WIPO – World Intellectual Property Organisation

The need for protection of Intellectual Property (IP) has certainly increased since the industrialisation of many industries and their herewith associated development in a country or region on a wide scale. This need culminated in 1873, when foreign exhibitors refused to attend the International Exhibition of Inventions held in Vienna, Austria, for fear their ideas would be stolen and exploited commercially in other countries.

1883 – Paris Convention

Acknowledging this issue for the first time, as part of the Paris convention in 1883, 176 contracting parties adopted the convention that applied to industrial property in the broadest sense, including patents, trademarks, industrial designs, utility models, service marks, trade names, geographical indications and the repression of unfair competition.

This international agreement was the first major step taken to help creators ensure that their intellectual works were protected in other countries.

1886 – Berne Convention

Having seen the results from the Paris Convention with regards to industrial property, artists around the world, headed by French writer Victor Hugo and his Association Littéraire et Artistique Internationale started a campaign for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. Their efforts resulted in the agreement of the Berne Convention in 1886. The aim is to give creators the right to control and receive payment for their creative works on an international level. Works protected included:

–          novels, short stories, poems, plays;

–          songs, operas, musicals, sonatas; and

–          drawings, paintings, sculptures, architectural works.

1891 – Madrid Agreement

With the adoption of the Madrid Agreement, the first international IP filing service was launched, the Madrid System for the international registration of marks. In the years that followed, the IP services offered by the office (which would become WIPO) developed into a comprehensive suite of IP services still in place today.

1893 – BIRPI established

WIPO’s immediate predecessor, the United International Bureaux for the Protection of Intellectual Property – best known by its French acronym, BIRPI, combined the two government departments set up to administer the Paris and Berne Conventions. The office was based in Berne, Switzerland.

1970 – BIRPI becomes WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation)

BIRPI is transformed into WIPO following the convention to establish the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The newly established WIPO is a member state-led, intergovernmental organization, with its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.