Promoting and Extending the
Reach of Intellectual Property:
The World Intellectual Property
Maria Julia Oliva
The TRIPS Agreement was the first international instrument to introduce minimum
standards for intellectual property (IP) protection at the global level, but – even before the
WTO was established – WIPO agreements and activities were critical in shaping IP protec
tion. WIPO is even more significant now, with ongoing discussions and negotiations
representing the tension between efforts to increase levels of international IP protection and
efforts to balance IP protection with other public policy objectives. In addition, WIPO has a
key role in the dynamic of the shifting and cross-cutting negotiation of IP issues in a variety of
fora. Not only is WIPO closely linked to the implementation of the TRIPS Agreement, for
example, but WIPO treaties are also increasingly included in a number of bilateral trade
agreements. This chapter examines the origins and activities of WIPO and how its work
relates to the concerns about IP and biodiversity, food and other aspects of sustainable develop
ment, including traditional knowledge.
Its first predecessor, the Bureaux Internationaux Réunis pour la Protection de la Propriété Intellectuelle (BIRPI – the United International Bureaux for the Protection of Intellectual Property), was created in 1893 to administer the Berne and Paris Conventions, but the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has been – until recently – little known and understood outside intellectual property (IP) offices. Its broad range of norm setting, administrative and technical assistance activities, however, fundamentally affect IP rules at both the international and national levels. As a result, and given a growing acknowledgement of the links between IP and sustainable development, awareness of the relevance of WIPO is increasing.
As the international IP regime expands to
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Publication information: Book title: The Future Control of Food: A Guide to International Negotiations and Rules on Intellectual Property, Biodiversity, and Food Security. Contributors: Geoff Tansey - Editor, Tasmin Rajotte - Editor. Publisher: International Development Research Centre. Place of publication: Ottawa. Publication year: 2008. Page number: 69.
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