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WIPO Director General conferred the Order of Sikatuna

Photo: Emmanuel Berrod, WIPO

World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Director General Dr. Francis Gurry has received the highest Presidential honour of diplomatic merit in recognition of his extraordinary efforts to sustain and strengthen WIPO’s relations with the Philippine government, through the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL).

President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed the conferment last April 26, coinciding with the World Intellectual Property Day.

The actual awarding took place on October 2, 2018 in Geneva, with the award presented by  Ambassador Evan P. Garcia, Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva and the IPOPHL Director General Josephine R. Santiago.

To recall, Dr. Gurry visited the Philippines last April 26 to celebrate World IP Day outside of Geneva, a historic first. He came to grace IPOPHL’s first Intellectual Property Convergence, a high-level forum on intellectual property, and to join in the presentation of the first Gawad Yamang Isip.

The Gawad Yamang Isip is IPOPHL’s series of awards honoring institutions and individuals who have cultivated the Philippine intellectual property system either in their effective use of it or in their official capacity.

Dr. Gurry was awarded the Order of Sikatuna, Grand Cross Datu (with Silver distinction), in acknowledgment of his crucial role in aiding the IPOPHL elevate the Philippine intellectual property system to where it is today.

The Order of Sikatuna is the “order of diplomatic merit conferred upon individuals who have rendered exceptional and meritorious services to the Republic of the Philippines.”  The Order of Sikatuna was established by President Elpidio Quirino on 27 February 1953, and which was subsequently reformed in 2003 by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“As the steadfast government partner of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in the Philippines, the IPOPHL initiated the move that was duly endorsed by the DTI and the DFA. We applaud the conferment of this Presidential honour on Dr. Francis Gurry. This is further evidence of the Philippines’ solid relations with the international organization and the contribution of WIPO to the continued enhancement of the country’s intellectual property system and the IPOPHL’s goal to make intellectual property relevant in the daily lives of Filipinos,” Atty. Josephine R. Santiago, Director General of IPOPHL said.

“The Philippines, through its Intellectual Property Office, has made great strides in the field of intellectual property, which has become a cornerstone of the country’s innovation promotion strategy.  Receiving the Order of Sikatuna from Philippines’ Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Evan Garcia and IPOPHL Director General Josephine R. Santiago, on the margins of the annual WIPO Assemblies, is a great honor,” said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry.

The WIPO-IPOPHL partnership has been marked by the following achievements:

  1. Philippines’ designation as an International Searching Authority and International Preliminary Examining Authority (ISA/IPEA) under the Patent Cooperation Treaty;

  2. Establishment of Innovation Technology Support Offices (ITSOs) all over the country, a crucial step in spurring future inventions and innovation;

  3. Deployment of the Industrial Property Administration System (IPAS), an IT administration system that fully automated the processing of patent and trademark applications in the IPOPHL;  

  4. Accession to the Madrid Protocol, an international agreement that has given Filipino trademark owners a cost-effective and easy access to a global trademark protection system for their trademarks;

  5. Institutionalization of the Heads of Intellectual Property Offices (HIPOC) Meeting that has provided the IPOPHL with a venue to interface with heads of other intellectual property offices and collaborate with them on various initiatives, capacity building activities for the IPOPHL, and South-South initiatives that has raised the profile of the IPOPHL as an office with the capacity to render technical assistance to other offices, among others.

These accomplishments are but a fraction of WIPO’s collective contribution under Dr. Gurry’s leadership that has led to the modernization, and wider utilization of the Philippine intellectual property system.

Dr. Gurry, an Australian national, has been at the helm of WIPO since 2008, and was reappointed for a second term in May 2014.

Dr. Gurry has held various key positions throughout his career, now spanning three decades at WIPO, encompassing the broad spectrum of the intellectual property system, before his appointment as its leader.