12 May 2020

WIPO appoints Singapore Intellectual Property Office chief as new director general

Photograph of Daren Tang and Francis Gurry

Francis Gurry (left), the current WIPO director general, with Daren Tang, who takes over in October

Daren Tang will replace Australia's Francis Gurry, who has been in the top job since 2008

The World Intellectual Property Organization has named the chief executive of Singapore’s Intellectual Property Office as its next director general.

Daren Tang will begin his six-year term at the start of October, replacing outgoing director general Francis Gurry, who has been in the role for the past 12 years. The WIPO’s general assembly confirmed his appointment having been nominated by the organisation’s coordination committee in March.

Tang said: “I sincerely thank all member states for their support and confidence in entrusting me with this immense responsibility in these unprecedented times… More than ever, the WIPO community needs to unite to support our inventors, innovators and creators, all of whom are playing critical roles in helping us overcome this grave pandemic, whether it is in finding a cure for the virus, allowing us to stay connected through technology, or lifting our spirits during this challenging period.”

Tang will become only the fifth WIPO director general since the organisation was founded in 1967. WIPO operated without a director general for the first three years before Georg Bodenhausen of the Netherlands was the first to be appointed to the role in 1970. His replacement, Arpad Bogsch of the US, served for almost a quarter of a century between 1973 and 1997. He was followed by Sudan’s Kamil Idris, who served for just over a decade before Australia’s Gurry was appointed director general in 2008.

Gurry said: “The international intellectual property community will be in good hands with Mr Tang at helm of the organisation. In the meantime, we are looking forward to working closely with Mr. Tang and his team on a smooth transition.”

Tang said his vision for the future global IP ecosystem is one that is “balanced, inclusive and vibrant”.

Earlier this year, WIPO said that China had supplanted the US as the world’s most active patent filer in 2019, the first time in more than four decades that the US had not held that title. 

At the time, Gurry said: “IP is increasingly at the heart of global competition. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that innovation is not a zero-sum game — that a net increase in global innovation means new drugs, communications technologies, solutions for global challenges that benefit everyone, wherever they live.”

Email your news and story ideas to: news@globallegalpost.com