This year’s World Intellectual Property Day on April 26 celebrates the role of design in the market-place, in society and in shaping the innovations of the future. Across the world, IP Offices, associations, businesses and technology institutions have announced –through the WIPO website or through the IP Day Facebook page – numerous activities to mark the day, including competitions, exhibitions and public discussions.

Speaking about the role of design, WIPO Director General Francis Gurry describes design as “the language of communication of objects,” helping to communicate both function and esthetics.

In his World IP Day message, Francis Gurry underlines the fact that design is one of the principal means of differentiating a range of mass produced household and consumer items, such as chairs and tables, for which the technological possibilities for development have been exhausted. Mr. Gurry also highlights how, with increasing emphasis on ecologically sound living, “designing out waste” has become an aspiration shared by many creators. Sustainable design processes can help lower production costs and reduce environmental impact.

The intellectual property system encourages designers to produce attractive items that are easier, more comfortable and safer to use, by helping to protect original designs against unauthorized copying and imitation. In international markets, companies need to be able to protect their designs quickly and cost-effectively in several countries. WIPO’s Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs – which simplifies that process – enjoyed record growth in 2010.

Background: WIPO’s member states initiated World IP Day in 2000 to raise public awareness about the role of IP in daily life, and to celebrate the contribution made by innovators and creators to the development of societies across the globe. World IP Day is celebrated annually on April 26, the date on which the Convention establishing WIPO entered into force in 1970.