Spicy IP Tidbit: WIPO’s Innovation Division falling victim to Budget-cut?

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A few years back, an innovation division had been set up by WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization), which was the brainchild of the incumbent Deputy Director General Pooley and was spearheaded by several prominent U.S. patent attorneys. Unlike most of WIPO’s activities, this went relatively unnoticed, devoid of much media exposure or publicity. However, the possible death-knell has perhaps been sounded for this young venture, if one is to believe a recent joint letter sent on July 2, 2013 by the U.S. industry interest groups of the likes of the Emergency Committee for American Trade, the National Foreign Trade Council and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to the U.S. policymakers like the Secretary of State, the U.S. Trade Representative and the head of the USPTO.
The letter indicates that the Director General of WIPO has proposed the de facto elimination of the entire innovation division by way of a budget cut in 2014-15. If this is effected, the letters voices the possibility that WIPO’s ability to deliver cost-effective IP services to small and medium enterprises, university technology transfer offices and officials seeking to support innovators through the creation of supportive innovation ecosystems will be considerably compromised. Policy-framers are supposed to inquire into the objective evidence accounting for the successes and failures of the division sometime this year, with new elections for WIPO-offices scheduled for the next year. The jury still seems to be out on whether the innovation division is actually able to deliver such cost-effective services.
Meanwhile, a few pertinent questions that have already been raised include whether it is within WIPO’s mission purview to extend such help to SMEs and TTOs and individual inventors and even if such is the case, what exactly can WIPO do that other national or regional governmental and non-governmental organizations cannot in this regard. Given that the next WIPO budget is soon to be debated in the coming week in Geneva and according to sources, it has no fund allocated for the innovation division, it seems highly likely that this WIPO initiative is on its very last legs.

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