For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

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Thursday, 4 April 2013

Fordham Focus 1: the conference begins

Grumpy Cat
Hugh Hansen
Opening this year's Fordham IP Conference (programme here), Hugh Hansen reminded participants that they were expected to participate -- indeed, he had locked the doors in order to make sure that we all would.  He briskly introduced the first session, on the role of the individual in the leadership of IP public administration.

David Kappos
First to speak was David Kappos, who cautioned on the need for leaders to be able to overcome the forces of inertia. No IP official has ever been praised for what he hasn't done, he observed.  On the other hand, since IP institutions are built for the long term, there aren't many plaudits for short-termism either. In this context there is a need for standards-setting and cooperation between government agencies when addressing the long term needs of markets served by IP rights owners and their competitors.  Different agencies will have divergent views as to what IP policy should be, but responsible leadership will lead to creative solutions to the balance between IP protection and the protection of competition.

Turning to brands [not a topic this Kat has heard him speak on before during his tenure at the USPTO], David fastened on to the meeting point of content, brand and invention, which he described as "a key differentiator for the twenty-first century". This convergence demanded joined-up thinking and policy-making. Convergence requires a holistic, joined-up approach, he stated, citing the importance of areas such as design and 3D printing as needing that sort of treatment. David concluded by emphasising that public leadership of IP institutions was not just a matter of leadership but public service.

Antonio Campinos
Next up was OHIM wunderkind [per Hugh Hansen] Antonio Campinos, who affirmed that leaders do make a difference: they have vision, enthusiasm, energy, drive; they make plans, they see them through.  But when it comes to leadership, the question is not "if" but "how".  Antonio spoke of the need for IP leaders to meet the challenge not just of running IP but of defending it from criticisms that have emerged as part of Europe's political system -- where between 6 and 10% of voters have expressed some sympathy for anti-IP agendas.

IP systems must deliver quality products: this means getting a result which is credible,delivered  on time, consistent, measurable and predictable. This depends on being able to obtain, retain and train one's resources.  This does not necessarily mean changing the law: the starting point is to see what can be done regardless of the law.  Work can be shared, re-used; databases must be up-to-date, totally available 24/7 and free.  Even so, a rise in quality standards does not of itself justify IP: IP is a tool, it can be improved and it will be judged by the results which it achieves. Asked by Hugh Hansen: "who are your [i.e. OHIM's] future enemies?", Antonio indicated that such enemies were those folk who were opposed to convergence of functional elements of the IP system such as classification systems but had no good reason for doing so.

Ralph Oman
Hugh then gave the other panelists an opportunity to offer their views.  Ralph Oman spoke of his recollections of Barbara Ringer who, as Register of Copyrights, was a compulsive home-taper -- something that was bound to influence her position on home copying. He also alluded to her belief that her office should be staffed with lawyers, which was not such a good idea. Maria Martin-Prat admitted that her perspective was taken from a copyright point of view. Maria had the impression that legal policy was drifting in much the same direction on both sides of the Atlantic. Copyright was a subject that was "highly politically charged and dangerous".  The session also recounted memories of WIPO Director-General Arpad Bogsch, who probably provided the greatest example of how the personality and intellect of an IP leader could make its impact on the institutional dimension of IP.

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