Contributed by: Lenon ONG and Benjamin HO (both text and photos)
Header Image contributed by: WIPO Singapore Office
On 5 February 2020, the World Intellectual Property Organization Office (“WIPO”) hosted members from the Intellectual Property Students’ Association (“IPSA”) for a study visit. Mr. Denis Croze, Director of WIPO Singapore Office, warmly welcomed IPSA members and alumni members to the study visit, and acknowledged IPSA’s contributions in the intellectual property (“IP”) landscape. During this visit, WIPO explained in detail the key roles of WIPO Singapore Office in the ASEAN region, the services it provides, and its goals and objectives.
The journey of WIPO and international IP Policy
Mr. Peter Willimott, WIPO Singapore Office’s Senior Program Officer, expounded upon WIPO’s raison d’etre: to provide a suite and expertise on IP-related services to support businesses.
Foremost, WIPO administers global services to protect and enforce IP rights cross-borders and to resolve disputes, and provides the appropriate technical infrastructure essential to connect IP systems (such as the Hague System and the Patent Cooperation Treaty) and share IP knowledge. WIPO also facilitates cooperation and capacity-building programmes to enable all member states to properly utilise IP and IP rights for economic, social and cultural development. Additionally, WIPO publishes the world’s leading reference materials for all things related to innovation and IP (such as the Global Innovation Index).
Last but not least, WIPO hosts policy forums to negotiate new international agreements, keep pace with new technologies and address emerging issues such as traditional knowledge and folklore and copyright in the digital environment.
We were also exposed to the growing challenges of multilateralism in the 21st century in policymaking. Through a hands-on exercise (as pictured below), participants became privier to the salient issue: the difficulty in achieving consensus amongst the numerous member states of WIPO (of which there are 192!). This is corollary of every country invariably acting in accordance with their own national interests.
Entering the WIPO Mediation and Arbitration Center
Subsequently, Ms. Chiara Accornero, an Associate Legal Officer in WIPO, introduced us to WIPO’s Arbitration and Mediation Center, which facilitates the resolution of commercial and intellectual property disputes between parties. Here, we learnt that costs, time-savings, and ease of enforceability were ranked the highest criteria amongst the key considerations for choosing alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”) as a mean to settle IP-related disputes. Other considerations include the quality of outcome, a neutral forum, and confidentiality of proceedings.
Chiara explained that due to the collaborative nature of IP-related transactions, the choice of ADR as a dispute resolution mechanism is manifestly advantageous as it confers expedient, cost-effective, and confidential mechanisms to resolve disputes and maintain cordial relations between the parties.
However, the main benefit of choosing WIPO’s Arbitration and Mediation Center is that WIPO, being an agency of the United Nations, is neutral: this assures that parties to an international dispute seeking a neutral forum can be assured that WIPO would not be biased in any way. WIPO also has a wide international network of professional mediators, arbitrators, and domain experts experienced in IP and IP disputes that it can tap on to ensure fairness in all the cases they see through!
IPSA’s inaugural study visit to WIPO was an insightful one into the functions, objectives and workings behind the renowned international IP organisation. IPSA would like to thank WIPO Singapore for graciously hosting IPSA’s members and alumni, and look forward to more collaborations with WIPO in the near future.