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Asia's IP leaders: Bigger and more important

The Asia selection from Managing IP’s annual list of the most influential people in IP illustrates the region’s growing influence, both in economic and intellectual terms. Simon Crompton introduces their profiles

Our list of the Top 50 most influential people has been running for 10 years, and never have there been more people from Asia. This year's list features 15 representatives from the region, an increase from 12 in 2011 and 10 in 2010. The strength of Asia, even in the face of prolonged economic weakness in other parts of the world, has been a big reason behind this increasing influence on the future of intellectual property.

China, of course, is always the first concern for western companies, given its scale and rapid growth. But while Tian Lipu, the head of the State Intellectual Property Office, is an obvious choice for the Top 50 given his leadership in recent years, the diverse backgrounds of China's other representatives, from judges to industry representatives to public intellectuals, demonstrate the scope and complexity involved in strengthening IP in the country.

Top 50 entrants from other countries, meanwhile, demonstrate the breadth of Asia's growth and rising importance. Tan Yih San, the head of the Singapore IP Office, is leading the charge to make the Southeast Asian city-state an IP hub, while Prabha Sridevan of the Indian IP Appellate Board makes the list as the world watches her closely as she decides hot-button issues, such as compulsory licensing of pharmaceuticals. And in Australia, as plain packaging laws survive constitutional challenge on the day this IP Focus goes to press, Attorney-General Nicola Roxon certainly deserves her place.

Every year Managing IP lists what it considers to be the most influential people in the world of intellectual property. There is no nomination or voting process, which is compiled by Managing IP journalists in London, New York and Hong Kong. However, if you have suggestions or feedback, take part in the debate by commenting on the feature online or by joining us on LinkedIn or Twitter (#MIP50).

Front-line soldier

Jack Chang
GE and Quality Brands Protection Committee

While the opportunities in China's rapidly growing economy continue to draw the attention of international companies, its reputation for difficult IP enforcement still makes rights holders wary. Jack Chang, senior IP counsel at GE and a self-described "front-line IP soldier," has worked to make China a more IP-friendly place.

To this end, Chang and the Quality Brands Protection Committee (QBPC), an industry group with over 200 multinational members, has not only lobbied for laws and regulations protecting IP rights, he has also worked to maintain lines of communication between foreign companies and the government to build working relationships and clear up misconceptions that might hinder foreign investment.

"The QBPC tries to be a bridge between foreign companies and the Chinese government," says Chang.

He points to one example where the QBPC played an important role in helping foreign companies improve their understanding of China. In 2010, the QBPC engaged the Ministry of Science and Technology concerning the so-called indigenous innovation policies, which would have required government procurement to favour products based on Chinese-developed IP. Chang and the QBPC helped convince the government that such policies could "also negatively impact on China's efforts to become an innovative country, as it discourages foreign companies in investing in R&D".

In January 2011, President Hu Jintao finally announced that the rules would be discarded. Various ministries issued orders in June 2011 to implement Hu's directive and eventually the State Council issued its own order announcing the end of the procurement rules.

Chang said, however, that some foreign trade associations were still reporting in early 2012 that the rules were in effect at a local level, causing concern that foreign companies were operating at a disadvantage. The QBPC quickly moved to address these misperceptions, and also worked with both Chinese and foreign government officials to dispel any misunderstanding.

"One of our most important tasks is to keep foreign companies in the loop," says Chang. He sees the QBPC's continuing role of communicator as its most vital.

As foreign companies increase investment in China, technology transfers issues are increasingly important. "Foreign IP owners often worry whether their technology is protected when they bring it into China, and are sometimes hesitant to license their technology to local companies," says Chang.

"We had heard concerns that the Chinese government had been pressuring foreign companies to transfer their technologies to local firms in exchange for market access," he said, though after thorough investigation, he found no evidence of this.

Still, Chang sees this belief as an obstacle to investment and is working to address both the perception and the reality. He and the QBPC are working with a number of academics in Beijing, as well as courts in southern China.

"GE and other innovation-driven companies care very much about this issue," he says. "I believe that one way to address the US-China trade imbalance is to promote the technology trade between the two countries, so we need to address these concerns to remove obstacles in technology transfer and to continuously work with the government to foster open innovation and improve IP protection."

Chang's influence on IP in China has grown and evolved, much like the QBPC's role. Though the group was initially named the China Anti-counterfeiting Coalition and started with this narrower purpose, the relationships that Chang has built have allowed the group to represent IP owners in a wide variety of ways.

