Amid banks, diplomats and intellectual property

Walking through the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI), you could be forgiven for thinking you’re on a short trip around Europe. The meeting rooms are named after cities, such as Paris, Munich and The Hague. But there’s more to the names of these gathering spots than just destinations for upcoming holidays. The first stop in our ‘IP cities’ series is Geneva, which lies on the shores of Lake Geneva between the Alps and the Jura massif and is home to the United Nations European headquarters. It is in many ways a hub of the intellectual property (IP) world.

United Nations headquarters in Geneva
The flag-lined avenue to the United Nations headquarters in Geneva. (Image: iStock/Rhombur)

The meeting rooms in the IPI are labelled with the names of various European cities. As well as Paris, Munich and The Hague, there’s also a sign leading to sunlit ‘Geneva’. 


The most important organisation in the field of intellectual property, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), is located in this economic metropolis. Founded in 1967 as a special United Nations organisation, its purpose is to foster the protection of intellectual property rights worldwide. One of its key tasks is managing a current total of 26 international treaties, including flagship agreements such as the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, the Universal Copyright Convention (UCC) and the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks (MA). All companies that wish to be active internationally rely on such treaties to be as economically efficient and effective as possible.


In 1995, the World Trade Organization (WTO), which is also headquartered in this city on Lake Geneva, adopted the Agreement on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights – an international treaty that has been signed by more than 150 member states. The TRIPS Agreement sets out minimum standards for the protection of intellectual property, which every government must apply to the intellectual property of other WTO members. Not only does it promote multilateral collaboration in the area of intellectual property, but it also makes such collaboration easier by providing an effective means of enforcement. 


So Geneva plays a key role on the IP map, just like a number of other European cities. Why does our journey also take us to the Spanish meseta? Find out in the next instalment of our IP cities series. 

Back to all blog articles

Share article