World Intellectual Property Day 2014

World Intellectual Property Day 2014

Happy World IP Day! Wow, how many times have you said something like that before? World Intellectual Property Day? Yes, IP has come a long way. Since 2000, member states (currently 187 member states) of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) designated April 26 (even when it falls on a Saturday like this year) as World IP Day. Why April 26? It is the day that the WIPO Convention came into force in 1970. The purpose of World IP Day is to increase the understanding of IP. Generally, that means beyond copyright, patent and trade-mark lawyers and to the general public. More specifically, WIPO sees World IP Day as a great occasion for everyone around the world to discuss how IP “contributes to the flourishing of music and the arts and to driving the technological innovation that helps shape our world.”

Movies – A Global Passion

This year, the World IP Day theme is: Movies – A Global Passion.

As WIPO Director General, Francis Gurry stated at the U.S. Copyright Office's “early” celebration of World IP Day on April 23, 2014, “movies really are collections of intellectual property.” Gurry also said, “intellectual property ensures we have a global production of movies that rewards all of those who are involved in the production of movies.”

IP is of course essential to the film business, from the inception of a film throughout the process, including the film hitting the screen. For more information, see From Script to Screen: What Role for Intellectual Property?

What Role for You on World IP Day?

Organizations around the world are seizing the opportunity to educate others about IP and the people and process involved in creating IP.  You too could join in and host a film festival, organize a concert, or exhibit inventions of local inventors. WIPO makes several suggestions of activities you can do.  These activities include:

  • Mounting a public exhibition displaying how consumers benefit from IP
  • Organizing a workshop to educate specific users such as artists, musicians and inventors about how IP rights benefit them
  • Promoting IP through social media
  • Running a photo contest to manifest creativity and the working of copyright in practice
  • Creating and distributing World IP Day publicity materials such as posters, brochures, etc., for specific audiences

WIPO can help if you are planning a public outreach campaign. Its site suggests that you establish your campaign with specific objectives, you identify the target audience, research the best way of getting the word out to your audience and develop a plan to get that word out. For more information, see WIPO’s Guide to Intellectual Property Outreach.

Spreading the IP Word

A celebration of World IP Day could be as simple as discussing downloading music with your children around the dinner table. Or sharing with a colleague a URL to an article about legally using trade-marks. Or posting a message on your Facebook page about others obtaining permission to use your photos. Whether we create or use IP, it is easy to see how IP is an integral part of our daily lives. And it seems that IP has grown so quickly to encompass even more of our activities.

One of my favourite quotes about understanding copyright law and “spreading the copyright message” comes from U.S. Register for Copyright, Maria Pallante, where she states that copyright is a life skill:

It’s one of those life skills now, right? When you graduate from high school or college, you should know how to read a map, you should know how to use GPS, you should know a little bit about copyright. If you are somebody who is going to be in a field where you will encounter copyrighted materials all the time, you should know more. If you’re going to be an artist or musician and you’re getting a red-hot degree in the performing arts, you should know a lot. And I don’t think that’s quite the case - I don’t think it’s been built into the curricula.

Do you know a little bit about IP or more? And what can you do today to help your friends, families and colleagues understand how IP affects us all?

Lesley is a lawyer, author, educator, and Osgoode alumnus (’85). Her book, Canadian Copyright Law, Fourth Edition, was recently published by Wiley. You can read more of Lesley’s posts at