Kim Dotcom

His twitter feed has been silent since January 27 and the man himself has scarcely spoken publicly for the past few months, after spending a month in jail. But Kim Dotcom has barely been out of the news. In fact, one British newspaper has a page devoted to him.

The German-born, New Zealand-resident founder of file-sharing site MegaUpload is accused of using money earned from copying music and movies to fund a lavish lifestyle, and the United States is seeking his extradition on fraud and criminal IP charges.

But Dotcom (real name Kim Schmitz) will not go quietly: his lawyers recently succeeded in challenging the warrants used to arrest him and he has accused US vice-president Joe Biden of personally ordering the MegaUpload shutdown. These defiant antics make him the pin-up pirate for a generation of file sharers and public enemy number one for the RIAA and MPAA.

Jiang Ying
IP Tribunal, Beijing First Intermediate Court

Called a "judicial star" by peers in China, Jiang Ying is as one of the most respected and influential IP judges in the country.

A veteran of over 1,400 IP cases, including 400 involving foreign parties, she was recently promoted to the position of deputy chief judge of the IP Tribunal of the Beijing First Intermediate People's Court. "She is extremely professional, and a very impartial judge," said one lawyer who wished to remain anonymous. "Other judges pay attention to her decisions."

Jiang's influence extends beyond those decisions though. She is a frequent lecturer, talking about the importance of IP laws and ways to encourage creation and innovation, ultimately to the benefit of China's development. Attorneys think her influence will continue to grow. Despite her recent elevation to the deputy chief judge role, many believe she will be promoted again in the near future.

Forging copyright compromise

Neil Gane (Left): Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft
John Stanton (right): Communications Alliance

Earlier this year, the Australian High Court unanimously ruled in Roadshow Films v iiNet that ISPs were not liable for its users' IP infringement, despite receiving notices of the activity. The holding shifted the balance of power in the negotiations between ISPs and rights holders on the responsibilities of service providers to prevent infringement. The resulting agreement may well serve as a model for other jurisdictions dealing with ISP liability.

As the lead negotiators, John Stanton of the Communications Alliance and Neil Gane of the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft will play major roles in shaping the new regime. Speaking on behalf of major Australian service providers like iiNet, Optus and Internode, Stanton said that the preference is to come to an agreement and an industry scheme rather than legislation.

Gane also believes that there is a lot of room for agreement and common interests: "As convergence becomes a reality, telecommunication companies are getting into content distribution and we are fast adopting the same game plan – to monetise content."

Both sides agree that the system should have a heavy emphasis on education and notice to users. "It appears to us that the vast majority of infringers are casual infringers, not hardcore 'torrent freaks', explains Stanton. "We think casual infringers will respond to a demonstration that their actions are detectable and likely illegal, and inform them of legal ways to gather the content." He proposes an education programme that would inform users on the basics of copyright law, as well as practical issues such as how to secure their wireless networks from unauthorised use and legal ways to access content.

Rights holders also believe that educating users has to be a major part of the agreement, stressing not only the need to teach users about legal ways to access content, but also the dangers of piracy to the consumers themselves.

"Rights holders recognise that we have a role to play in making consumers aware of the wide variety of places where they can get legal content without any of the online risk involved in engaging with pirate sites," says Gane. "It is widely recognised that malware designers know where internet users like to go and what key words they often use – such as 'free movies' or 'free TV shows'."

The two sides have also come closer together on the issue of punitive measures, though there is still some disagreement on details. The ISPs have taken a strong stance against disconnecting or blocking users. "Previously, the rights holders were pushing for the right to have customers suspended and disconnected without a court order, and they've now effectively backed off that demand," says Stanton. "They were also asking for the ability to shape and change the speed of certain types of internet traffic, and they seem to have moved beyond that request as well."

Gane would still like to see some form of technological measures to prevent infringement by repeat offenders, though he stressed that they would be used at the ISPs' discretion. He advocates a series of "mitigation measures" such as "temporary reductions of Internet speeds or redirection to a landing page until the subscriber contacts the ISP or reviews and responds to educational information about copyright," with a dispute resolution framework and a right to arbitration.

Stanton says that the biggest obstacle between the ISPs and rights holders is deciding who should pay for such a system. He argues that whether the system to detect infringement is manual or automatic, it would result in significant costs to ISPs.

