Why We Celebrated World Intellectual Property Day 2016 27/04/2016 by Intellectual Property Watch Leave a 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) The views expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and are not associated with Intellectual Property Watch. IP-Watch expressly disclaims and refuses any responsibility or liability for the content, style or form of any posts made to this forum, which remain solely the responsibility of their authors. By Corey Salsberg* Yesterday was World Intellectual Property Day. April 26 is the day we celebrate and call attention to the global intellectual property (IP) system. Why do we set aside a day for the entire world to stop and reflect on a subject that, for many, may seem more at home in board rooms, lecture halls, and legislatures, than in cafes, farms, and internet blogs? To be sure, one reason for everyone to celebrate IP—not just today, but every day of the year—is the veritable catalog of innovations that owe their existence to the IP system, and that touch each and every one of our lives day after day, wherever we live. From lifesaving medicines, to computers and smartphones, to the fabrics we wear, to the cars and trains and bicycles and motorbikes that get us where we need to go every day, the impact of IP is tangible and omnipresent in countless aspects of our daily lives. But this year, there’s another reason for “ordinary” people to celebrate IP (though, as we will see, there is really nothing ordinary about any of us). That reason is the filing of a very special patent application by a Colombian inventor named Antonio Gonzalo Hoyos Barón. Mr. Hoyos’s application is special indeed, not because he is more deserving of praise than the millions of other inventors contributing to human progress every day around the world, or because the invention described in his application—a particular mechanism that uses retractile nails to improve traction on automobiles in sliding soils—is more deserving of patent protection than any number of other great inventions that meet the criteria for the grant of a patent. Mr. Hoyos’ application is remarkable instead because it represents what is probably the first time in history that an under-resourced inventor in a developing country can apply for a patent with the advice and assistance of a top-notch patent attorney without having to worry about the cost. That is because Mr. Hoyos is the first inventor in the world to be matched with a pro bono attorney through an exciting new initiative called the Inventor Assistance Program (IAP). A joint effort of the World Economic Forum and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), developed and built with the support and contributions of local governments, law firms, and corporate supporters, the IAP is the first and only global program aimed at improving access to the patent system in developing countries by matching local financially under-resourced inventors and small businesses with qualified patent attorneys to help them secure patent protection for their inventions on a pro bono basis. Designed to help developing country inventors navigate and use the patent system – a critical step in the process of converting promising local ideas into economically and socially valuable innovations – the IAP is built on the fundamental understanding that creativity and great ideas come from people in all parts of the world, and on the belief that a successful IP system must be accessible to all, without regard to one’s socioeconomic status, geography, or financial means. With the April 2015 launch of a pilot program in Colombia—a country chosen for its reputation as a supporter of IP rights in the region—the IAP became an overnight success, attracting hundreds of local inventors, academics, and entrepreneurs to witness its roll-out, which soon led to applications like that of Mr. Hoyos. Several other Colombian inventors have also been selected by the local Screening Board and are now in the process of being matched with IAP pro bono attorneys. Meanwhile, the program has since been launched in Morocco (November 2015) and in the Philippines (February 2016), where we expect new matches to be made soon. And looking a bit further ahead, the IAP Steering Committee is preparing for a global launch, which will help more inventors with great ideas from more developing countries around the world unlock their innovative and creative potential with the aid of the patent system. So you see, in a sense, Mr. Hoyos is special precisely because he is not so special—he is you, me, the man or woman next door, the farmer up the road, and the mechanic in town. And so, this truly is an important World Intellectual Property Day, not only for Mr. Hoyos himself, but for the many developing country inventors that he represents, and who now have a much-improved potential to convert their ideas into real innovations that improve lives. That, in the end, is what World Intellectual Property Day is really about. And that is truly something to celebrate. To learn more about the IAP, please visit http://www.wipo.int/iap/en/. *Corey Salsberg is Head, International IP Policy for Novartis and a founding Member of the IAP Steering Committee. Image Credits: WIPO 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 "Why We Celebrated World Intellectual Property Day 2016" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.