Cooperation between the Faculty and WIPO Creates New Opportunities in the Field of Intellectual Property

Cooperation between the Faculty and WIPO Creates New Opportunities in the Field of Intellectual Property


The Faculty of Law recently signed an agreement to expand its existing cooperation with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) – the United Nations organization devoted to this field. The Faculty already offers diverse courses and research opportunities in the field of intellectual property, but the new agreement will enable students to work as interns in WIPO, alongside the existing areas of cooperation between the two sides.

The Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University works hard to stay at the vanguard of research and studies and seeks to combine the two areas. To this end, the Faculty often works in cooperation with some of the leading institutions in the world in various fields in order to provide its students and researchers with the best possible opportunity to realize their full professional potential. A good example of this is the longstanding cooperation between the Faculty and WIPO, which was recently expanded to allow Faculty graduates to intern in the organization.



The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is a special United Nations agency established in 1967 to promote the protection of intellectual property. WIPO is a focus of global activities relating to intellectual property and 186 countries are members of the organization, which is responsible for enforcing numerous international treaties and mechanisms from its head office in Geneva, Switzerland. WIPO is also active in the field of standardization, organizes extensive research activity, and helps to formulate intellectual property policies in diverse areas.


“The Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University is one of the leading faculties in Israel in the field of intellectual property,” explains Dr. Guy Pessach. He adds that the desire to maintain this leading position in the field explains the importance of cooperation with WIPO. Dr. Pessach, a senior lecturer at the Faculty in the fields of copyright, law and technology, and intellectual property, wrote his doctorate thesis on the subject of “Copyrights and Freedom of the Press” under the supervision of Professor Joshua Weisman. After undertaking post-doctorate studies at Yale University, Dr. Pessach became the first academic to join the Faculty of Law with the express intention of focusing on intellectual property. The Faculty has since expanded in this field, and Dr. Katya Assaf and Dr. Michal Shur-Ofry are now also active in teaching and research in intellectual property. “In terms of the range of courses and seminars we offer,” Dr. Pessach notes, “we are one of the leading institutions in the field in Israel. This is evident in undergraduate studies, in the master’s degree track in intellectual property, and in our extensive research work in the field.” 


Given this level of activity, it was only natural that the Faculty of Law would seek to expand its cooperation with WIPO. Israel’s contact person for WIPO is Attorney Li Maor, who is herself a graduate of the Faculty, where she completed a master’s degree in the Intellectual Property, Law, and Technology track, who contributed greatly to enhancing and expanding the cooperation between the Faculty and WIPO. “The cooperation between the Faculty and WIPO began a decade ago, and since then it has only grown and developed.”


What does the cooperation with WIPO include?
“In recent years the cooperation has been two way. On the one hand, WIPO cooperated with us to organize conferences on various issues on the public agenda relating to intellectual property. On the other, the Faculty itself has taken part in some specific WIPO projects. The highpoint of the relationship is an annual seminar on intellectual property. We held the first seminar in Geneva eight years ago in cooperation with WIPO and we attach great importance to repeating the event each year.”

Dr. Guy Pessach


What happens at the seminar?
“The Faculty organizes the seminar, which is attended by representatives from dozens of leading academic institutions around the world in the field of intellectual property. Every year we chose a particular topic and invite lecturers and research students from the different institutions to present their research projects and articles relating to the year’s theme. The seminar lasts three days and provides an opportunity for researchers from around the world to meet and listen to each other.”


What about representatives from the Faculty of Law?
“As the organizer of the annual seminar, the Faculty enjoys the privilege of flying five outstanding students to Geneva who have a background and interest in intellectual property. The students take part in the seminar, and in some years students who had written research studies on the subject even presented their work in the seminar – a wonderful opportunity for any student. The students enjoy a unique experience: visiting a United Nations organization, meeting students from leading academic institutions around the world, and above all – expanding their horizons on the subject of intellectual property.”


What’s planned for the next seminar?
“The participants at the next seminar – and this is only a partial list – will include the Faculty of Law of the Hebrew University, Georgetown law school, Munich International Property Law Center, the Centre for International Intellectual Property Studies (CEIPI) in Strasbourg, the Faculty of Law at the University of Geneva, the School of Law at the University of Connecticut, the Faculty of Law at Oxford University, and Amsterdam University. This year’s theme is intellectual property, institutions, and organizations.”


What does that mean?
“The idea is to examine interactions between the field of intellectual property and various institutional aspects. An example is the relationship between intellectual property and the institutional aspects of the state, or the role of international bodies, research institutions, and not-for-profit institutions. The seminar is due to be held in the last week of May at the WIPO headquarters in Geneva. As in previous years, the Faculty will send a delegation to the seminar and an announcement on the subject is due to be published shortly.”


As noted, the cooperation with WIVO was recently expanded. For many years the main field of cooperation was the organization of conferences and seminars. Now an internship track has been launched for Faculty graduates allowing them to spend several months working at WIPO and to experience the “nerve center” of the intellectual property world.

What has changed following the new agreement?
“According to the recent agreement signed with WIPO, a Faculty graduate who holds an LLB degree and a master’s degree in any field (not necessarily law) will be able to undertake an internship at WIPO. The internship will be for three to six months, during which time the organization will place the intern in the WIPOLEX department, which is responsible for the organization’s legislation and comparative law databases. The first request for applications is due to be issued shortly. Naturally this is a particularly attractive opportunity for our graduates who have an interest in intellectual property and want to gain an international perspective at one of the most important centers in the field.”

Dr. Michal Shur-Ofry

What will the interns do during their time at WIPO?
“The main function of WIPOLEX is to oversee the translation of acts of legislation relating to intellectual property into various languages in order to make them accessible to the organization and its members. The interns will also research and collate legal information and data for each country. Naturally we assume that our interns will devote much of their time to working on the Israeli file and making materials relating to Israel accessible to WIPO’s members. Of course this will only be part of their work, and it’s more than reasonable to assume that they will enjoy a taste of other aspects, too.”


So this is another opportunity for students to enjoy a broader international experience?
“Absolutely, and this complements the seminars and conferences. Our seminar is one of only a few around the world that enable researchers or research students who are just beginning their career to present their studies to a diverse audience that includes others at the same stage as well as experienced scholars. As academics we have plenty of conferences to attend, but for our students this is a unique opportunity.”


Does the experience prove beneficial?
“Almost everyone who has written a doctorate thesis on intellectual property at the Hebrew University presented their work at these seminars. An example is Dr. Michal Shur-Ofry, who has since joined the Faculty as a senior lecturer, as well as many others. This is a great way for junior researchers to develop international contacts. At the seminars they meet people from different countries who are at the same stage in their careers as well as more advanced researchers. We try to choose participants who are not only outstanding students but have shown a strong interest in intellectual property during their studies. The seminars focus on issues on the front line of contemporary research and offer an intellectual experience on the highest level.”