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UN intellectual property agency urges better access to markets for developing-countries

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry.
WIPO/Emmanuel Berrod
WIPO Director General Francis Gurry.

UN intellectual property agency urges better access to markets for developing-countries

The United Nations agency charged with protecting inventions, trademarks, industrial designs and copyright called today for better linkages between creators in developing countries and online marketplaces to more-easily reach audiences beyond their borders.

“The developing world has traditionally been rich in content and poor in distribution,” said Francis Gurry, Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). “It’s home to some of the finest creators and performers in the world, but the opportunities for these creators and performers to get their works and performances into global markets have been limited.”

“There is an unprecedented opportunity in these developments for making the developing and least developed countries part of the global digital marketplace,” Mr. Gurry told delegates from WIPO’s 186 member States at the opening of the organization’s annual two-week meeting.

In his speech, the Director General also highlighted a proposed design-law treaty that would provide simpler and easier to access procedures for protecting designs as a priority area for the organization.

He also stressed a “way forward for the shared objective of providing effective protection for traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expressions and intellectual property in relation to genetic resources.”

Looking back on the past year, Mr. Gurry noted the passage of the Marrakesh Treaty as a “highlight” for Geneva-based WIPO and its membership.

The landmark copyright treaty, approved in Morocco after more than a week of intense debate among negotiators meeting under WIPO auspices, was the culmination of years of work on improving access for the blind, visually impaired, and print-disabled persons to published works in formats such as Braille, large print text and audio books.

Music icon Stevie Wonder had appealed to more than 600 forum negotiators from 186 countries to finalize the treaty called the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons who are Blind, Visually Impaired, or otherwise Print Disabled. It requires parties to adopt national law provisions that permit the reproduction, distribution and making available published works in accessible formats without having to seek permission from copyright holders in each case.

It also allows the exchange of accessible format works across borders by organizations that serve people who are blind, visually impaired, and print disabled.

The treaty also ensures authors and publishers that the system will not expose their published works to misuse or distribution to anyone other than the intended beneficiaries.