SEMARANG – In a significant move to fortify intellectual property (IP) collaboration, the ASEAN Member States and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on August 20, 2023. The signing, which took place during the 55th ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting (AEM), was executed by Dr. Kao Kim Hourn, Secretary-General of ASEAN, and Mr. Daren Tang, Director General of WIPO. The historic event was also graced by the presence of Economic Ministers of ASEAN Member States.
The MOU delineates an expanded collaboration in four pivotal areas:
- Empowering ASEAN's micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and startups, focusing on harnessing IP for intra-regional trade.
- Capitalizing on digital technologies to fuel business growth.
- Enhancing the use of IP and intangible assets for monetization and financing.
- Elevating support for ASEAN's burgeoning creative industries.
Dr. Kao Kim Hourn has long emphasized the centrality of IP development to the ASEAN Economic Community, describing it as the "core of ASEAN's aspirations for a region characterized by competitive innovation, inclusive economic growth, and long-term prosperity." Over the years, ASEAN has consistently championed intellectual property initiatives aimed at fostering innovation and bolstering the regional and global market position. The Global Innovation Index (GII) rankings bear testament to these efforts, with ASEAN nations progressively scaling its heights. In 2022, the region made a notable mark with its leading brands valued at over $250 billion USD, underscoring ASEAN's rising significance in the IP landscape.
WIPO has been a cornerstone ally for ASEAN since the ratification of the inaugural ASEAN IP Framework Agreement in 1995. This enduring partnership has catalyzed numerous milestones, from capacity-building endeavors and digital advancements in IP Offices across ASEAN Member States to facilitating the inclusion of these nations in major WIPO treaties. Such initiatives have paved the way for ASEAN businesses to seamlessly transition into intra-regional and international trade landscapes.
In reflecting on this renewed commitment, Dr. Kao Kim Hourn remarked that the MOU is not merely an agreement but a "defining stride into a renewed phase of dynamic cooperation between ASEAN and WIPO, one shaped by the digital age, sustainability, and inclusivity." The MOU serves as a beacon of the collective dedication of WIPO and ASEAN to bolster the region's entrepreneurs, SMEs, innovators, and creators in the forthcoming era.