World Intellectual Property Organization

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

World Intellectual Property Organization

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), specialized agency of the United Nations, with headquarters at Geneva. WIPO became an agency in 1974, but its roots go back to 1883 when the need for international protection of intellectual property prompted the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property and to 1886 with the Bern Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. Both conventions created international bureaus, which merged (1893) to become the United International Bureaux for the Protection of Intellectual Property (BIRPI). In 1960, BIRPI moved from Bern to Geneva and a decade later it became WIPO. Today's organization administers intellectual property matters recognized by United Nations member states, managing international treaties that deal with some aspect of intellectual property protection. WIPO also assists governments, organizations, and the private sector in monitoring developments in the field. It not only helps to protect such traditional works of the mind as patented inventions, books, music, works of art, films, industrial designs, and trademarks, but is increasingly involved in the protection of information technology and World Wide Web–related matters. WIPO has 184 member nations.

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