WIPO chief says PH needs modern IP system to exploit new technologies

The head of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has reinforced the need for countries like the Philippines to modernize its intellectual property system to maintain the country’s competitive advantage in a technologically-advanced region.

WIPO director-general Francis Gurry

WIPO director-general Francis Gurry celebrated World Intellectual Property Day in the Philippines — a first in the 38 years of relations of the Philippines and WIPO — and highlighted the emerging trends in the global intellectual property regime and how these are evolving in light of new technologies such as robotics and artificial intelligence.

“We see technology is increasingly becoming complex and a lot of governments are confronted by this complex environment. This adds up to a situation economically where we see competition focused more and more on technology and on intellectual property,” said Gurry in his keynote address.

Gurry enumerated two other emerging trends in the world of intellectual property.

First of these trends is that demand for intellectual property is outpacing the world economy growth (3.5 percent vs. 10 percent growth in applications), pointing to the increasing importance of the global knowledge economy.

The second trend is the evident rise of Asia as the biggest producer of intellectual property in the world, citing 60 percent of intellectual property applications filed worldwide comes from the region.

According to Gurry, technology that’s protected by intellectual property has become the basis for competition in Asia in certain industries, and so the need for the Philippines to keep in-step with its neighbours is pressing.

“For a middle-income country like the Philippines, which is at the very center of these changing dynamics, of course there’s a highly competitive environment that necessitates the sort of strategies that have been put and need to be put in place by the government of the Philippines,” Gurry said, emphasizing that there’s a wide disparity in investments in research and development between developed and developing economies.

The technology borne out of the research and development in the developed economies have changed the way developing countries like the Philippines and other Asian countries can participate in the global value chain of different industries, for example in manufacturing.

Given the array of policy challenges coming from adapting to technological advances made by developed economies, Gurry said the WIPO is encouraging stakeholders that regulate IP systems to respond more quickly to the changes.

“Technology is just moving at such a rapid speed and questions remain unresolved by parliaments who simply have not had the time to address and work according to processes that may be too slow for the speed of technology. This is just an example of this tension between speed of technology and the relative slowness of our policy-making processes so at the WIPO we’re paying serious attention to this and we’re looking for the first time not just at the executive administration of intellectual property but the judicial of administration of intellectual property,” Gurry added.

The main panel discussion participated in by Gurry involved Philippine counterpart Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines director-general Josephine R. Santiago, Philippine permanent representative to the United Nation and Other International Organizations in Geneva, Ambassador Evan Garcia, Department of Trade and Industry undersecretary Rowel Barba, and Department of Science and Technology undersecretary Carol Yorobe.

Gurry also stood witness to IPOPHL’s launch of the Intellectual Property Awards, a recognition program designed to celebrate outstanding creative or intellectual achievements of Filipinos that has resulted to beneficial impact to national and economic development of the country.

The WIPO chief capped off his quick visit to the country with a courtesy call to acting Department of Foreign Affairs secretary Jose Luis G. Montales, wherein discussions focused on the importance of intellectual property to the Philippines as a developing country, and the future of Philippine-WIPO relations.

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