO hosts first IP Judges Forum

Author:Catherine Jewell
Position:Communications Division, WIPO

In November 2018, WIPO welcomed 120 judges from 64 countries to the inaugural session of the Intellectual Property Judges Forum at its headquarters in Geneva. The event took place in the context of the Organization’s new orientation toward promoting the exchange of experiences and information among judges who handle intellectual property (IP) disputes, especially those related to the evolving... (see full summary)


On the sidelines of the Forum*, WIPO Director General Francis Gurry underlined the timeliness of this initiative. He noted that IP is now “a major factor in the economy all over the world so judiciaries around the world are confronting rather similar questions,” and that rapid technological change “is causing many new questions to arise and come before the judiciaries.”

“Our aim is to provide a forum for judges to be able to discuss some of these questions and challenges,” he explained, expressing the hope that the Forum will lead to “information sharing, experience sharing and even the identification of needs … to be addressed to ensure that we have an effective and balanced intellectual property system worldwide.”

This view was reiterated by Annabelle Bennett, Former Judge of the Federal Court of Australia and Chair of the WIPO Advisory Board of Judges, who noted that the Forum provided an opportunity for judges from both civil law and common law countries to “communicate with each other and talk about common problems that they can’t discuss outside the judiciary.”

In a series of interactive panel discussions, the Forum explored common themes that cut across jurisdictions, such as judges’ scope of discretion in granting remedies and handling public interest considerations as well as a range of emerging IP issues.

The value of transnational dialogue

Many participants highlighted the value and importance of dialogue among judges. Colin Birss, Justice of the High Court of England and Wales, said that IP “is a completely international area.” He noted that there is a general expectation within the business community that IP rights, like copyright, have the same characteristics and work in the same way in all countries. “What we need is for judges to talk to each other” because they all “have the same problems and we can learn from each other.”

Notwithstanding the sovereign nature of a country’s decision to shape its own IP policies, Jeremy Fogel, Executive Director of the Berkeley Judicial Institute and Former Judge and Director of the Federal Judicial Center in the United States, said that bringing judges from different countries together created an opportunity for them to better understand how and why their IP policies and rules came into being. “If you understand why those differences exist, you can work with them. We’re not going to get people to change just because somebody else is doing something a certain way, nor should we, but we...

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