The first official fixture on the IPKat's list for the day was the Professors' Breakfast. Usually this event is an opportunity for a little harmless networking: each Professor at the Breakfast Table stands up and says who he or she is, everyone laughs politely and we all discuss the two eternal questions (What can we do for the INTA? What can the INTA do for us?). This year's format was different, the assembled academics being treated to presentations by David Gooder (Jack Daniel's) and Mike Yaghmai (eBay). David spoke about the problems posed by the counterfeit spirit industry and of the benefits derived from the formation of the International Federation of Spirit Producers (IFSP), while Mike waxed lyrical on the virtues of eBay's VeRO take-down scheme for suspected fake sales sites. Both presentations were of good quality, but were they a good idea?
Tuesday, 19 May 2009
Right: David Gooder (Jack Daniel's) lectures the professors
An official but unattributable source suggested that this was what the professors really and truly wanted, but the IPKat's own little survey suggests the opposite: IP professors are actually far happier talking than they are when they're listening, and they're happiest when they're talking to one another. INTA, please take note for next year! And don't forget the IPKat's yoghurt ...
The next big thing for the IPKat was the job of moderating the Professors' Panel session, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to Privilege and Ethics in Cyberspace and the Real World". He was fortunate to find a packed room humming with eager anticipation, three professors who knew their stuff and kept to the timetable, and three terrific topics to keep the serried masses on the edges of their comfy seats. John T. Cross (left) explained what privilege was, how it did-or-didn't work, who was entitled to it, why trade mark practitioners other than fully qualified lawyers raise tricky issues, and why the AIPPI proposals on privileged communication with IP advisers are unlikely to be adopted. David Hricik then spoke of the stringent and inconsistently-applied rules on ethics in the US as they affect investigations made by IP owners in contemplation of infringement litigation. Finally Tom Folsom launched into a provocative argument that, in cyberspace, it was more important to address infringement in terms of nailing down uses of words that misdirected or blocked off the flow of information than to mark out territories for exclusive use or control.
After lunch the Kat crept into the cavernous Salon 6A, where he joined a disappointingly small audience in listening to three very positive and lively papers covering the current legal position in Chile (Juan Pablo Egana) and Brazil (Sandra Leis), as well as a round-up of the almost endless regional and international initiatives on IP enforcement in which Mexico has been involved in recent years (Martin Michaus). No-one -- not even INTA -- can stop registrants wandering round the receptions and nibbling other people's peanuts for an hour and a quarter, or worshipping at the local shrine of Nordstrom. However, it does seem a shame that so much effort and expertise went into the preparation and delivery of some excellent current wisdom by a panel with nearly a century of practice between them, when so few of the 7,000+ INTA-ites were there to benefit from it.
Two more treats were in store for the Kat. First, the 5th Annual Meet the Bloggers session, generously hosted at the Pier 70 Waterfront offices of local IP practice Graham & Dunn, thanks to Seattle Trademark Lawyer, blogger Michael Atkins. For three hours or more, seasoned intellectual property lawyers swapped cards, anecdotes and aspirations with enthusiastic neophytes, while those who were there for the sheer pleasure of it all could sip their ale while gazing wistfully out to sea (left).
Finally, the Kat paid his respects to this year's President, Richard Heath, who had thoughtfully combined his Silver Wedding Anniversary celebrations with this year's INTA Meeting so that he could make sure he had all his trade mark friends to celebrate with him Happy Anniversary, Mr and Mrs H, from all of us!