|Obituary forArpad Bogsch
Member of Honour
† September 19, 2004
In Arpad Bogsch, who passed away on September 19, 2004, the world of intellectual property has lost the founding father of modern intellectual property, the man who was largely responsible for making an esoteric legal field, once reserved for specialists, into a recognized instrument at the service of economic development, the encouragement of innovation and creativity and the fight against counterfeiting and piracy.
Arpad Bogsch was born in Hungary in 1919 and became a citizen of the United States of America in 1959; he studied law, and was awarded two doctorates, one in Hungary and one in Paris, and a master’s degree in the United States. After having practised at the bar in Hungary, he held the posts of legal officer at UNESCO in Paris and thereafter of legal counsellor at the US Copyright Office in Washington. In 1963 he arrived in Geneva, where he became Deputy Director of the United International Bureaux for the Protection of Intellectual Property (BIRPI), the predecessor of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and then Deputy Director General of the latter Organization when it actually came into being in 1970. After that, for the 25 years from 1973 to 1997, he was Director General of WIPO and also Secretary General of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), WIPO’s sister organization.
It was under his influence that BIRPI, which was a legacy of the nineteenth century, mutated into WIPO, an organization for the second half of the twentieth, that WIPO joined the United Nations family in 1974, thereby taking on the universal dimension that it had previously lacked, and that it grew considerably thereafter.
Arpad Bogsch launched a multitude of ground-breaking initiatives, notably by advocating the conclusion and revision of numerous international treaties, by launching an ambitious program of assistance to developing countries, by modernizing the system for the international registration of marks, by creating the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center and by presiding over the baptism of ATRIP, a world association of intellectual property teachers and researchers. But above all he was the inventor of the Patent Cooperation Treaty or PCT, the remarkable success of which made WIPO into an international organization unique in the United Nations system in that it is, to a very predominant extent, financed today by the fees that the private sector pay for the use of the PCT.
In addition he contributed extensively to providing China with a modern intellectual property system and bringing that vast country into the international intellectual property community. Similarly, when the Soviet Union broke up, he actively assisted the countries that emerged from it to create their own national systems and, as far as most of them are concerned, to build up a common patent regime through the Eurasian Patent Convention.
Arpad Bogsch was an exceptional leader, albeit a demanding one, indeed a very demanding one, but truly exceptional. The example that he set, impossible though it might have been to follow, was a formidable stimulus for us all. Not only was our top man able, through patient and often hard-hitting diplomacy, to persuade the delegates of Member States and organizations of the rightness of his proposals, but he was also awe-inspiring for his thorough knowledge of the subjects on which he led discussions.
Internally too, his profound knowledge of issues very often had the effect, as a former staff member recently reminded me, of his knowing more on the subject on which a colleague was making a proposal to him than the colleague did himself. Indeed what he did was spot immediately, to our great discomfiture, the slightest defect in the dossiers that we submitted to him.
Arpad Bogsch’s professional and human qualities earned him appreciation, admiration and respect throughout the world. Evidence of this is the score of decorations and over a dozen honorary doctorates awarded him in the course of his career, not to mention the honorary memberships bestowed on him not only by AIPPI but also by the International Literary and Artistic Association (ALAI) and by the International Federation of Industrial Property Attorneys (FICPI). All those who have had the opportunity to come into contact with him have been left with the memory of an extraordinary personality.
The heartfelt sympathies of the entire international intellectual property community go to his widow Adèle, herself a former WIPO colleague, to his children Sylvia and Henry, to his grandchildren and to his whole family.
François Curchod (AIPPI Member of Honour and former Deputy Director General of WIPO)