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Wednesday, 23 November 2011

In all events, we need a diary

Important addendum

After this piece was posted, the IPKat received the following (which appears in the Comments link, below):

"An additional item ...would be useful: eligibility. For example one or two events advertised in IPKat's upcoming events diary have been marketing events for various barristers' chambers and I (as a competing barrister) have been told I'm not welcome. That's fair enough - no point marketing to me after all - but I think its something that should be clearly and honestly declared, otherwise one wastes time planning around things and then much later discovers they are out of reach".
The IPKat believes that the IP communities are friends who should learn to tolerate and assist each other, since today's competitor can so easily be tomorrow's ally.  He does not support the principle of "competitors are not welcome" and will remove from his list any event from which anyone who is otherwise eligible is excluded on this ground.

And now back to the blog post ...

An IP Communal Diary: for people
who like their dates on a plate ...
The intellectual property community is remarkably active. As this Kat has remarked on many occasions, there are lots of events for the discerning expert, the eager neophyte, the busy businessman and the cool, reflecting academic to attend. Conferences, seminars, talks, socials -- and now (though "attend" might be a bit of an exaggeration) webinars.

The year consists of 365 days or, as in 2012, 366 -- but not all of the days in the calendar are suitable for holding events. Secular and religious holiday seasons, family commitments, likely weather conditions, the Olympic Games and other factors reduce the options available to event organisers. This means, in practice, that some months are particularly crowded with events while others are not.  Given the large number of professional, trade, commercial and government bodies which organise events, not to mention the private sector in which training events and rapid response seminars are arranged, overlap is impossible to avoid. The only question that remains is how to minimise the inconvenience which overlap causes.

This autumn has been unusually busy in terms of events, which has sparked off a number of emails to the IPKat -- who runs a Forthcoming Events page -- to establish an Intellectual Property Events Diary in which all forthcoming events can be entered.  This Kat and (he suspects) have neither the time nor the resources to maintain such a diary.  However, the argument in favour of one is strong.  The following points should however be borne in mind:

  • A diary is not a reservation service. The fact that one organisation has decided to hold an event on a particular topic on a specific date does not give it a monopoly or a prior right. It merely serves to notify others who may wish to attend, or who may want to organise an event on that date, that the earlier event exists;
  • Much of the clash or overlap of events is not directly fatal from the point of view of subject matter -- a copyright seminar is unlikely to detract from a conference on pharma patents. But there is an indirect effect where, for example, people working for the same law firm all want to be away from their desks at the same time, attending events on quite different topics;
  • The IPKat is aware of the frequency with which billed events are cancelled, postponed or relocated in time or space. Some organisations -- commercial events companies in particular -- are reluctant to publicise the fact that an event will not after all take place. If a communal IP diary is to have any value, its entries must be kept entirely up-to-date;
  • Some events are international (for example the massive annual INTA Meeting); others are regional, national or even local. The diary should clearly indicate the intended geographical pull of listed events, both as a guide to prospective participants and to assist other events organisers;
  • This Kat has spoken to a number of event-organising bodies, each of whom has indicated that it would not be willing to make a payment towards the establishment and upkeep of a communal IP events diary. This is a false economy.  The amount of money lost through incurring cancellation charges for the hire of venues and the preparation and distribution of promotional materials, as well as the loss of registration fees where two or more events take place on the same topic on the same date, must surely add up to a great deal more than a modest charge for making a diary entry;
  • Since the diary is likely to be visited frequently by anyone interested in events, opportunities for funding it through site sponsorship must be pretty attractive;
  • Criteria for inclusion of an event in the diary must be established, since it's often not clear what is -- or is not -- really an IP event.  For example trade mark protection blends into branding, which blends into marketing. Where does one draw the line?
  • Criteria for admissible data must also be drawn up.  Title and subject, identity of organiser, date and venue should be mandatory, plus links to further information and registration details.  In this Kat's opinion, everything else is detail or marketing and is not needed in a diary. 

This Kat is happy to encourage and assist any public- or private-sector initiative that will lead to the establishment and maintenance of a communal IP diary.  If any reader of this weblog is interested in taking up the mantle of leadership, he or she should contact the IPKat here. He will put all respondents in touch with one another and leave them to it, while offering to publicise whatever results from their contact with one another.  Merpel, who is mildly dyslexic, can't see why everyone in the IP world is suddenly getting so excited about a communal dairy

3 comments:

Peter Groves said...

If a simple technical solution like a Google Calendar would suffice - which might, possibly, be associated with the IPKat readers Google group, though I can't see quite how this might be done at present, I would be happy to receive information about events and put it into the calendar. If it's more complicated than that, I might have to think again!

Francis Davey said...

An additional item of date would be useful: eligibility. For example one or two events advertised in IPKAT's upcoming events diary have been marketing events for various barristers' chambers and I (as a competing barrister) have been told I'm not welcome. That's fair enough - no point marketing to me after all - but I think its something that should be clearly and honestly declared, otherwise one wastes time planning around things and then much later discovers they are out of reach.

David said...

Since the IPKat already has a Google account, it should be a simple matter to use the Google Calender associated with the account, and to make it publicly available for all to view. All it will need is for someone to keep it updated - not something that would be too onerous, and it looks like you already have a volunteer.

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