The deadline for nominating candidates for the position of Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization is fast approaching. The last day to nominate a candidate is Friday, December 6, 2013. Currently there are only three candidates nominated, they are: (1) Francis Gurry, the current Director General of WIPO; (2) Geoffrey Onyeama, who grew up in England, was educated at Oxford and is the current Deputy Director General of WIPO for the Development Sector; and (3) Ambassador Alfredo Suescum, a U.S. educated lawyer who has served as Ambassador to the United Nations on behalf of Panama, as well as holding numerous other diplomatic posts. Suescum is currently Chairman of the TRIPS Council in the World Trade Organization (WTO).
In what should otherwise be a relatively benign news story, the election of the next Director General of WIPO is taking on a life almost of its own. Over the last several administrations WIPO has been plagued with scandals. For example, Kamil Idris, Director General of WIPO from from 1997 to 2008, was forced to step down a year early from the position due to allegations of misconduct.
When Idris was under attack, then U.S. Ambassador Warren Tichenor, was quoted in the New York Times as follows: “The member states and the employees of WIPO deserve to have an organization that is led with the highest professional and ethical standards…” In a 2008 interview published in Managing IP, Roland Grossenbacher, then chairman of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organization, explained: “WIPO is in a very, very difficult situation right now and needs someone willing and capable over the next years, to handle the operational business, not by rhetoric but by action. That includes effective technical cooperation with developing countries. Sound operational management has been lost under the leadership of Kamil Idris but it has to be restored.”
Mary Kissel, a Wall Street Journal Editorial Board Member, asked a simple question in this video segment of Fox News Editor-at Large George Russell: Why is Australia re-nominating Francis Gurry to head WIPO? Frankly, this is an excellent question. One might also ask why the Obama Administration has failed to back an alternative candidate despite being implored to do so by Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle?
A source with knowledge close to the situation has also told me that “there will be other shoes to drop; the DNA episode is not the last.”
To the outside world Gurry is affable, knowledgeable and a perfect ambassador of the benefits of intellectual property. Internally, however, he hides things and fosters conflict so that he can rise to the moment and come to the rescue. Indeed, aside from the various scandals WIPO appears to be an extremely dysfunctional workplace, which can only hinder the mission.
UPDATED 2: Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013 at 9:20pm Eastern.
Francis Gurry, the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), finds himself in a precarious position this week as news has surfaced about a bizarre and presumably illegal acquisition of DNA samples from WIPO employees. Gurry has already been under pressure from Member States because he has been unable to pass a budget for WIPO, which many attribute to being uncomfortable with the cozy relationship seen between Gurry and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Gurry signed a deal to set up a WIPO office in Moscow, which reportedly has rubbed at least some Member States the wrong way.
While Member States may be unhappy about Gurry’s ties to Putin, the newly uncovered DNA scandal raises serious questions and could potentially lead to Gurry’s undoing. Already calls are being made for him to be removed from his post.
In the meantime, there is important business to be done by WIPO.
Kicking off the 51st meeting of Member States, Gurry took the opportunity to both look back and look forward with his address to the WIPO Assemblies. Gurry told the audience that “[t]he twelve months since the last Assemblies have seen many positive results for the Organization.” He would go on to point out that global IP systems continue to remain strong, saying: “the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), the Madrid System for the international registration of marks and the Hague System for the international registration of designs, continued to experience growth levels that out-perform the world economy.” Gurry also discussed the continued progress being made relative to technical systems that connect the IP Offices of Member States.
WIPO Director General Francis Gurry (Photo: WIPO/E.Berrod)
Earlier today the Fifty-First Series of Meetings of the Assemblies of the Member States of World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) began in Geneva, Switzerland, and will run through October 2, 2013. This meeting of Member States comes at a time of internal unrest for WIPO. On September 19, 2013 several members of the House Subcommittee on Intellectual Property wrote a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry urging the U.S. government to oppose the re-election of WIPO Director General Francis Gurry who is serving the final year of his first six-year term.
Mexico’s Secretary of Economy Bruno Ferrari and Director General Francis Gurry (Photo: WIPO/Berrod)
Mexico’s Secretary of Economy Bruno Ferrari deposited his country’s instrument of accession to the Madrid Protocol for the International Registration of Marks with WIPO Director General Francis Gurry on November 19, 2012, bringing the total number of members of the international trademark system to 89. The treaty will enter into force with respect to Mexico on February 19, 2013. The Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks (Madrid system) offers trademark owners a cost effective, user friendly and streamlined means of protecting and managing their trademark portfolio internationally.
Mr. Gurry welcomed Mexico’s accession, noting that “Mexico is the third country in the Latin American region to join the Madrid trademark filing system. Its accession to the Madrid Protocol will assist enterprises in Mexico that are seeking to expand their markets overseas. It will also assist WIPO in achieving its objective of transforming the Madrid System into a system with truly global reach.” He also congratulated Mexico’s Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI) and its Director General, Dr. Rodrigo Roque, for putting in place state-of-the-art practices that are supported by a modern information technology infrastructure and by competent human resources. Mr. Gurry said that “Mexico’s legal and institutional framework will guarantee the successful implementation of the Madrid Protocol in Mexico,” noting that IMPI is among the top fifteen IP offices receiving the highest number of trademark applications worldwide.
The 50th session of Assemblies of WIPO member statesreached a breakthrough decision on how to complete negotiations on a pact to improve access to copyrighted works for the many visually impaired or print disabled people around the world.
In another significant decision, WIPO’s 185 member states agreed to expedite work towards a design law treaty to develop simplified standards for industrial design registration procedures.
The WIPO Assemblies, which met from October 1-9, 2012, took stock of the Organization’s substantive work over the last year, and provided direction for the future work program. At the closing of the Assemblies, WIPO Director General Francis Gurry welcomed the “extremely constructive engagement of member states” in the work of the Organization as demonstrated in the decisions taken by the Assemblies. He underlined the progress made by member states in setting timetables for concluding negotiations on international instruments on access to copyrighted work by the visually impaired, design law and intellectual property and genetic resources, traditional knowledge and folklore.
Typically blog roll links are not helpful to a website's rank. To give some additional "link love" to those we think you might be interested in reading we have moved our blog roll and links to a dedicated page. Go to IPWatchdog Blog Roll & Links.