Celebrate Intellectual Property Day

Today marks World IP-Day, a day to celebrate how intellectual property rights enable limitless human innovation. The celebration will include events on six continents aimed at raising awareness of intellectual property rights. Property Rights Alliance along with 54 partners signed an open letter directed to World Intellectual Property Organization Director General Francis Gurry to express their support for IP Rights and WIPO’s mission.

IP Rights grow economies, drive innovation, and enhances lives exclaims the open letter signed by 54 partners from across the globe. Yet, the letter warns, the incentives created by IP rights have never been more at risk. Rising levels of counterfeit goods and countries pursuing agendas to weaken IP rights in international forums are garnering attention. Intellectual property must be defended, the letter calls on WIPO to review the ways IP enhances economic development and access to new products; work with countries to stabilize and grow their IP regimes; support IP as a property right and a right to enhancing development; and finally, to oppose adoption of policies to the contrary such as the UN High Level Panel Report on Access to Medicines.

Intellectual property is not just for Western or wealthy nations. The letter signers include organizations from Argentina, Albania, Morocco, Pakistan, South Africa, and even Turkey. Since signing the WTO TRIPs agreement, and other international treaties, countries have leapfrogged from being notorious for IP theft to specialized IP contributors. People in the poorest countries just as easily fall victim to counterfeit products, such as plastic rice, as those in rich countries fall victim to exploding batteries of counterfeit products. But, enforcement is now where IP rights end. They enable economies to flourish.

More than one-third of patent applications in 2015 came from China, whose applications growth rate is nearly 5x more than the next leading office. China began implementing TRIPS in 1999 and has continually updated domestic IP laws, most recently in 2016. Today China graduates just as many Ph.D. researchers as the United States and is a global leader in stem-cell research and gene therapy.

Stronger IP rights in India have helped transition the pharmaceutical sector there from production of generics alone to contributing novel research towards breakthroughs in diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and new vaccines for deadly diseases.

Likewise, Singapore, once called “the piracy capital of the world” by a U.S. senator, completely reversed its IP practices after acceding to the WTO and implementing other trade agreements. Today it has an outstanding example of a robust IP system that incentivizes and nurtures an IP economy. Singapore’s IP-intensive economy employs 43% of its workforce which is responsible for nearly 50% of its GDP.

Thank you to WIPO Director General Francis Gurry for organizing World IP Day to bring attention to the way IP enhances our everyday lives. We look forward to celebrating with more countries and more events in the years to come.

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