Singaporean Daren Tang poised to take helm of global intellectual property agency

Daren Tang (above) is the head of Singapore’s national intellectual property agency.
Daren Tang (above) is the head of Singapore’s national intellectual property agency.PHOTO: FACEBOOK/INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OFFICE OF SINGAPORE

Singapore’s intellectual property chief is poised to head the global intellectual property office, after becoming the first Singaporean to be nominated to helm a United Nations agency. 

Mr Daren Tang, 47, on Wednesday (March 4) received the nomination to become the next director-general of the Geneva-based World Intellectual Property Organisation (Wipo), which shapes global rules for intellectual property and oversees patents. 

He was selected by the agency’s 83-member coordination committee from a slate which originally comprised 10 candidates. In the final round of voting last night, he garnered 55 votes against China’s candidate, lawyer Wang Binying, who received 28 votes. 

The nomination of Mr Tang, who is chief executive of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (Ipos), will have to be confirmed by the Wipo general assembly when it convenes on May 7 and 8 this year.

Wipo’s general assembly has the final say, and has never rejected a committee nominee since the agency was created in 1967.

If confirmed, he will be the fifth director-general of Wipo, succeeding Australian Francis Gurry, and the first Singaporean to assume a top role in a UN organisation. He would then begin his six-year term from Oct 1.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong congratulated Mr Tang on his nomination last night.

PM Lee said in a Facebook post: “Am grateful the Wipo Coordination Committee supported Daren. We look forward to Wipo’s General Assembly approving Daren’s appointment as Director General in May 2020.”

He added: “This was a team effort by officers in Ipos, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Law, Ministry of Trade and Industry, all our overseas missions, non-resident Ambassadors and special envoys. Well done for flying the Singapore flag high!”

Mr Tang said he was humbled and honoured by the nomination.

He noted in a statement issued by MinLaw and IPOS that the nomination process was a team effort across many government agencies, all of whom worked hard over many months to promote his candidature.

“There were many well-qualified candidates who contested through a fair, open and transparent process, and this shows how important Wipo is to the global community,” Mr Tang said.

“I look forward to the confirmation of the nomination by the Wipo General Assembly in May 2020, and to jointly write the next chapter of Wipo’s future.”

Singapore’s Senior Minister of State for Law Edwin Tong said the country is “very grateful for the strong show of support from the Wipo Coordination Committee”.


Mr Tong noted that Wipo’s support when Singapore was still a young country in its formative years had enabled the Republic to develop a strong intellectual property (IP) regime.

“I am confident that, if approved by the Wipo General Assembly in May, Daren will serve Wipo’s interests well, connecting countries and regions across the world,” he said.

(From left) Singapore Permanent Representative to the WTO/WIPO Amb Tan Hung Seng, CE/IPOS Daren Tang, PRC Permanent Representative to the UN Office in Geneva and other International Organizations in Switzerland Amb Chen Xu and Ms Wang Binying, PRC candidate for DG of WIPO and WIPO DDG for Brands and Designs. They were having a discussion during the WIPO DG elections proceedings. PHOTO: IPOS

As chief executive of Ipos, Mr Tang drove the strategic transformation of the agency from an IP registry and regulator into an innovation agency that helps build Singapore’s future economy, the statement said. His term also saw major updates to Singapore’s IP Hub Masterplan, legislative and policy reforms to the IP regime and a scaling up of international engagement. 


Ipos today has cooperation agreements with more than 70 regional and international partners.

Mr Tang had also served as chairman to Wipo’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights since May 2017, and was re-elected for a second term last year.

Before joining Ipos, Mr Tang was the lead negotiator and legal counsel for Singapore in the IP chapters of several important free-trade agreements, and was part of Singapore’s legal team in the dispute with Malaysia over Pedra Branca, which was argued before the International Court of Justice.