WTO IP Division Director’s Thoughts On World IP Day 26/04/2017 by 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)Antony Taubman, director of the World Trade Organization Intellectual Property Division, has been in a good position to view the world and intellectual property for some time. Today, designated as World IP Day, we caught up with him to ask his views on the theme this year. Tony Taubman at Fordham TAUBMAN: For those of us working on the dimensions of IP law and policy that are of concern to the wider community, the need has become paramount to translate between increasingly complex, technical subject matter and major, overarching public policy issues. A major difficulty we encounter in reaching out beyond a familiar circle of experts to the public at large is, in essence, how to translate between two distinct forms of discourse, two modes of speaking about the IP system – what it’s there for, what it does. It’s always been a challenge to make IP law and policy intelligible to the wider community – it is an irreducibly complex field, subject to technicalities and legal nuances, and characterized by diversity in national systems. In an earlier time, it might have been left to experts to ponder in relative obscurity. Yet, today, it’s an area of absorbing interest and abiding concern for many – consider the debates over health, green innovation policy, the digital divide, indigenous culture and knowledge systems, and diffusion of cultural works. Initiatives like World IP Day help bring IP to the attention of the public, valuably reinforcing the sense that we all have a stake in the IP system. But we also have to acknowledge that the wider public naturally won’t have the time, the bandwidth, the sheer endurance to master the technicalities of IP law. The challenge for all of us working in the field is therefore to come up with a credible, coherent, inclusive way of translating between the lofty policy aspirations of the IP system and the geeky technical details. What I find, though, in working through the topical issues is that, at core, there are some fundamental principles that we all share: ideas of equity and balance, ideas of due acknowledgement and respect for real creativity and innovation, that lie beneath the sometimes quite sharp political divides and some of the seemingly incomprehensible technical debate. These are principles that we can actually reinforce and build upon. That for me is a large part of what’s going on in the innumerable meetings on IP matters that take place here in Geneva. It’s not always evident, and if you simply read the reports of some of the meetings, you would imagine there are unbridgeable divides: but I don’t think that state of affairs is an inevitability. After many years of debate, there’s still a vast amount of listening, learning, and thoughtful communication needed to carry us forward. Indeed, that’s why I characterize the challenge as almost one of literally translating between two languages: recognizing that technical jargon and specialised discourse is unavoidable when working at an expert level, but recognizing that this is not the right register or pitch to use when talking about fundamental issues – environment, health, inclusiveness in the knowledge economy, core notions of recognition and equitable balance – it’s not going to bridge the gaps in understanding that can dominate discussion. So World IP Day helps us focus on what is to me the defining challenge of IP policy today: how to communicate to the wider community credible, factually well-founded, and accessible ideas about the principles of IP, and how to sustain inclusive, respectful and informed debate about the practical application of these principles in the real world. 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 William New may be reached at email@example.com."WTO IP Division Director’s Thoughts On World IP Day" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.