After nine and a half years at the World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva, I have come back to London to practise as a lawyer, arbitrator and mediator. I had lived in Brussels for several years when I worked at the Motion Picture Association, so I was accustomed to a French-speaking environment. Although I had made many visits to WIPO over the years, it was a new experience, and an educational one, to work in an intergovernmental organization in the United Nations system.
The defects of bureaucracies are well-known, but of all the UN specialised agencies, WIPO seems to be among the most useful. As a result of some of the international treaties which it administers, WIPO streamlines the registration of patents, trade marks, designs and geographical indications. It runs other niche programs such as WIPO ALERT, which was my own project to improve information sharing about copyright piracy with the advertising sector. Now in the hands of my talented former colleagues at WIPO, the concept may grow to encompass cooperation with other actors in the online environment which are in a position to help secure the rule of law in cyberspace. So much can be achieved by voluntary cooperation by good-faith actors in the online sphere.
No longer subject to the requirement of neutrality applicable to an international civil servant, I plan to make the occasional foray into the public sphere with comments on legal and policy issues which catch my attention.