Saying it has made "a major shift in priorities and direction" since its last meeting two years ago, a committee on development in the United Nations agency on intellectual property rights says developing countries must devise policies and strategies that turn their traditional knowledge, healing arts and culture into national assets.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) says it is holding meetings this month and next to respond to a decision by its General Assembly last October that the body "incorporate the development dimension in WIPO's various activities."
A review prepared for a two-day meeting of the WIPO Permanent Committee on Cooperation for Development Related to Intellectual Property (PCIPD), starting today, says the panel's aim is to help developing countries reach their goal of building a knowledge-based economy.
"Intellectual property becomes a tool for economic development when it is used in the context of well-articulated national, regional or enterprise-based strategies, to encourage and support innovation and creativity," it says, adding, "A policy to support intellectual property that does not support funding for science is not likely to be successful in terms of economic gains."
The Permanent Committee also now helps developing countries find ways to support cultural, educational and research institutions in the public and private sectors.
"WIPO will assist and support such specialized institutions in developing and implementing appropriate intellectual property policies, so that they can protect, mange and exploit their research results and other valuable, though intangible, assets," the Committee says.
WIPO has initiated projects to help developing countries effectively link research by specially identified publicly funded research institutions to business priorities, it says.
"Moreover, incentives are suggested for scientists in public research institutions to commercialize their research and create synergies through networks between research institutions in both developing and developed countries," it adds.
In addition, WIPO will help developing countries which have been successful in using their intellectual property rights (IPRs) to share such experiences with others as "a valuable tool to enable countries and institutions to conduct their own intellectual property mapping exercises and to prepare blueprints."