Get Ready Gals, It’s WIPO!

Thanks go to Greg Pomerantz — my lawyer, my photo-documentarian — for pointing me to WIPO’s page on Women and Intellectual Property.

In most ways, the page is a pretty standard Women and Field X page. Greg suggested that perhaps WIPO hired a Women And consultant who specializes in making pages and pamphlets like this. It seems plausible.

The page is everything one would imagine. It is equipped with an eclectic collection of pictures of women bent over test tubes side-by-side with women engaging in activities that WIPO seems to think are both particularly feminine and rich in currently unexploited IP potential — things like ballet dancing and banging on a traditional drum.

Evidently, WIPO is concerned by the fact that, "traditionally women have not generally held major prominence in the intellectual property field, an area frequently seen as a ‘masculine’ activity in years past." They go on:

It is critical that outreach programs to build awareness about the importance of intellectual property and its protection target [women] … Women, just as men, deserve to be given the means to enable them to use intellectual property as a tool of economic and social empowerment.

That’s right ladies: Men have been owning and exploiting ideas in increasingly egregious and unethical ways for the last several centuries. There’s an unfair gender division between the people who are using IP unfairly and those who are merely suffering the consequences. It’s about time you stepped up to the plate!

Like IP in indigenous knowledge, this is really indicative of WIPO’s major problem: the only tool they have to solve problems with IP is more IP. I’m not confident that WIPO is well equipped to implement — or even understand — solutions that require challenging the language and idea of ownership of knowledge through which they understand and attempt to solve problems.