With A “Clean Slate,” WIPO Director Nominee Gurry Looks Ahead 06/03/2014 by Catherine Saez and William New, Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Incumbent Francis Gurry of Australia today was nominated to be the director general of the World Intellectual Property Organization until 2020, with WIPO members to make their final decision on 8 May. In his return to office, Gurry told reporters today he wants to focus on the digital marketplace, improving the organisation’s performance, changing geopolitics, and to steer journalists away from writing about allegations of wrongdoing at WIPO. IP-Watch reporting on the election results is here (IPW, WIPO, 6 March 2014). On plans for change in his second term, Gurry replied, “As I have said throughout the campaign, one of the areas that we would like to encourage the dialogue in the membership is the digital marketplace.” “The transition that we are ongoing at the moment from the analogue world to the digital environment is terribly important one,” he said. “Copyright is the major instrument for financing cultural production, and it is very important that we maintain the integrity of this instrument so that it can perform that function in the digital environment. So this is a dialogue that I would like to encourage on that path to a seamless legal road.” Gurry was asked whether he would take any lessons into his second term after having had competition from a variety of challengers for the election, indicating problems with his first term in some member states’ eyes. “The first thing is that democracy is alive and well, so that it is good and nobody can complain about that,” he said. “Obviously, I have listened to everything that everyone has said throughout the campaign. I mean the member states have taken a position on these matters too, let’s not forget.” “Over the next couple of months, I would intend to put in place a transition team and that transition team would be responsible, among other things, for looking at how we can improve the performance in the next six years,” he said. Trivia and IP Policy Gurry sought to steer journalists away from issues about his character and management, which he called trivial, and toward IP policy issues. Gurry was asked a tough question about investigations and allegations that have been raised about his leadership and treatment of staff, to which he replied: “What I would say is that first of all I am very disappointed with the media, because there are so many interesting and challenging issues in the field of IP and so many interesting things happening at the WIPO. So first of all I am disappointed that the media focusses on trivia rather than on substantive issues of innovation and cultural creation and the financing of cultural creation.” “I have not seen any allegation that is substantiated,” he said. “Every single allegation is a repetition of a previous allegation that is being made. So I have seen not only no allegations that have been substantiated but no new allegations.” “I suggest,” he added, “that those who are inclined to focus in those matters in the media, that they look at the very substantial challenges that we face in the economy for ensuring that we have a vibrant innovation ecosystem and a copyright system that functions in the digital environment.” And he said it not surprising that some member states have not been happy about every development. “I think success multilaterally is that everyone is equally unhappy and you strive to get to a situation where everyone is equally happy,” he said. “I think we got to that situation, that high point, after the Marrakesh Treaty [on copyright exceptions, agreed in June 2013]. As long as everyone is equally whatever it is, we are doing reasonably well.” Gurry stated that he made no deals for votes during his re-election campaign, saying that there is a “clean slate.” “I made a point, as always, of ensuring as far as I was concerned that this campaign was about two things: about being positive first of all and secondly that no promises or commitments were made to individuals or individual member states,” he said. “This is a multilateral organisation and I think it is very important to preserve that.” Changing Geopolitics Gurry also acknowledged that leading developing countries are gaining a higher profile in the organisation and its work as the IP environment faces dramatic changes, such as China becoming the third largest filer of patent applications, and an expected rise in consumption of copyrighted works. African countries as a group had declared their support for Nigerian candidate Geoffrey Onyeama, and in his withdrawal, a Nigerian delegate stressed that they hoped African would still “matter” to the organisation. “If there is any doubt, which I am sure there is not, let me just affirm that Africa of course matters,” Gurry said. “It’s 54 countries, it is a huge constituency of this organisation and the area of the world which has the highest economic growth rate. I think that Africa in the future will be increasingly looking towards value addition, and IP will become increasingly important for them, so there is no doubt that Africa matters.” Asked about Brazil, Gurry said the new head of the IP office there is “focussed on internal matters at the moment but I hope it won’t be too long before it turns to looking at external matters.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Catherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com.William New may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org."With A “Clean Slate,” WIPO Director Nominee Gurry Looks Ahead" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.