History of World IP Day
IIPA is pleased to launch our new blog on World Intellectual Property (IP) Day, a holiday observed on April 26th of each year that celebrates the many ways that IP incentivizes innovation, creativity, and economic growth. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) established this holiday in 2000 and describes it as “an opportunity to highlight the role that IP rights . . . play in encouraging innovation and creativity.” World IP Day is celebrated worldwide, and everyone is welcome to contribute to activities and programs that increase awareness of the importance of IP rights. Many IP Offices, schools and universities, businesses, and other organizations hold events on World IP Day.
2023 Theme: Women and IP: Accelerating Innovation and Creativity
Each year, WIPO selects a theme for World IP Day. The theme of this year’s World IP Day is “Women and IP: Accelerating Innovation and Creativity,” which celebrates the perseverance of women creators, innovators, and entrepreneurs from around the world. While women everywhere are contributing amazing creations and innovations to the world and building businesses, WIPO acknowledges that “too few women are participating in the IP system,” and thus are unable to reap the benefits of IP systems that can protect their work. To address this problem, WIPO has dedicated several resources that explain the benefits of the IP system for female creators, inventors, and entrepreneurs, including how protecting their IP will help them to achieve their goals and accelerate their creativity and innovation.
IIPA strongly supports the theme of this year’s World IP Day and recognizes the amazing contribution female creators and innovators have made and continue to make every day. As part of World IP Day and the celebration of Women and IP, IIPA is launching this blog to explore important ideas and topics on copyright that enable these creators and innovators to flourish and continue making their important contributions.
Women IP Leaders in the U.S. Government
In the spirit of celebrating women in IP, IIPA would also like to take this opportunity to recognize and thank the women who hold or have held positions in the U.S. government responsible for protecting and enforcing IP. These women have worked tirelessly to protect, enforce, and promote the IP rights of all creators, innovators, and entrepreneurs, including the women that are the focus of this World IP Day.
Two prominent examples are the leaders of the two major U.S. IP agencies. Director Kathi Vidal, the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), leads the USPTO in “incentivizing and protecting U.S. innovation, entrepreneurship, and creativity.” Shira Perlmutter, the Register of Copyrights and Director of the U.S. Copyright Office, “advises Congress and executive branch agencies on copyright policy and directs the administration of important provisions of the U.S. Copyright Act, leading a workforce of nearly 500 employees.”
Both of these leaders have focused on increasing the participation of women in the IP ecosystem. In remarks at the event “Women in IP: Diversity and Inclusion: Mentoring, Affinity Groups and the Collection of Demographic Data,” Director Vidal noted the gender gaps that still exist throughout the global IP system and the importance of gathering data to determine how to bridge this gap. In June 2022, under Register Perlmutter’s leadership, the Copyright Office issued a report on women in the copyright system. While the data showed gains in copyright registrations granted to women authors, it also demonstrated that on average women authors were 21.6 percent less prevalent among copyright registrations than among participants in associated copyright-related occupations.
Director Vidal is the second woman to serve as Director of the USPTO, following Michelle Lee, who served from 2015-2017. In the last half century, several remarkable women have held the position of Register of Copyrights, making major contributions to the field of copyright. In 1973, Barbara Ringer became the first woman to serve as Register of Copyrights. According to a memorial Copyright Notice, Ms. Ringer was known for her “brilliance in drafting legislation, her authorship on works on copyright, and her ability to harmonize divergent points of view” and “was a key advisor to Congress in the preparation and passage of the Copyright Act of 1976, which remains her most significant legacy.” Marybeth Peters, who served as Register from 1994-2010, was the second longest serving Register and, among other things, oversaw implementation of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act, the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Other women who had notable tenures as Register or Acting Register of Copyrights include Maria Pallante, Karyn A. Temple, and Maria Strong.
World IP Day provides a platform to raise awareness of the importance of IP rights to creators and innovators and to economic and cultural development. IIPA’s recent economic report, which quantifies the contributions of the copyright industries to the U.S. economy, helps to highlight this importance. This year’s World IP Day focus on “Women and IP” provides a wonderful opportunity to celebrate not only women who contribute so greatly to the creative community, but also the many women who are dedicated to protecting the creative community. For more information on World IP Day, including ways in which you can become more involved, please visit the WIPO website.