World Intellectual Property Organization

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations, located in Geneva, Switzerland. WIPO’s mission is to lead the development of a balanced and effective international intellectual property (IP) system that enables innovation and creativity for the benefit of all. Established by the WIPO Convention in 1967, WIPO currently has 193 member states and provides a global policy forum, where governments, intergovernmental organizations, industry groups and civil society come together to address evolving IP issues. WIPO member states and observers meet regularly in a variety of standing committees and working groups. In these bodies, members negotiate the changes and new rules needed to ensure that the international IP system keeps pace with the changing world, and continues to serve its fundamental purpose of encouraging innovation and creativity. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) regularly represents the U.S. government in these bodies in order to further U.S. IP policy, enhance the international framework administered by WIPO, and improve IP systems generally.

Notable WIPO principal committees

The Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP) was created in 1998 to serve as a forum to discuss issues, facilitate coordination, and provide guidance concerning the progressive international development of patent law. By dealing with clusters of interlocking issues rather than working in isolation on single issues, it is intended to provide member states with an effective mechanism for setting priorities and allocating resources, and ensure the coordination and continuity of interrelated, ongoing work.

The Standing Committee on the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications (SCT) was created in 1998 to serve as a forum to discuss issues, facilitate coordination, and provide guidance on the progressive development of international law on trademarks, industrial designs, and geographical indications, including the harmonization of national laws and procedures.

The Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP) was established by the WIPO General Assembly in 2008 to develop a work program for implementing proposals adopted by the WIPO General Assembly. The CDIP is also mandated to monitor, assess, discuss, and report on the implementation of all recommendations adopted by the General Assembly, by coordinating with relevant WIPO bodies, and to discuss IP and development-related issues as agreed by the committee and decided by the General Assembly.

The Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) undertakes text-based negotiations to finalize an agreement on international legal instruments for the protection of traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expressions, and genetic resources.

Notable WIPO working groups

The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) Working Group was established by the PCT Assembly to do preparatory work for matters which require submission to the PCT Assembly. Most commonly, this involves proposals for amendment of the regulations under the PCT, but may include a wide variety of matters of interest to the PCT Assembly.

The Working Group on the Legal Development of the Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs (the “Hague Working Group”) meets annually and focuses on to identifying and improving operational efficiencies and improvements to user experiences. Among other things, The Hague Working Group considers and develops recommendations for continued updating and modernization of the Hague System through updates to the Common Regulations, Administrative Instructions, and associated practice of the International Register.