What does the World Intellectual Property Organization do?

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  • Written By: Soo Owens
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 15 January 2020
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In 1967 the international organization formally recognized as the United Nations devised and implemented the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to safeguard intellectual property from theft and undue credit. By extending a protective measure for creative and intellectual works, the United Nations seeks to promote innovative, intellectual activity and to provide an unfettered forum for its exchange. Within the setup of the United Nations, the World Intellectual Property Organization is considered a specialized agency.

The World Intellectual Property Organization was founded with the primary goal of intellectual property protection, which is upheld by a number of legal measures. As defined by the WIPO, intellectual properties are those original thoughts, concepts, and creations that an individual conceives and brings into development. Intellectual property spans various mediums from the artistic to the industrial. These new ideas and inventions are formally identified under one of two classifications as either works of industry or works of art and literature. Much of the WIPO's activities are concerned with such legal protections as trademarks, copyrights, patents, and industrial designs.


Participating nations in the World Intellectual Property Organization total 184. The WIPO's operations and activities depend largely on its members, and individuals from over 90 member nations work in the World Intellectual Property Organization in an administrative capacity. They may possess expertise in many relevant fields including law, public policy, and information technology, which they apply in their respective roles as staff members of the Secretariat, the managing body of the WIPO.

Known also as the International Bureau, the Secretariat accomplishes the brunt of WIPO's goals and tasks, overseeing their implementation and operation. The Secretariat ensures that meetings of WIPO bodies take place and that programs are carried out in accordance with guidelines. It also provides expert resources to those who seek advice on intellectual property. The World Intellectual Property Organization sets goals, and the Secretariat actualizes them.

Programs, treaties, and overall policies of the World Intellectual Property Organization are established by 19 WIPO bodies. Members gather in various assemblies, committees, and groups, each of which are designated to address specific topics on intellectual property, including trademarks, copyrights, technology, and more. Meetings are organized in Geneva, Switzerland, where the WIPO is headquartered, on a yearly basis.

An important component of the World Intellectual Property Organization is its comprehensive network of registered trademarks, designs, and patents. This system allows the WIPO to unify all its bases and provides an accessible database for cross checking inventions and creations to all nations. It also allows for a measure of accountability in the protection of intellectual property.


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