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Archived updates for Friday, September 24, 2004

WIPO: The Legacy of Arpad Bogsch (1919-2004)

Prior to his death on September 19, 2004 Dr. �rpád Bogsch marked the international intellectual property landscape in an unprecedented way. Born in 1919 in Hungary, Dr. Bogsch began his professional career in 1942 as an attorney in Budapest. In 1948, he moved to Paris as a legal officer at United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Copyright Division. In 1954 he took up a post as legal counsellor at the U.S Copyright Office in Washington, D.C. and became an American citizen in 1959.

Dr. Bogsch's 24-year career with WIPO began at the Bureaux Internationaux Réunis pour la Protection de la Propriété Intellectuelle. BIRPI had been set up in 1893 with a staff of seven to administer the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and in 1898 BIRPI administered four international treaties.

Dr. Bogsch was appointed as first Deputy Director General of BIRPI in 1963. Following the entry into force of the Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization in 1967, BIRPI became WIPO, and Bogsch became its first Deputy Director General in 1970, then second Director General of WIPO and Secretary General of UPOV in 1973. At a farewell reception for Dr. Bogsch in 1997, Dr. Idris paid tribute to his predecessor describing how from a small organization with a modest secretariat, WIPO had risen under Dr. Bogsch to become an internationally respected agency of the United Nations.

In 1974, WIPO became a specialized agency of the United Nations system of organizations, with a mandate to administer intellectual property matters recognized by the member States of the UN. In 1978, the WIPO Secretariat moved into the headquarters building that has now become a Geneva landmark, with spectacular views of the surrounding Swiss and French countryside. WIPO expanded its role and further demonstrated the importance of intellectual property rights in the management of globalized trade in 1996 by entering into a cooperation agreement with the World Trade Organization (WTO). WIPO now bills itself as "a dynamic entity with 180 member States, a staff that now numbers some 938, from 95 countries around the world, and with a mission and a mandate that are constantly growing. . . . WIPO [currently] administers 23 treaties (two of those jointly with other international organizations) and carries out a rich and varied program of work, through its member States and secretariat."

According to Wikipedia, "Unlike other branches of the United Nations, WIPO has enormous financial resources. These flow from its collection of fees under the Patent Cooperation Treaty, which it administers." Contributions from member states are quite small. The five largest contributing countries each donate about one-half percent of the Organization's budget, slightly over 320 million Swiss francs per year.

"WIPO is a one country, one vote forum. This is important, because there is a significant North-South divide in the politics of intellectual property. During the 1960s and 70s, developing countries were able to block expansions to intellectual property treaties (such as universal pharmaceutical patents) which might have occurred through WIPO.

"In the 1980s, this led to the United States "forum shifting" intellectual property standard-setting out of WIPO and into the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (later the WTO), where the North had greater control of the agenda. This strategy paid dividends with the enactment of TRIPs."
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