AIPPI was founded in 1897, shortly after the signing of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property in 1883. Following the initiative of leading European legal scientists and practitioners, a founders' meeting was held in Brussels on May 8, 1897. Iin October of that same year, the first Congress was convened in Vienna, with subsequent festivities in Budapest. Meetings, or Congresses, of the Association were held annually in the early stages, later alternating with "Reunions," up until the beginning of the first World War caused an interruption in 1914. Following the end of World War I, there was a revival of the association and in 1925 the administrative center of AIPPI moved to Switzerland. As a consequence of the second World War, the activities of the association suffered a second interruption from 1938 to 1946.

The development of AIPPI to its present form has been a continuous one. Starting with an emphasis on Western Europe, it has become a truly international association, including North and South America, Eastern European countries, Asia, Australia, and Africa.

The major executive/administrative body of the international organization is the International Bureau comprised of a President, Vice President, Reporter General, Deputy Reporter Generals, Assistant Reporter Generals, and Treasurer General. The international organization is administered by the Secretary General and his/her staff.

Representatives of the National and regional groups and independent members form a parliament under the name of the "International Executive Committee" with a total of around 300 delegates. The Executive Committee deliberates and adopts the resolutions and reports of AIPPI as well as its administrative statutes and guidelines, and elects its governing body, the Bureau. The General Assembly of AIPPI convenes at annual Congresses. All members of AIPPI are entitled to participate in the General Assembly, which also deliberates and adopts resolutions and reports of AIPPI.

The official languages of AIPPI are English, German, and French. Reports are also printed in Spanish.