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November 15, 2007


Kamil Idris, Sudanese national, head of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) for a decade, is retiring early in the wake of protest that he had been inventive with his biographical particulars.

Idris claimed to have been born in 1945 when he joined WIPO in 1982, and through subsequent promotions until 1997, when he became director-general. Last year he supposedly changed his birth date to 1954, ostensibly to enhance his retirement benefits. The 1945 birthdate may have helped him land a job at WIPO initially. But who hasn't had a typographically dyslexic moment?

Idris' 1982 job application listed a master's degree in international law from Ohio University in 1978, but a spokeswoman for the university, who apparently could not be sufficiently bribed, said he graduated with a Masters of Arts in African Studies. Idris later issued a statement that he received a Master of Arts in International Affairs at Ohio University, omitting the reference to a law degree. Certainly Idris has been masterfully artful in having gone as far as he did for so long.

The US and Western European countries, using the Idris brouhaha as pretext, blocked approval of WIPO's biennial 2008-2009 budget of $537 million; pressure that could not be withstood. WIPO staff have been miffed that the controversy was damaging the organization. An African group of nations at WIPO issued a press communiqué last month calling the attempt to get Idris to resign a racist and xenophobic attack.

The next WIPO director is expected to be less biographically creative.

Posted by Patent Hawk at November 15, 2007 1:20 PM | International


Nice to see that the USPTO does not have a monopoly on creative (mis)management.

Maybe Mr. Dudas will replace Mr. Idris.

Posted by: JD at November 15, 2007 1:33 PM

Sudan. Sounds familiar. Same country that charged the frumpy Brit schoolmarm with heresy for naming a teddy bear. No? And the home of Darfur and the notorious Ahmed Jangaweed. A great place to look for intellectual talent.

I agree with JD, but would raise the pot. Idris and Dudas could swap places and improve both organizations. Maybe Dudas will take his teddy bear and all those qualified deputy commissioners he has.

Posted by: BabelBoy at December 7, 2007 9:10 AM