"Rights holders are the ones who benefit from it, and they can afford to fund such a program many times over," he argues.

Stanton also believes that piracy is a symptom of a larger issue: "We think Hollywood studios need to understand that the consumer mindset is changing. Australia has a history of staggered releases, where we get content much later than other countries such as the US, and consumers don't want to wait." He points to a recent episode of Game of Thrones, where some trackers showed that 10% of illegal downloads worldwide took place in Sydney alone. New episodes of the show are often released in Australia at least a week after the US release. "Rights holders not competing with free; they're competing with free and available," he says.

Gane disagrees. "To suggest that the content industry simply reduces its already competitive prices and makes all content globally available oversimplifies what is a sophisticated business sector," he says.

Whatever they come up with, these negotiators will create an agreement could serve as a model for ISP-content relations worldwide.

Ricardo Blancaflor
Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines

Since becoming director-general of the Philippines' IP Office in March 2010, Ricardo Blancaflor has put other offices to shame with the speed and breadth of his achievements.

The Philippines has acceded to the Madrid Protocol, despite much local opposition from law firms and the challenge of sufficiently reducing the Office's pendency times. In five years the average trade mark pendency has fallen from 40 months to eight. He has also masterminded amendments to the IP Code as well as tougher anti-counterfeiting work, seizing goods worth over $200 million in the past year.

Lu Guoqiang
Shanghai IP office

As the head of the Shanghai IP Administration (SIPA), Lu Guoqiang has plans to make the growing financial centre an IP powerhouse as well. Known for its efficient court system, Shanghai is already one of the most popular jurisdictions for foreign companies to file IP suits. Lu is building on this advantage, and is devising a 10-year plan to cement the city's role as a regional IP hub. Goals include fostering IP exchanges in the city, as well as giving small and medium-sized businesses ways to use their IP as collateral to gain funding. In addition, Lu has been lobbying for WIPO to open its first China regional office in Shanghai.

Lu's commitment to improving IP protection in Shanghai has been steadfast. A former judge, he helped to set up the IP chamber of the Shanghai Higher People's Court, and has ruled on a number of high-profile cases, including a 2005 decision finding that Xingbake's unauthorised use of Starbucks and the Chinese transliteration Xing Ba Ke amounted to trade mark infringement.

Lu's work to strengthen IP in Shanghai has received positive feedback. Francis Gurry, director-general of WIPO, said that the city's 10-year plan "is a move in the right direction that will open up the Asia-Pacific region to WIPO and the whole world".

He makes excuses

Toshiaki Iimura
Japanese IP High Court

A returning member of the Top 50, Toshiaki Iimura was elevated to the role of Chief Judge of the IP High Court of Japan in April. Already considered the most influential IP judge in the country, his new position confirms his status as a key voice in reforming Japan's IP system.

Although Japan has long had a reputation for not protecting IP owners, Iimura has handed down a number of influential decisions in contrast to this, such as holdings limiting obviousness attacks on patents. He has also handed down landmark decisions in other areas of IP, such as upholding Coca-Cola's trade mark registration for the shape of its bottle.

"I thought Judge Iimura was genuinely concerned about how IP cases will influence industry," Naoki Yoshida of Finnegan told Managing IP in an interview. "He was concerned with the message they send to patent holders." Iimura is also seen as an ambassador for intellectual property in Japan, often speaking at events and educating others about the Japanese system.

"There is a Japanese proverb, 'judges don't make excuses'," says Takanori Abe of Abe Law in Osaka, meaning that judges are often hesitant to talk about their decisions and reasoning outside of court. Judge Iimura is an exception. He openly speaks about legal decisions as well as issues facing the entire IP system.

Masterminding the innovation burst

Tian Lipu

The choice might be predictable, but it would be foolhardy to make a list of the IP world's most influential 10 people and exclude Tian Lipu, commissioner of China's State Intellectual Property Office.

Under Tian's leadership, China's intellectual property has grown by leaps and bounds. In 2011, China overtook the United States and Japan with the most patent filings in the world, with 1.63 million. The increase has been astonishing, given that there were only about 3 million total applications filed in China in the last 20 years.

Some of this is credited to economic incentives for frequent patent filers, but it is also the result of increasing awareness of the importance of intellectual property in China. As a number of IP attorneys have noted, 2010 and 2011 also saw a marked increase of Chinese companies as plaintiffs in IP litigation cases.

