An interview with Francis Gurry


Francis Gurry took over as director general of the World Intellectual Property Organization in 2008. The job is the culmination of a 25-year career at WIPO and presents a unique set of challenges.

As a United Nations special agency, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is in part subject to the internal politics of its parent body: a fiercely contested field when it comes to IP.

Its aims, says director general Francis Gurry, are threefold: WIPO is an executive body, which administers services for countries, companies and inventors; it is also a diplomatic organisation, attempting to negotiate, mediate and arbitrate between competing national interests; and finally, it is a development agency, tasked with supporting and encouraging IP protection in countries that currently have poor or non-existent regulation.

The three overlap to an extent, but each also presents its own distinct challenges. Gurry says that the service element of the mandate is going well, despite a decline in Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications during the financial crisis. The main challenge is to really internationalise the Madrid Protocol on trademarks and the Hague System for industrial designs, he adds.

Interview, Francis Gurry, WIPO