Source: World Trade Organisation
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Good morning, Good afternoon, Good evening – I trust you are well and safe.
I am honoured to join you for this opening of the First Online Edition of the AIPPI World Congress. AIPPI World Congresses always bring together leading IP professionals from around the world for intense debate and exchange on current issues in the field of IP. Throughout our longstanding partnership with AIPPI, the WTO has had the opportunity to contribute to, and to benefit from, these events that discuss many themes directly related to IP and Trade. The rich programme expecting you over the next 9 days will be no different, and I congratulate the organizers for having put it together.
We are very fortunate to be here today, and to have the leadership and technology to organize this Congress. As I was preparing for this event, I reflected on the blend of intellectual property and trade that allows us to reach each other: from the design of the camera in front of me – its trademark, patents and copyrights – to the telecom and business services used to stream this video to your screen.
Intellectual property is embedded in our lives. Creations and inventions spark the development of new products and services; which can generate business opportunities, jobs, and economic growth. We know that intellectual property is an important component of global value chains. WTO research shows that, for example, 91% of the price of a man’s jacket is linked to intangible assets, of which intellectual property rights are an important component.
Over the last 30 years, trade in goods and services with high intellectual property content has grown exponentially. Statistics from the International Monetary Fund show that payments for the use of intellectual property rights increased by 1725%, from 24 billion US Dollars in 1990 to 438 billion in 2019. This increase greatly surpasses the rate of growth in conventional trade in goods – and thereby illustrates the success of trade in IP.
Technology, economic integration, and consumer preferences continue to transform trade and the world economy must react to shocks like the current pandemic. But history shows us that situations like the COVID-19 pandemic ultimately make us leap forward and adapt; and that having clear rules enhances international cooperation.
Since 1995, the WTO System has provided the certainty and predictability that businesses require to operate. In the intellectual property arena, the TRIPS Agreement provides for a level playing field of IP standards while maintaining flexibility for national implementation systems. Even today, we can see how use of the IP system steadily increases when new Members accede to the WTO. Data from countries like Cambodia, Viet Nam and the Seychelles – who have all joined since 2004 – illustrates, for instance, a steady rise in patent applications.
The TRIPS Agreement remains the most comprehensive multilateral agreement on intellectual property, and it is the first WTO Agreement to be amended in response to public health concerns. The Amended TRIPS Agreement entered into force in January 2017, creating an additional legal pathway for access to affordable generic medicines for countries in need. The 2001 Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health is the basis for policy coherence and practical cooperation, which is now evident in the global responses to COVID-19.
This year marks the 25th Anniversary of the creation of the WTO. It is an opportunity for reflection, and for forward thinking. The WTO System has successfully provided the foundation for market access for goods and services, and for the protection of intellectual property among virtually all trading nations of the world. Now we need to meet global challenges and respond to them in a balanced, sustainable and effective manner.
Eight of the seventeen United Nations Sustainable Development Goals illustrate in a concrete manner how the intellectual property system and trade together contribute to fostering innovation; eradicating hunger; and to good health and well-being.
Effective responses to these challenges are based on multidisciplinary work, and mutual understanding. At the WTO, we work closely with the World Intellectual Property Organization and the World Health Organization. In July, we launched the Second Edition of the Trilateral Study on Promoting Access to Medical Technologies and Innovation. The Study takes a holistic approach, including all policy dimensions related to health, and provides a valuable resource for policy design in this important area. I invite you to download it from the WTO website.
WTO and AIPPI have a long-standing and fruitful collaboration. AIPPI has brought contemporary topics to the WTO Public Forum, such as the well-attended session on New Digital Technologies, last year. We have also mutually benefited from educational opportunities and discussions. More recently, AIPPI and the WTO joined forces to develop a database on TRIPS case law. effectively illustrating the transformative effect of TRIPS implementation, not only in the grant of IP rights across the globe, but also in their effective enforcement. The contributions of AIPPI members all over the world will be instrumental to map developments in different jurisdictions and assess their potential effect in the international system. We look forward to continuing working with AIPPI to improve our understanding of the role played by the intellectual property system in the global economy.
The value of this partnership is greater than ever, at a time when there are serious questions being posed about the relevance and the utility of the multilateral system. We know that AIPPI members use and benefit from the multilateral IP system thousands of times literally every working day as applications are filed and prosecuted in WTO Members across the globe.
As we mark the 25th anniversary of the entry into force of the TRIPS Agreement, there is a risk that we may overlook or take for granted the fundamental, far‑reaching improvement of the legal, administrative and enforcement foundations of IP rights that was brought about by implementation of the TRIPS Agreement in over 130 jurisdictions across the globe.
The system is not perfect; and there is plenty more work that can and should be done. But it is certainly appropriate to contrast today’s global IP system with the one that existed in 1986, when the TRIPS negotiations were launched. We should recognize the massive investment in legislative, institutional and professional development that countries across the globe have undertaken to implement TRIPS standards. And we should acknowledge the remarkable possibilities this has opened for creators, innovators and companies across the globe, at a time when the knowledge component of development is recognized as being of paramount importance.
I would like to invite AIPPI, as a trusted professional voice – with the credibility that flows from practical experience – to underscore the enduring significance and value of the multilateral IP system underpinned by TRIPS, that enables the knowledge economy to thrive today.
I would once again like to congratulate the President of AIPPI, Ms Renata RIGHETTI, and her team for organizing this important event. I wish you a successful Congress – and I hope that your discussions spark ideas that will help respond to current and future challenges.
Thank you very much.