The boom in patent applications is just one facet of China's national IP strategy to become "a nation with an internationally top level of creating, using, protecting and managing IP rights by 2020" in Tian's words. From increasing the number of patent examiners to devising creative, if controversial, methods of supporting Chinese IP, such as the so-called indigenous innovation policies, the IP environment in China is rapidly changing, with Tian at the forefront.

This emphasis on IP fits into a larger vision for China to become more than just the world's factory. Intellectual property is seen as a key to this, and as a path to increased international influence.

"Culture is the foundation of soft power and also a fertile ground for creative industry," said Tian in a statement during this year's World IP day events in Beijing. "It is absolutely imperative to accelerate development of an IP culture combined with traditional, profound Chinese wisdom for a burst of innovation."

Xi Xiaoming
Supreme People’s Court of China

Xi Xiaoming is vice-president of the Supreme People's Court (SPC) and oversees its IP Tribunal. Though Xi no longer rules on individual cases, he is responsible for shaping the national judicial IP policy.

Xi also speaks and writes frequently on IP issues. Not only does he discuss there the importance of IP protection in China's rapidly growing economy and the importance of the national IP strategy, he has stressed the role of judicial policy in improving the IP environment. He points to the need for uniform standards of justice, as well as efficient and "scientific" allocation of judicial resources.

"Even though Xi is not actively ruling on cases, he has a lot of influence on IP policy," explains one attorney. "His speeches often form the basis of judicial memorandums, which act as guidelines for other judges. Along with the chief judge [Kong Xiangjun of the IP Tribunal], he is one of the most influential in intellectual property."

Prabha Sridevan
Intellectual Property Appellate Board of India

Prabha Sridevan was appointed chairman of the Intellectual Property Appellate Board on September 5 2011 after serving as a judge on the Madras High Court for 10 years. She has quickly made her imprint on IP practice in India.

In the past year, she has ruled on a number of noteworthy cases, such as Yahoo v Controller and Rediff, holding that business methods are not patentable in India, and Tata v Unilever, invalidating Unilever's water-filter patent for failure to file Section 8 disclosures. She was also the sitting judge on Financial Times v Times Publishing House, where she invalidated the British newspaper's trade mark.

Sridevan is also expected to speed up and clear the backlog at IPAB, which is very welcome among IP owners. A number of attorneys have commented on her hesitance to grant unwarranted time extensions, as well as her willingness to speed up hearings when both sides work quickly and act in good faith. She has also aggressively lobbied for additional resources for IPAB.

The future of IP in China

Zhang Qin
China Association for Science and Technology

Zhang Qin is no starry-eyed academic. A nuclear engineer and computer scientist by training, he served as deputy commissioner of China's State Intellectual Property Office from 2003 to 2009. As the second highest official at SIPO, he was the key organiser and drafter of the Outline of National Intellectual Property Strategy of China (ONIPSC) issued by the State Council in 2008, and is credited for formulating the more than 200 action goals it took to implement the Strategy.

Zhang has stayed involved in the development of IP rights in China as the executive secretary of the China Association of Science and Technology and vice president of the China Intellectual Property Society. He is also playing the role of public intellectual. In April, he published his book, The Basic Theory of Intellectual Property Rights, which lays out the philosophical justification for IP and its role in China's national development.

The goal of his book is to outline the purpose of intellectual property and IP rights to a Chinese public is relatively unfamiliar with these concepts. The starting point of this understanding, Zhang says, is that "intellectual property is different from intellectual property rights".

"Property is a concept of economics," Zhang explains. He argues that property has two fundamental qualities; it is useful in some way, and it has scarcity. In this way, intellectual property is different from physical property, because there is no scarcity to a piece of IP once it is created.

Zhang points out that IP rights create a monopoly, and thus address this issue of scarcity. Patents and copyrights, he argues, are a "legislative right to create scarcity". Having scarcity is what allows IP to be traded and controlled like other property rights.

"Intellectual property is not a natural right," he emphasises. Rather it is a human-created right with a very short history in China.

"China has only had IP rights for about 30 years," says Zhang. "For thousands of years, China did not have an IP system, and it was normal. But people eventually began to realise that technology and innovations were useful, just expensive. IP rights were invented to address the risk of bearing this expense and avoiding the tragedy of the commons."

Zhang sees IP rights through the lens of national interest. He believes that an IPR system must be designed to benefit the people of each country and the needs of each nation, and that is why each country has their own intellectual property laws.

