You must be happy to be in San Francisco, after two Online Congresses?
Last year I expressed the wish to get back to an in-person Congress soon, and I am indeed so pleased that this wish came true. Having said that, the Bureau is very glad that our AIPPI community stayed connected throughout the pandemic; we were happy to see the enthusiasm online in the past two years and are proud that, among others, our resolution process continued during this time. But, of course, we are really excited to be in San Francisco!
Speaking about the past two years, did these results in any changes for AIPPI?
Yes they did! The online offering of webinars was intensified, but also more generally online meetings have become common. For example, of course our Standing Committees already had calls prior to the pandemic, but often these would primarily take place by phone. Nowadays, the Standing Committees have regular videoconference meetings; it seems so normal now but it has really added a more personal dimension and increased interaction! And, of course, we had to adjust our Congresses to the virtual world. This required a lot of flexibility and hard work behind the scenes from our General Secretariat in particular – and I would like to recognize and compliment them for that!
Were any features from the Online Congresses kept this year?
We kept the "AIPPI Cafés", although now in-person instead of virtual; these are small roundtable sessions in which a moderator leads the discussion on a specific topic. What is nice about these, is that participants can learn and meet new people at the same time. It will be first-come-first-serve, so make sure you get there in time!
Another feature that we kept from last year's Special Process on the resolution process, are the informal online Study Committee meetings prior to the Congress; these took place about a week ago. There is no voting in these meetings; rather, they are a chance to get the thinking going prior to the Congress, so that at the Congress the discussion can continue at a higher level. Also, importantly, these meetings provide a chance to all Study Committee members to contribute, also if they cannot attend in-person. For the same reasons, exceptionally we are enabling online voting during the Congress. We are conscious that, unfortunately, the pandemic is not over yet.
What are the highlights of this year's programme?
A must-attend event will be the UPC Boot Camp, with judges from UPC jurisdictions; this will be a great opportunity to see this new European patent system 'in action'. The NFT panel session will also be exciting; apart from the legal angle, it will feature crypto artist Soy Fira, who I expect will help understand what we are talking about in practice. I am furthermore looking forward to the Wine & IP lunch session: it will be very informative and enjoyable to, in the proximity of California's vineyards, listen to discussions on the law as applied to the wine industry. And then there is the ever popular Pharma Day, the Case Law Update and much more. For me, really the entire programme is a highlight.
Any updates on this year’s Study Questions that you would like to share with us?
I think we have another great line-up of resolutions expected to be adopted in ExCo by the end of the Congress and I invite all attendees to attend the discussions during the Congress. This year we have not four but five resolutions on the agenda, as there is also a proposed Standing Committee Resolution.
Patent: Patentability of Diagnostic Methods
Trade Mark: Trade Marks and the Internet and Social Media
Copyright: Moral Rights
General: Protection of Trade Secrets during Civil Proceedings
SC Resolution: Privileges relating to Settlement Negotiations
I have heard this is your last Congress as Reporter General – is that true?
Yes – difficult to imagine right now because I am in the hectic "Congress bubble", but a few days from now my term will end. I will still remain active in AIPPI though, of course!
Looking back on your term in the Bureau, any final thoughts you would like to share?
It has been a privilege to serve in the Bureau as a member of the Reporter General Team; I have gotten to know so many great professionals, have made friends and certainly learned a lot on the law too. All things come to an end though, and I can leave things in the extremely capable hands of my successor Ari Laakkonen as Reporter General. But before that, I still have a few days to go as Reporter General in San Francisco and plan to make the most of that!