It was 1873 and the Austro-Hungarian Empire was about to
organize the Vienna Universal Exhibition which, at the time was one
of the main events worldwide. Suddenly the refusal of American and
German inventors to attend, given the low level of protection
offered by the country for their inventions, placed this great
event in danger. The response of the country's congress was
immediate, and implied an improvement in the protection of its
country's inventions as well as foreign ones. This was the seed
that culminated in the Paris Convention of 1883 and the creation of
the "International Union for the Protection of Industrial
Property". Intellectual Property definitively broke out of
national frontiers, which had been its natural space until
In order to administer the two main
Industrial and Intellectual Property treaties of the times (the
said Paris Convention and the Berne Convention of 1886) and promote
new agreements in this field, a secretariat was created in Berne in
1893 (it was not transferred to Geneva until 1960). At first it was
under the supervision of the Swiss government by means of what was
known as "Bureaux Internatinaux reunis pour la protection de
la propiete intellectuelle" (United International Bureau for
the Protection of Intellectual Property, BIRPI).
The first acid test for its
independence came when it signed a mutual agreement between equals
with the League of Nations when the latter was created in 1920.
After the Second World War and,
coinciding with the phenomenon of decolonization, some new
countries joined the BIRPI and others did so as observers, many of
which were, in fact, very critical about the way Industrial and
Intellectual Property was being used in the international arena. At
the beginning the UN (United Nations) promoted activities in
conjunction with the BIRPI in order to verify the situation of
Industrial and Intellectual Property. For its part, the Swiss
government, conscious of the interest of the UN in this field and
the anomaly implied by the BIRPI, which was not an international
agency, tried to take steps in order to raise the status of the
latter. But the importance of Industrial and Intellectual property
on the international scene, the complaints from developing
countries which did not see themselves being represented by the
BIRPI and the UN's interest in having its own organism
specialized in the area, led to the BIRPI being transformed into
the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization).
Five weeks of negotiations in the
Swedish parliament in Stockholm led to the signature in 1967 of the
WIPO convention and, on 26 April 1970 the BIRPI officially became
the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization), the fourteenth
specialized organism of the UN 1 and the first to
be created since 1961. With this, Industrial and Intellectual
Property was officially converted into "World
May, Christopher, 2009, "The Pre-History and Establishment
of the WIPO", The WIPO Journal
Francis Gurry, Director General of the WIPO 2010 "THE WIPO
CONVENTION – LIFE BEGINS AT 40!" WIPO magazine 04
1 ILO, the International Labor Organization (ILO),
FAO, the Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome
Unesco, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
WHO, the World Health Organization, Geneva
IMF, the International Monetary Fund, Washington D.C.
ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organization, Montreal
IMO, the International Maritime Organization, London
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