WIPO: Innovation, creativity and development go hand in hand

WIPO: Innovation, creativity and development go hand in hand

2012/3/26

Innovation is the space between a problem and its solution.

A balanced intellectual property (IP) system plays a vital role in that space. Working with its 185 member states, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) supports global investment in knowledge creation through the development of a robust and sustainable IP system, one that strikes an appropriate balance between the needs and interests of innovators, investors and society. Such a system fosters further innovation, and its diffusion, in a way that benefits society at large.

IP is an indispensable mechanism for translating knowledge into commercial assets. IP rights create a secure environment for investment in innovation and provide a legal framework for trading in intellectual assets. An investment in knowledge creation, and the maintenance of a robust and balanced IP system should feature prominently in any strategy to ensure sustainable economic growth.

There is of course a need to ensure that the IP system safeguards the interests of all IP stakeholders - including developing countries - and that it continues to serve the public good. Indeed, this is a constant challenge for WIPO and its constituents. The international IP system must be able to deliver tangible benefit to all countries, irrespective of where they fall on the spectrum of technological or economic development. The reality for a global organization like WIPO, with its broad membership, is that it must be fully able to serve all of them.

Key tool

It is important to bear in mind that the IP system is a key tool for stimulating and disseminating innovation and creativity, for countering unfair competition and for contributing to market order. The debates and discussions at WIPO are ultimately about how the system can best serve these underlying principles, from which all countries stand to benefit.

Copyright, which is the central mechanism to ensure that we continue to enjoy a vibrant culture, is in desperate need for reform and alignment with the realities of the digital age. It is clear that there is no single magical answer to the development of a successful policy response to the challenges facing copyright in the digital age: It requires a combination of law, infrastructure, cultural change, institutional collaboration and better business models. It is up to our member states to craft responses to the central questions facing the evolution of copyright policy - above all: how to maintain a balance between availability of cultural works at affordable prices while assuring a dignified economic existence for creators and performers. There is, in any case, no other choice - either the copyright system adapts to the natural advantage that has evolved through the advent of digital technologies or it will perish.

Thai contribution

A member of WIPO since 1989, Thailand continues to make an important and positive contribution to the on-going exploration of how to further improve different aspects of the international IP system and to influence the future evolution of the IP landscape. To encourage creativity, the Royal Government of Thailand launched in August 2008 the Creative Thailand Project. This project is aimed at enhancing the economic contribution by creative industries to the national economy. The rich Thai artistic and aesthetic traditions, coupled with astute use of the copyright system, could enhance the value of Thai products and services.

Thailand is also rich in traditional knowledge, biodiversity and folklore and has a direct stake in improving the interface between IP and these cultural and economic resources. Thailand has enacted national legislation on the protection of traditional medical wisdom and, internationally, is an active and constructive participant in WIPO's negotiations on IP and traditional knowledge, folklore and genetic resources. Thailand’s experts have played leading roles in this process.

The current international system for protecting IP was fashioned during the age of industrialization in the West and developed subsequently in line with the perceived needs of technologically advanced societies. However, in recent years, local communities and governments mainly in developing countries have demanded equivalent protection for folklore and traditional knowledge systems. As for all countries, the challenge for Thailand is to balance the preservation of its wealth of traditional cultures and biodiversity, and respect for its local communities, with the quest for innovation and creativity and resulting technological and economic development.

In 2000, WIPO members established the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore, and in 2009 they agreed to develop an "international legal instrument" (or instruments) that would give traditional knowledge, genetic resources and traditional cultural expressions (folklore) effective protection. I am pleased that these discussions are advancing and I welcome Thailand’s strong interest in contributing to a balanced and concrete outcome in this process.

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej is a powerful inspiration for all Thais to create and innovate. In January 2009, I had the pleasure and honor to confer on His Majesty the WIPO Global Leader Award in recognition of his extraordinary commitment to promoting intellectual property and his important contribution to society as a prolific inventor. Through his own creative and innovative endeavor, His Majesty, also known as the "Father of Thai Innovation," has not only demonstrated the power of IP to enrich and enhance the quality of daily life and work but has also encouraged people everywhere to create, respect and protect it.

HM's words

The King of Thailand is an acclaimed artist with a portfolio of over 1,000 works, including paintings, photos, musical and literary works. He is also an accomplished inventor holding over 20 patents and 19 trademarks. Many of the inventions have generated concrete and practical benefits for rural communities in Thailand. His Majesty the King is also a strong advocate of intellectual property rights. In one of his speeches, the King said "Intellectual property has existed for a long time. Patents and copyrights are very important intellectual property rights. In 1957, it was said that imitation of foreign items would provide greater benefits than registration of patents, since we could make use of foreign inventions without paying for patents. Such a saying is wrong and considered an insult to Thai people."

Thailand is an invaluable partner for WIPO and has an important role to play in ensuring that the IP system continues to be of relevance in the 21st century as a mechanism to support all countries, in promoting social, economic and cultural development. In today's economically challenging and highly competitive world, a commitment to research and development, to educational excellence and to innovation is a requirement for securing an advantage in the marketplace.

(Source: The Nation)




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