Singapore's intellectual property chief in bid for top job at United Nations agency

Mr Daren Tang has been chief executive of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore since 2015. He was also part of the Republic's legal team in the dispute with Malaysia over the sovereignty of Pedra Branca.
Mr Daren Tang has been chief executive of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore since 2015. He was also part of the Republic's legal team in the dispute with Malaysia over the sovereignty of Pedra Branca.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The head of Singapore's intellectual property office is running for the top job at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (Wipo).

Mr Daren Tang, 47, chief executive of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (Ipos), was nominated by the Government for the post of Wipo director general earlier this month (Nov).

"Mr Tang's credentials and experience will enable him to contribute meaningfully in the role," Ipos said.

Wipo director general Francis Gurry of Australia, who has held the position since 2008, ends his current term in September next year.

Member states of the United Nations specialised agency must submit nominations by Dec 30 and Wipo's coordination committee will nominate a candidate by early March 2020.

The UN general assembly will appoint the new director general by May.

Others who have submitted their candidacy so far include Ms Saule Tlevlessova of Kazakhstan, who is president of the Eurasian Patent Organisation's patent office, and Mr Kenichiro Natsume of Japan, senior director of Wipo's PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty) legal and international affairs department.

Ipos said Mr Tang, who became Ipos deputy chief executive in August 2012 and chief executive in November 2015, has been "actively engaged in (Wipo) activities and discussions", including chairing its standing committee on copyright and related rights since May 2017.

Ambassador-at-Large Tommy Koh told The Straits Times on Monday (Nov 18) that as a Singaporean, and someone who knows Mr Tang personally, he is "very proud" about the bid.

 
 

"His intellect, temperament and management style would benefit Wipo and its member states," Prof Koh said, adding that Mr Tang transformed Ipos into an "innovation agency".

"He is a good leader, an experienced negotiator and some one who has proven himself to be able to bring diverse countries together."

Under Mr Tang's tenure, Ipos moved up a notch to place fourth on the International Property Rights Index, maintaining its position as the top Asian nation.

Mr Tang was a member of the team that negotiated the United States-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA), and more recently led the intellectual property negotiations for Singapore in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) - which later became the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for TPP - the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, and the European Union-Singapore FTA. IP protections are a key part of free trade pacts.

Before he joined Ipos, a statutory board under the Law Ministry, Mr Tang was a Senior State Counsel with the Attorney-General's Chambers' international affairs division.

He was part of Singapore's legal team in the dispute with Malaysia over the sovereignty of Pedra Branca.

Prof Koh said: "I believe that, as the head of Wipo, he will be a bridge between the North and South and between the East and the West."