The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) is responsible for a wide variety of tasks related to the protection of IP rights. These include assisting governments and organizations to develop the policies, structures and skills needed to harness the potential of IP for economic development; working with Member States to develop international IP law; administering treaties; running global registration systems for trademarks, industrial designs and appellations of origin and a filing system for patents; delivering dispute resolution services; and providing a forum for informed debate and for the exchange of expertise.

WIPO has a huge number of member states of 184 countries which makes it over 90% of the world. All the member states negotiate treaties and set policies on IP matters. It is UN specialized agency that coordinates international treaties regarding IP rights. India is an active member of WIPO. The history of WIPO dates back to 1967. The WIPO Convention established WIPO with the objective of promoting IP protection throughout the world. The headquarter of WIPO is in Geneva, Switzerland. Currently WIPO administer 24 treaties.

The WIPO Convention categorized IP into the following categories :

  • Literary, artistic and scientific works
  • Performances of performing artists, phonograms and broadcasts
  • Inventions in all fields of human endeavor
  • Scientific discoveries
  • Industrial designs
  • Trademarks, service marks and commercial names and designations
  • Protection against unfair competition

and all other rights resulting from intellectual activity in the industrial, scientific, literary or artistic fields.

These works can be categorized into copyright and industrial property branch of intellectual property.

WIPO has laid down five goals in its 2005-06 programme :

  • To promote an extensive intellectual property culture
  • To integrate intellectual property into national development policies and programmes
  • To develop international intellectual property laws and standards /(partially defined as promoting laws forbidding the circumvention of technological restrictions)/
  • To deliver quality services in global intellectual property protection systems
  • To increase the efficiency of WIPO’s management and support processes.

WIPO has 184 member states, operating on “one country, one vote” system. The General Assemble governs the functioning of WIPO. While the General Assembly oversees all its activities, it also has committees to deal with specific issues.

Apart from the 24 treaties that WIPO administers, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) administers the most important treaty on this subject, the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs Agreement). .

The WTO’s TRIPS Agreement was signed in 1994, and states in its preamble the desire to “establish a mutually supportive relationship between the WTO and the World Intellectual Property Organisation.” In 1996 the WTO and WIPO signed a cooperation agreement to facilitate the implementation of the TRIPS Agreement. .

In 1996, WIPO passed the “Internet Treaties” to deal with IP issues in cyberspace. The two treaties are : WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treat (WPPT), which brought about a much needed change in setting ICT Regulation. .