Beginning of 1999.
National Algerian Institute for Industrial Property (INAPI) HQ.
Almost six months had passed since the assembly that had gathered all member states the previous September, but Amor Bouhnik, Director General of the National Algerian Institute for Industrial Property, still could not get an idea out of his head. He was fully convinced that the sector was in need of an institutional and differentiating element. A referent to both insiders and outsiders of the IP world. In his opinion, establishing a frame that would bring more accessibility to innovation’s promotion and that, at the same time, could serve as a celebration and meeting point to the goals achieved by inventors from all around the world was essential.
On April 7th, 1999, he captured his proposal about establishing a World Intellectual Property Day on a letter, which he later addressed to Kamil Idris, WIPO’s then-Director, for his consideration.
Jiang Ying, member of the WIPO’s Chinese deputation, took up the baton a few months later, right when she decided to write her own missive in August. Mr. Idris was, again, the recipient. The new text not only backed Amor Bouhnik’s point of view but, also, expanded the Algerian’s initial idea by standing up for the protection and expansion of Intellectual Property’s influence globally.
For the recipe to be hundred per cent effective, Mrs. Ying dedicated some lines to all countries concerned, as guidelines, to encourage them to insist on the advertising and diffusion of procedures created to protect inventions and, also, developing new IP laws and regulations. The letter highlighted the relevance of following the mentioned steps to the T. This would be the only way for member countries to secure the foundations of a new era for the sector. A brand new era that would raise public awareness about IP rights, stimulate invention and innovation, and reinforce the exchange of knowledge related to Intellectual Property among countries.
The messages made an impression on Kamal Idris, and, therefore, within the WIPO’s core, who ended up greenlighting the idea on the General Assembly that took place in October 1999. The millennium finished with the approval of the World Intellectual Property Day.
In order to find the most suitable place on the calendar, all parties involved dug into the organization’s archives until the perfect date was found…
July 14th, 1967.
Swedish Parliament Chambers.
Finally, all those present got some peace of mind. It was almost unbelievable to all of them, but it was true. A deal had been made. The signature had put to an end to five weeks of tedious debates, negotiations and endless walks through the Swedish Parliament’s corridors.
The multilateral treaty was considered as an heir to the role played by the BIRPIs (United International Bureaux for the Protection of Intellectual Property), that had, since 1893, administrated the resolutions adopted at the Conventions held at Paris (1883) and Bern (1886).
Nevertheless, its influences went beyond.The effort made by those specialists had managed to unite and include, in the brand new sections and clauses, the regulations that had previously appeared in other public manifestos, and that were related to events and/or organizations such as IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions), from 1927; the Rome Convention for Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations, from 1928; or the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, from 1966. Art. 15 from the latter (which is a revisited version of Art.27.2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), was taken into a deep consideration as it declares that:
“everyone has the right to benefit from the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author”.
After taking all those strong references as a base, important updates were added straightaway, such as giving absolute control to the member states for all IP management and procedures. Another fact worth mentioning is the organization’s opening to a new era of multilingualism, which involved standardizing the use of Spanish and Russian for all types of documents- placing them at the same level as French and English.
The WIPO had been born. And came into force on April 26th 1970. Just a few imagined how progressive and true to the times (specially, to technology advances) it would become, nor the corporate actions that would derive from it…
End of 1999.
Considering the relevance and symbolism brought by such historical precedent, the internationalization manoeuvre had found the right date. In fact, it almost was an obligation to proclaim April 26th as Word Intellectual Property Day. The year 2000 saw the first global commemoration of “the impact that patents, trademarks and designs have in our daily lives and our duty to celebrate the creativity and contribution made by inventors which enable progress of all societies on this planet”, as WIPO stated.
From 2001 on, an incentive was added to the celebration. A theme was assigned to each event to increase visibility and make it more attractive to the mainstream. For that reason, the IP world joined forces with other fields such as cinema (2014), music (2015) or sports (2019). The latter, in Spain, was supported by national institutions as the Sports Superior Council, the Author Institute and the Ministry of Culture.
The theme for 2020 has a strong eco-friendly flavour, with “Innovate for a Green Future” as its promotional motto. It is a clear attempt to raise awareness about the need for creating and inventing in a sustainable way and showing respect to our planet, currently so defined by climate change. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the WIPO has been forced to cancel all scheduled events and activities in all its member countries, which ranged from live concerts, free seminars and college competitions to exhibitions at museums and schools. To make up for the setback produced by the coronavirus pandemic, the organization has developed a series of suggestions for all interested to be able to take part in this virtual celebration.
Word Intellectual Property Day welcomes a new decade displaying great vitality and popularity. The best evidence of this good shape is the huge reception and influence that this event gets year after year. Perhaps, any of this would have been possible without the WIPO (that turns 50 this year) watching its back, but one thing is for sure: this event has something special, because even its detractors have it marked on their calendars.
Happy World Intellectual Property Day!