WIPO Lex: Building the World’s IP Law Database

Author:Alexander Matveev
Position:Global Infrastructure Sector, WIPO
SUMMARY

In just over five years, WIPO Lex, a unique global database of intellectual property (IP) laws and treaties of over 190 countries, has become a trusted and invaluable legal research tool. Attracting 1.8 million users annually, it is effectively the primary world reference source for IP legislation. So what is it that makes it stand out and what else lies in store for its future development?

 
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A truly global information asset

WIPO is committed to being the world reference source for IP information and analysis, and WIPO Lex is a key part of that strategic goal. The aim is to create a comprehensive, user-friendly and free-of-charge collection of all the IP laws and regulations covering the member states of WIPO, the United Nations (UN) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

In addition to national laws, WIPO Lex includes international and regional treaties plus a growing number of bilateral agreements relating to IP. As well as current laws, it includes historical regulations that have been superseded or amended. All of these legal texts are enhanced through bibliographic notes and hyperlinked cross-references and it is all free-of-charge.

The result is a rich and extensive collection. WIPO Lex currently contains over 13,000 documents from over 190 countries, and coverage is set to grow as laws are updated and more information is added.

“WIPO Lex, for the first time, offers a complete picture of the different national and international approaches to intellectual property issues and, in the digital era, it will certainly become an essential tool for lawyers and legal scholars throughout the world,” says Dr. Aladar Sebeni, Executive Director of the Institute for International Business Law, Fribourg University Law School, a WIPO Lex partner.

Ensuring user-friendly access

But sheer quantity of information is not enough to make a world-class information resource: the quality of the interface is also crucial. WIPO Lex is designed to help users find the material they need quickly and conveniently. Users can search by country and/or subject matter, or through a free-text search engine. Search results are then presented according to a standard hierarchical structure that makes it easy to understand each legal text in its wider context: from constitutional or basic law through to primary IP laws, IP-related laws and implementing rules and regulations, as well as information on participation in relevant treaties. Within each category of that hierarchy, laws are shown in reverse chronological order, so that users can easily see the current law while also tracing its historical evolution if required.

The WIPO Lex interface is available in the six official languages of the UN – Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish – while documents themselves are included in their original language with translated versions where available. At...

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