The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is one of the specialized agencies of the United Nations, and has as its core objectives the promotion of creative intellectual activity and the facilitation of the transfer of technology related to intellectual property to the developing countries in order to accelerate economic, social and cultural development (art. 1 of the 1974 Agreement between the UN and the WIPO). It has 181 member states, and administers 21 international treaties . The headquarters of WIPO are in Geneva, Switzerland.
The predecessor to WIPO was the BIRPI (Bureaux Internationaux Réunis pour la Protection de la Propriété Intellectuelle, French acronym for United International Bureau for the Protection of Intellectual Property), which had been set up in 1893 to administer the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.
WIPO was formally created by the Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization (Signed at Stockholm on July 14, 1967 and as amended on September 28, 1979). Under Article 3 of this Convention, WIPO seeks to "promote the protection of intellectual property throughout the world." WIPO became a specialized agency of the UN in 1974, as above-mentioned.
Unlike other branches of the United Nations, WIPO has enormous financial resources which are generated from the collection of fees by the International Bureau (IB) under the Patent Cooperation Treaty, which it administers.
WIPO is a one country, one vote forum. This is important, because there is a significant North-South divide in the politics of intellectual property . During the 1960s and 70s, developing countries were able to block expansions to intellectual property treaties (such as universal pharmaceutical patents ) which might have occurred through WIPO.
In the 1980s, this led to the United States "forum shifting " intellectual property standard-setting out of WIPO and into the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (later the WTO), where the North had greater control of the agenda. This strategy paid dividends with the enactment of TRIPs.
In recent years, WIPO has sought to aggressively promote the interests of intellectual property owners. Much of the important work is done through committees, including for example the Standing Committee on Patents (SCP), the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), the Advisory Committee on Enforcement (ACE), and the Intergovernmental Committee (IGC) on Access to Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore, and the Working Group on Reform of the Patent Cooperation Treaty.
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04