Asia Pacific Bureau: Highlights of Activities
WIPO's economic development program in Asia and the Pacific covers a region which represents over 60% of the world?s population. The program covers 38 developing countries, with diverse social, political and legal systems and at different stages of economic development as well as development of intellectual property systems. For many years, WIPO has been providing country-specific and tailor-made technical assistance to the developing and least developed countries in this region based on their specific country situations and needs.
After laying the foundation for IP administrations to operate effectively through appropriate legal and institutional measures in a number of countries, technical assistance is witnessing a progressive movement towards initiatives directed at maximizing the use of IP as a tool for economic, social and cultural development. How to utilize IP rights as a public policy tool with broad economic possibilities of contributing to a culture of innovation and creativity, and to wealth creation, technology transfer, trade and investment facilitation as well as employment generation has become a major concern. This trend manifests itself in activities along the following themes:
- IP policy and strategy related activities
- Promotion of innovation and transfer of technology
- Creating value from IP through licensing and other business opportunities
- Promoting copyright and related rights, particularly their economic value
- Strategic use of IP in business
Nevertheless, activities along the traditional themes continue, i.e.:
The development of IP policies and strategies that would provide impetus to and support the creation, accumulation and exploitation of IP as economic assets is a necessary foundation that would enable the effective use of the IP system for economic growth and development, thus the major effort to raise awareness within the region, through regional and national policy meetings and workshops . Through these meetings, the Bureau also provides a forum for focused discussions and analysis of key IP issues and their policy dimensions, such as IP and transfer of technology, public health, the Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), traditional knowledge and folklore, e-commerce and Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
Coupled with efforts to promote the use of the IP system by SMEs are efforts aimed at stimulating creativity, inventiveness and innovation, oriented in particular to inventors and creators, and universities and R&D institutions. Seminars and workshops on themes relating to the management of IP and innovation, and the importance of patent information to universities and R&D institutions are being carried out to raise the level of awareness on the advantages of using the IP system and thus harness the inventive and creative potential in these sectors towards value generating activities. Studies aimed at analyzing ways in which the IP system could impact more positively on creators, inventors, innovators and universities and R&D institutions are also being embarked in such as in the Philippines. A study on The Role of the Industrial Property System in Technological Development was undertaken in the Republic of Korea, while a project for the development of university-industry partnerships for the promotion of innovation and transfer of technology is being piloted in China, India, the Philippines, Republic of Korea, Thailand and Singapore.
Intellectual property rights makes practical sense when it can be the source of economic rewards. Creating value from IP through various business arrangements such as licensing, cross-licensing and other business alliances is therefore a major effort to be inculcated to the creators and generators of IP, be they universities, R&D institutions, SMEs or specific industries such as the music industry, the publishing industry and the like. In August 2004, a pioneering effort was undertaken in this direction through a Singapore-WIPO Joint Training Course on Creating Value from Works in the Music Industry.
Promoting a deeper understanding of the critical role of copyright-based industries to the economy as well as to specific sectors falls in line with the overarching goal of promoting the use of IP as a tool for economic development. This was the thrust of ongoing studies in Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore that aims to analyze systematically the contribution of copyright-based industries to the economies of these countries based on national turnover, employment and foreign trade. The latter two studies are based on the WIPO Methodology on Measuring the Economic Contribution of Copyright-based Industries. In addition, meetings and seminars are organized at the national, sub-regional and regional levels to discuss current copyright and related rights issues relating to policy, strategy, enforcement and public awareness, balancing of rightholders' and consumers' rights and obligations, and the impact of the digital environment, and generally with a broad range of national and regional stakeholders. The role of collective management organizations (CMOs) in promoting the rights and interests of creators of copyright and related rights and in the process stimulating the growth of these industries is also emphasized in activities aimed at promoting the setting up of national CMOs in countries where they do not exist and strengthening those CMOs which already exist, primarily through expert advisory missions and training.
Given the role of enterprises and industry as engines of growth in any economy, the strategic use of IP in business was a major thematic focus with special emphasis being given to the empowerment of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). These activities take the form of
(i) national and regional meetings and workshops on the use of IP for SME competitiveness and growth, including commercialization of IP assets by SMEs;
(ii) preparation of national studies (Mongolia and the Philippines) that aim to review and analyze the use of IP by SMEs, and in the process of such review, document successful cases. These studies likewise aim to derive policy recommendations on how IP can be incorporated in the mainstream of SME promotion programs of SME institutions in these countries; and
(iii) sustainable IP awareness, promotional and educational programs geared to the IP related needs of SMEs such in the case of Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka, and the preparation of information and promotional materials for SMEs, including the customization of WIPO Guides for SMEs.
At the request of the Association of South East Asian (ASEAN) countries, a study is being undertaken on the feasibility of establishing a network of business development service (BDS) hubs to service the IP related business development service needs of ASEAN enterprises as well as ASEAN inventors, universities and R&D institutions. This follows one of the recommendations of the Study on the Use of Intellectual Property as a Tool for the Economic Growth of the ASEAN Countries prepared by WIPO in 2002 which proposed that ASEAN look into the possibility of creating ASEAN regional network(s) from universities and R&D centers, and other IP related institutions with the view to stimulating and promoting IP asset creation among the ASEAN countries, enhancing further research and inventive activity, attracting venture financing, foreign investments, IP-based joint ventures and licensing transactions and opening up opportunities for regional collaboration, cooperation and synergy.
Supporting Intellectual Property Offices (IPOs) in modernizing legislation to conform with international treaty obligations and streamlining IP administration systems for greater efficiency and improved service delivery continue to be extended to countries upon request. Institution building measures, the use of information technology, training and expert advisory missions are the usual components which are implemented through Nationally Focused Action Plans (NFAPs) or country projects. Most of the countries in the Asia Pacific region have, at one point or another, had access to NFAPs or country projects. At present, projects are ongoing in Bangladesh, Cambodia and Pakistan.
Building capacities for public outreach remains an important area of work. IPOs need to have the capacity and the facilities to deliver the message of IP as a tool for economic, social and cultural development to various users of the IP system, such as SMEs, universities and R&D institutions, as well as consumers of IP-based products and services. Major effort has been undertaken in many countries in the region to customize existing WIPO promotional and information materials to suit national audiences. A CD-ROM on IP and SMEs for SAARC countries has been produced, as well as various translations of WIPO products for Bhutan, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam. Added to these are national and regional seminars and workshops focusing on this theme.
Significant work continue to be undertaken in creating greater awareness and understanding on the benefits to the IP community of the existing facilities that allow for wider protection of industrial property rights through simple, efficient and cost-effective systems. These activities are undertaken at the national, sub-regional and regional levels.