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Intellectual property is becoming politicised. That’s why I am a candidate to run WIPO

By Saule Tlevlessova

The leadership race to run the world’s most influential intellectual property agency has become a proxy war between China and the United States. Here’s why that’s dangerous.

This Wednesday, delegates from 83 governments around the world are headed to Geneva to vote for the next head of the world’s most powerful intellectual property body. The World Intellectual Property Organisation, or WIPO, protects intellectual property (IP) and helps resolve disputes across nations and boundaries.

But there’s a problem: the race has turned into a political battleground between the candidates from China and Singapore, threatening this esteemed organisation with gridlock for the next six years. And developing countries and emerging economies — which are increasingly in need of strong IP protection in order to build their economies — are caught in the middle.

If either wins, we could be facing a six-year lame duck for the world’s most significant intellectual property body, transforming this half-century-old organisation into a political football. As the election enters its final stretch, analysts are already warning that this could effectively cripple the organisation. And I agree with them.

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