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WIPO Director General Visit to Brussels

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April 9, 2024

WIPO Director General Daren Tang wrapped up a two-day visit to Brussels on April 9, 2024, where he met with representatives of major EU institutions to discuss issues related to the challenges and opportunities in building a balanced and effective international IP system that fosters innovation and creativity.

In meetings with EU stakeholders, including the European Commission, the Presidency of the Council and the EU Parliament, Mr. Tang shared WIPO’s vision of a world where intellectual property is a powerful catalyst for jobs, investments, business growth and economic development.

Strengthening Collaboration on IP and the Innovation Journey

A central focus of Mr. Tang’s visit involved high-level meetings with EU Commission officials, including the Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Ms. Iliana Ivanova, the Director General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology, Mr. Roberto Viola, the Director General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, Ms. Kerstin Jorna and the Deputy Director-General, Directorate General for Trade, Ms. Maria Martin-Prat. These discussions delved deep into WIPO’s and the EU´s initiatives on IP, their synergies, and their impact on fostering innovation in Europe and beyond.

WIPO Director General met European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth (Photo: WIPO/Blanck).

Both WIPO and the EU authorities agreed that a successful innovation ecosystem begins with effectively translating the ideas of local inventors and entrepreneurs into commercially relevant IP assets. This process is particularly challenging for research and development intensive startups and spinouts seeking to commercialize their innovations. The importance of sound licensing practices for the benefit of all stakeholders was emphasized in the meetings. The exchanges during the visit paved the way for future collaboration on specific initiatives related to IP financing, licensing, alternative dispute resolution in the digital environment, and Standard Essential Patents, among others.

Navigating the Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Copyright

In a keynote speech at the “Copyright in a Changing World” Conference, held as part of the Belgian EU Council Presidency in Namur, Mr. Tang highlighted the impact of AI on copyright and the creative process.

Mr. Tang noted that as much as gen-AI is a game changer, it is not the first disruptive technology to impact the way we create. Recent decades have brought an almost relentless series of tech waves, which creators and the copyright system have adjusted to. Mr. Tang emphasized that, as long as we continue to put human creativity and the human creator at the center, this process will continue to evolve.

During his meeting with Ms. Séverine Waterbley, President of the Federal Public Service Economy of Belgium, in charge of IP, Mr. Tang stressed the importance of fair remuneration for artists and creators in the digital age, a topic actively addressed by WIPO through a number of initiatives, including the platform Creators Learn IP (CLIP), launched jointly with the Music Rights Awareness Foundation, which empowers creators by explaining their IP rights and enabling them to take informed decisions.

WIPO Director General met President of FPS Economy (Photo: Jeroen Vranckaert/Beeldvorm Corporate Photography).

The discussions on emerging technologies showed a joint commitment of the Belgian EU Council Presidency and WIPO to facilitate IP management in the digital environment in a balanced and inclusive way that duly recognizes the interests of individual artists, and SMEs.

Exchange of views with the European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI)

Mr. Tang was invited by the JURI Committee to share WIPO’s work and vision on the future of IP. The conversation engaged MEPs from a broad political spectrum to explore practical and pragmatic options in response to various IP challenges, including open innovation and libraries, AI and IP and the evolving geography of innovation.  

Collaboration Beyond Borders

During the talks, European stakeholders showed interest in WIPO’ s new emphasis on turning IP discussion into action and creating real impact on the ground by means of concrete projects focused on groups that have traditionally been underserved by the IP system, such as women entrepreneurs, youth, and SMEs. WIPO’s increasingly active role in building partnerships across regions and agencies, like the trilateral cooperation with WHO/WTO, met a very positive response from EU stakeholders, which highlighted their potential to change the perception of IP globally.

The European stakeholders expressed their support for WIPO’s role in preparing and facilitating the 2024 WIPO diplomatic conferences, aimed at establishing international legal frameworks regarding Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge in May, and on a Design Law Treaty, in November.

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