He explained that when China's economy was less developed, it was not in its interest to have a strong IP system that many felt just protected foreign companies. At that time, he said, most Chinese companies could not afford to purchase or license the technologies and just wanted them for free.

However, now that China is creating more and more of its own intellectual property, the scope of its IP protection will likely increase to reflect the changing interests of its people, Zhang says. "China will want stronger protections for its intellectual property, and will want to sell our own technologies." Because China is becoming a creator of IP, he says, he believes that it will continue harmonising its IP system with those of countries such as the United States.

Despite the value Zhang places on IP rights and his belief that harmonisation will continue, his vision for China is uniquely his own. In the future when China becomes a supplier of IP to less developed countries, he believes that there are situations where rights owners should share their technologies without receiving the full price in return. He cites medical patents as an example, and situations where a new technology can save many lives in a developing country that cannot otherwise afford to pay for a licence.

The brigadier building an IP hub

Tan Yih San
IP Office of Singapore

It's an unusual career move, but for Tan Yih San a logical one. On June 1 last year, he became chief executive of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore, retiring from the Singapore Armed Forces, following a 26-year career that took him to the rank of brigadier. With a bachelor of science degree in physics, Tan was always interested in new technologies and immediately before joining IPOS worked in developing emerging technologies and investing in start-up companies, with a view to boosting the defence budget.

It meant, he says, that he saw IP "from the customer's angle". Now he is putting that to use as he seeks to reorient the IP system in Singapore – and beyond – and in particular to build what the government calls an "IP hub" in the country. "IP is the means to an innovative and inventive economy," he tells Managing IP, adding that the country can build on its history as a trading and financial centre to promote research and IP knowledge.

That meant taking "a fundamental look" at the office when he arrived, and then setting out three tasks: strengthening the IP regime, building linkages and developing a marketplace for transactions. A year on, work is underway on all three tasks. First, registration will become more efficient and cheaper with Singapore introducing what it calls a positive-grant system for patents. Accompanying this will be an emphasis on the quality of search and examination, which will require some expansion in the Office's resources. Tan also draws on his previous experiences to emphasise the importance of patent mapping in identifying R&D gaps.

Second, Singapore is building links internationally, with pilot patent-prosecution highways with countries including Japan and the US. It has also said that it will allow overseas patent agents to act in Singapore.

But the third task is the most interesting. Tan says the government has an important role to play to "bridge the gap" where the private sector cannot deliver in creating marketplaces. This includes work on IP valuation and creating incentives, such as through taxation. "Singapore is already a trading hub, with a trusted legal system and a very efficient financial system. We want to see how we can add value to that from an IP perspective," he says. That means identifying the needs of the various consumers, from individual inventors to the 7,000 and growing multinational companies that have a presence in Singapore. "The world of innovation is rapidly evolving," says Tan, pointing specifically to the growth of technology licensing and cross-licensing.

To get the word out about its various initiatives, IPOS is hosting a range of events and discussions. This month, for example, saw IP Week @ SG, comprising two complementary events with a range of speakers. Other events take place throughout the year, aimed at businesses, professionals and the general public, and cover both IP strategy and awareness. In a speech last year, Tan said that "demystifying IP" is a core task for IP offices, and highlighted three emerging trends: "The first is to create buy-in for an increasingly buoyant youth. The second is to enthuse the preoccupied working populace. And third is to capitalise on the great flow of information through cyberspace in which the assignment of property rights is non-territorial and the duplicative effort is near zero."

With all this activity, Tan is a busy man. So busy, in fact, that he confesses he has not had time lately to practise his golf swing, despite being chairman of one of Singapore's clubs. The consequence is that his handicap has risen from 10 to "about 18". Getting it back down again might have to wait a few years, until this ambitious programme to build a new IP hub in Asia is complete.

When trade marks and health collide

Nicola Roxon
Attorney-general, Australia

Australian politician Nicola Roxon might have changed jobs, but her fight to make cigarette manufacturers sell their products under plain packaging continues.

As Australia's minister for health and ageing, Roxon introduced world-first plain packaging measures for cigarettes, cigars and loose tobacco. That law is due to take effect in December, when cigarette packets will need to appear in the same standard dark brown packaging with a graphic health warning set to be 150% bigger.

