WIPO headquarters in Geneva
WIPO headquarters in Geneva

Understanding the World Intellectual Property Organization

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is one of the specialized agencies of the United Nation and functions as the global forum for Intellectual Property (IP) services, policy, information and cooperation where governments, intergovernmental organizations, industry groups and Civil Society Organizational come together to address the evolving Intellectual Property issues.

According to WIPO, Intellectual Property (IP) refers to the creations of the mind like inventions; literary and artistic works; and symbols, names and images used in commerce which can be perceived into two categories: registered Intellectual Property and non-registered Intellectual Property. Registered IP requires an application to an IP office in the respective states that will assess the application and make a decision if the invention, trademark or design meets the requirements for registration. Patents, Trade Marks, Designs, Geographical Indication and Plant Variety Protection come under the registered Intellectual Property.

Patents protects a right or title for a set period of 20 years, especially with the main objective of protecting your invention from others from re-making, using, or selling your same inventions. Trade Marks protect brands, names and logos of the company. Designs protect the way something looks, which can be the ornamental or aesthetic aspect of an article or the product. Geographical Indication (GI) is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin, for instance the brand Darjeeling Tea is attributable to its geographical origin. Plant Variety Protection protects new varieties of plants.

Intellectual Property that does not require registration in most countries is Copyright, which according to the Peter Willimott, Senior Program Officer at the WIPO Office in Singapore presented it as a legal term used to describe the rights that creators have over their literary and artistic works. “Works covered by copyright range from books, music, paintings, sculpture, and films, to computer programs, databases, advertisements, maps, and technical drawings. In majority of the countries, and according to the Berne Convention, copyright protection is obtained automatically without the need for registration or other formalities,” explained Peter.

The Intellectual Property system is based on national Intellectual Property laws and procedures. As a result, to obtain protection for an invention (patent or utility model), trademark or design, one needs to apply to the national Intellectual Property Office (Department of Intellectual Property under the Ministry of Economic Affairs in Bhutan). The Intellectual Property division will assess the application based on the laws of the country and decide whether or not to grant the right.

According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the protection and promotion of Intellectual Properties has become more important than ever. “The progress and well-being of humanity rest on its capacity to create and invent new works in the areas of technology and culture. Second, the legal protection of new creations encourages the commitment of additional resources for further innovation. Third, the promotion and protection of intellectual property spurs economic growth, creates new jobs and industries, and enhances the quality and enjoyment of life.

An efficient and equitable intellectual property system can help all countries to realize intellectual property’s potential as a catalyst for economic development and social and cultural well-being. The intellectual property system helps strike a balance between the interests of innovators and the public interest, providing an environment in which creativity and invention can flourish,” according to the lists by the WIPO.

The World Intellectual Property Organization functions with the mission to lead the development of a balanced and effective international intellectual property (IP) system that enables innovation and creativity for the benefit of all.

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