Re-thinking the role of IP – Dr Francis Gurry – Sweeny Legal

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Re-thinking the role of IP: a lecture by Dr Francis Gurry

I attending Dr Gurry’s lecture in Sydney the other week. He says, the world’s wealth is increasingly becoming centred on intellectual capital, according to Dr Francis Gurry at his presentation at Melbourne University on Thursday 22 August 2013.  Dr Gurry is the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), and the highest-ranking Australian official in a United Nations agency.  The organisers of the fifth annual Francis Gurry Lecture on Intellectual Property were privileged to have the Lecture’s namesake present on “Re-thinking the role of IP”, exploring the major economic, social and political developments affecting intellectual property.

Dr Gurry identified three ways in which intellectual property has changed, largely crediting it to globalisation:

  1. Rise of intangibles: increasingly, companies are investing more in intangible assets, such as intellectual capital and knowledge based capital, than in physical assets.  This intellectual capital, or ‘innovation’, is changing the ways companies are competing in the market place.  Indeed, Dr Gurry referred to the Wall Street Journal’s 2012 exposé on overuse of the word “innovation”, noting that in a search of annual and quarterly reports filed with the United States’ Securities and Exchange Commission, the word “innovation” was mentioned 33,528 times, a 64% increase on a similar search conducted five years earlier.
  2. Geopolitical shift: the centre of intellectual property is moving.  China is now the second largest investor in the world with respect to Research & Development, and in 2011, became the biggest Patent office in the world.
  3. Diffusion of power: due to the internet and social media, the monopoly of access to information has been taken away from the world leaders.


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