With April 26 marking the 12th occurrence of World Intellectual Property Day, leaders around the world have felt compelled to reflect upon history near and far and look for signs of what the future may hold.
Despite the growing exposure of intellectual property matters through hot-button issues like smartphone patents and digital music copyrighting, there is still a lingering concern that the inner workings and original spirit of the IP community are not yet common knowledge.
"Fundamentally, intellectual property rights - embodied in patents, trademarks and copyrights - are designed to promote innovation by incentivizing businesses and creators with the guarantee of legal protection for their creations," explained Global Intellectual Property Center executive vice president Mark Eliot. "When a strong IP rights system is in place, innovators and creators can secure the resources needed for the research, production and distribution processes."
These issues encompass everything from lifesaving medicines and drought-resistant crops to the ideas in one's favorite novel. According to Eliot, they could affect something as small as a solitary inventor or something more substantial like spurring employment growth and economic recovery.
While there have been notable advances in recent memory brought on via patent- and copyright-protected innovations, World Intellectual Property Organization director general Francis Gurry asserts that there is still much work to be done. Issues like eradicating disease and establishing new technological frontiers will all come down to a delicate balance of how innovations are protected, used and shared.