The proposal and subsequent passing into law outraged tobacco companies who railed and rallied, complaining that laws requiring them to remove their logos amount to state-organised theft of intellectual property.

Between them, tobacco companies hired most of Australia's best-known IP legal teams in one role or another and set about filing lawsuits. Once again, they find themselves up against Roxon, this time in her role as the country's attorney-general (the former lawyer and trade union organiser took over the job in December last year).

In August, the High Court of Australia ruled against four tobacco companies, turning down their argument that since the Plain Packaging Act 2011 does not offer them any compensation it breaches Section 51(xxxi) of Australia's Constitution, which provides that the government may not acquire property other than on just terms. Now Roxon just has to deal with two other legal challenges. Ukraine filed a complaint against the law under the TRIPs Agreement at the WTO (rather strangely for a country with little tobacco industry of any note), and Philip Morris launched an action in Hong Kong under an investment treaty between the two economies.

Australia's legislation has divided trade mark owners and their advisers around the world. Some argue it is a slippery slope towards appropriation of trade mark rights more generally: moving on, perhaps, to sugary drinks, fatty foods and petrol-guzzling cars.

If Roxon's legislation survives multi-million dollar lawsuits then plain packaging regimes could be exported around the world. Tobacco manufacturers have so far found few sympathisers to their complaints of trade mark theft. IP owners will need to wait and see which, if any, industry might be next.

Building a very modern WIPO

Francis Gurry

When representatives of WIPO member states met in Beijing last month and signed a treaty, it was the first significant international IP agreement in 15 years.

The Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances can best be described as a tying-up of loose ends that remained after the two WIPO copyright treaties of 1996. WIPO Director-General Francis Gurry explained at the time: "The Beijing Treaty will enable performers to interact with greater confidence with the digital environment. It will remedy a widely perceived injustice of the unequal treatment of audiovisual performances, compared to musical performances, at the multilateral level."

That may not sound much. But the fact that a treaty could be signed at all represents great progress since the early years of this century, when international negotiations were frozen, WIPO was embroiled in controversy and governments were looking to bilateral and multilateral deals rather than international harmonisation. Post-TRIPs, there was an apparently unbridgeable divide between the developed (north) and developing (south) world, which encompassed sensitive topics such as access to medicines, traditional knowledge and geographical indications. Meanwhile, WIPO's then director-general, Kamil Idris, was criticised over his financial arrangements and had to retire early in 2007.

Francis Gurry, elected by the narrowest of margins in 2008, realised that his biggest task would be to restore credibility by building consensus. Interviewed by Managing IP soon after being appointed, he said his number one priority would be "reengaging or engaging WIPO in the many challenges that exist as a result of the changing environment for IP in the world".

He also realised that the IP world today is very different from that of a generation ago, when debates were confined to academics, lawyers and judges. WIPO, like other international institutions, is now a playground for commercial lobbyists, non-governmental organisations and charities. These have been prominent in recent debates, covering topics such as access to copyrighted materials for visually impaired persons.

The Organization is increasingly aware of the world beyond the IP cognoscenti. It aims to develop broader understanding with more sophisticated economic and social analysis: one of Gurry's first decisions was to appoint a chief economist. And, on another level, it promotes popular awareness through events such as the annual World IP Day. Notably, the build up to Beijing featured contributions from actors such as Javier Bardem and Meryl Streep.

An Australian, Gurry joined WIPO back in 1985 having previously practised law and written on IP and international relations. He held various positions at the Organization before getting the top job, including being responsible for the PCT and setting up the Arbitration and Mediation Center and the UDRP system, which has now handled some 25,000 domain name disputes. So he brought to the role of director-general both a real understanding of what could be achieved, and a good sense of the challenges that would have to be overcome.

Those challenges will only increase, as the internet and social media enable more and more stakeholders to contribute to debates about IP rights. Those debates are not always pretty or fruitful from the point of view of IP owners (see SOPA and ACTA) but they can no longer be avoided. Despite the challenges, Gurry remains optimistic, arguing: "The media attention is an expression of society getting it and a growing consciousness of the value of intangibles, and the fact that rights over knowledge are of fundamental importance for society. This is very positive. The additional interest makes possible the engagement of member states."

For that reason, he believes WIPO can build on the Beijing success, and even predicts that member states can agree more – at the rate of one a year. Areas where work is already underway include design procedures, broadcasting, visually impaired persons and even the area that was once seen as intractable – traditional knowledge.


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