IP-Watch Spotlight: WIPO Lex, Database Of Global IP Systems

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WIPO Lex is a publicly available online database under the World Intellectual Property Organization providing streamlined access to the intellectual property systems of almost 200 jurisdictions. The database now features over 12,000 legal texts, some 600 treaties and is operational in six languages: English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish. Intellectual Property Watch takes a look at this resource.

According to the WIPO Lex website, the resource offers authoritative, comprehensive and up-to-date information on the way IP is protected and enforced nationally and internationally.

As noted by WIPO Lex sources, the database is aimed at helping lawyers, students, inventors, policymakers, artists, entrepreneurs, scholars, investors, and the general public to find relevant information to protect IP, adapt to new developments, explore freedom to operate in new markets, make informed decisions or familiarise themselves with IP legal rights and obligations almost anywhere in the world.

Background

WIPO Lex is part of the WIPO GOLD portal, a bigger platform offering free access to several IP databases containing legal, statistical, empirical and technical IP information. Some of the other databases made available by this platform are PATENTSCOPE,Global Brand Database, ROMARIN, Lisbon Express, Article 6ter, Case studies: IP Advantage, and Hague Express.

WIPO GOLD provides global reference material on a broad range of subjects, such as world IP indicators, international IP classification systems, patent documents, WIPO standards, international marks, and IP laws and treaties.

WIPO GOLD and WIPO Lex were developed in 2010 in the context of the WIPO Strategic Realignment Program (SRP). The SRP was a major organisational change program that started in 2008.

According to the 2010 edition of WIPO’s Annual Overview, the realignment aimed to equip WIPO to deal more effectively with the challenges of the rapidly changing IP environment. The programme defined nine strategic goals and put in place 19 interconnected initiatives aimed at making the organisation more efficient and responsive. As further explained in the Overview, in 2010, WIPO made available on its website free, online access to a broad collection of IP data in pursuit of the strategic goal to become the ‘world reference source of IP information and analysis’.

WIPO Lex

WIPO Lex replaced the Collection of Laws for Electronic Access (CLEA) in order to give fully searchable access to IP laws and regulations as well as to multilateral, regional and bilateral IP-related treaties of WIPO, the World Trade Organization, and UN members.

The portal has a search facility that allows the user to consult: a specific legal text; the set of IP laws in force in a country; or regulations on particular subject matter or the amended versions of a law.

The topics covered by the search engine include trademarks, copyright, transfer of technology, patents, industrial designs, enforcement of IP, traditional knowledge, domain names, trade names, geographical indications, integrated circuits and plant variety protection.

Members’ Profiles present countries’ IP legislation in hierarchical categories. The profiles feature a national IP framework by listing all of the IP legal texts that are currently in force in the country. Generally, a member’s profile starts with the national constitution and primary IP laws, followed by IP-related laws and implementing rules or regulation. The profile also displays IP treaty memberships.

Even though only regulation in force is listed, the Bibliographic Entry of each law gives access to those legal texts that the law has repealed or superseded. A Bibliographic Entry also provides links to related legislation and presents notes with relevant information to help users navigate, understand and operate the different national IP systems.

To ensure the accuracy of the content in the database, WIPO Lex works in cooperation with national IP offices. As country profiles are completed, the IP offices review the information and bibliographic entries relevant to them.

Two years ago, the database for treaties was improved to make it more comprehensive and flexible. The treaties portal provides free access not only to the WIPO-administered treaties but also to regional IP treaties, IP-related multilateral treaties, regional economic integration treaties, IP-relevant bilateral treaties, and declarations of 61 organisations.

Users can consult the intellectual property provisions in force at organisations such as the Andean Community, the East African Community, the European Free Trade Association or the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.

The texts in WIPO Lex come from different official sources. Some arrive as notifications made by WIPO members. These members have an obligation, under Article 15(2) of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property and Article 24(2) of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, to communicate to WIPO new laws and texts concerning the protection of industrial property and copyright. Likewise, WIPO Lex receives notifications from WTO members through the WIPO-WTO Common Portal.

Under Article 63.2 of the TRIPS Agreement, WTO members also have an obligation to notify national laws and regulations related to the availability, scope, acquisition, enforcement and prevention of the abuse of IP rights.The WIPO-WTO Common Portal was created in May 2010. The portal was developed in close collaboration with the WTO secretariat to provide WIPO and WTO members with a simple and practical alternative to manage the submission of their legal texts, in line with the notification requirements.

At the same time, the WIPO Lex team actively searches for information and texts pertaining to IP, from credible sources around the world. As noted by the WIPO Lex team, research is done on a regular basis to identify and verify information.

Moreover, the WIPO Lex team works in cooperation with national IP offices, private companies, law firms, law associations and universities. The feedback from users is also considered very important to the development of the database.

In the first quarter of 2014 alone, 755 new entries were created in WIPO Lex to reflect the constant evolution of the global IP landscape. New regulation is constantly adopted as countries seek to promote innovation or to adapt their regimes to technological developments, biomedical research or cyberspace.

Visits to the portal have been doubling every year. In 2013, the number of page views reached four million. Visitors from the United States, Philippines, Mexico, France, India, United Kingdom, Colombia, China, Spain and Peru are the top ten most recurrent, respectively.

As a living database that is expanding every day, WIPO Lex faces a number of future challenges. These include to maintain the quality of its content, keep the vast amount of information shared up-to-date, and to continue to grow its offers and benefits in order to adapt to the needs of its visitors.

Angela Garcia M. is a guest contributor to Intellectual Property Watch. She holds a law degree from the Universidad de Lima, in her home country of Peru, a master’s degree in intellectual property law from the Universidad de Alicante-Spain, and a master’s degree in business administration from the Business School Lausanne-Switzerland. Her experience includes providing legal support to INDECOPI, the Peruvian IP Office, Organisation for a Geographical Indications Network, and the World Intellectual Property Organization.

Angela Garcia Medina may be reached at info@ip-watch.ch.

Creative Commons License"IP-Watch Spotlight: WIPO Lex, Database Of Global IP Systems" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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