From October 2016 to March 2017 the team is joined by Guest Kats Rosie Burbidge and Eibhlin Vardy, and by InternKats VerĂ³nica RodrĂ­guez Arguijo, Tian Lu and Hayleigh Bosher.

Monday, 13 April 2015

WIPO Roving Seminars: a Kat samples one

Intrepid WIPO staff searching for a fresh
place to spread word of their services
As mentioned on this weblog a few weeks ago, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is running a pair of Roving Seminars this week in Israel. WIPO's roving seminars have now been running for a couple of years, during which time they have roved through 33 cities in 20 countries over the past 2 years. Their function is simple: to bring to IP owners and practitioners around the world a greater understanding of what services WIPO provides and how those services can facilitate users' commercial plans. The seminars are conducted in conjunction with national intellectual property offices, to ensure that what might otherwise be a one-size-fits-all presentation can be carefully tailored to the needs, interests and technological and commercial interests of each host nation.

This week marked the first time that this Kat, in all his travels, has actually been in the same country as a Roving Seminar and at the same time so, with a heart full of curiosity and eager anticipation, he headed off to Be'er Sheva, a booming town surrounded by technology parks and industrial zones which is perched close to the edge of the Negev desert. There, before an audience of some 98 registrants, the seminar commenced in the lovely, modern premises of the Carasso Science Park.

The event opened with welcomes from Asa Kling (head of the local IP Office) and Yoshiyuko Takagi (Assistant Director General, WIPO) and, in a refreshing change from the business side of WIPO activities, in a series of short presentations by winners of the Israel Patent Office Prize for an Excelling Academic Thesis on Various Fields of IP: the prize winners were Michael Cohen, Talya Ponchek and Omer Hayun and their prize-winning essays sought respectively (i) to demonstrate that empirical evidence did not support the contention that dilution of a trade mark leads to a diminution of its popularity, (ii) to reflect the level of inter-sector collaboration reflected by cited patents and (iii) to contrast legislative and non-legislative approaches towards deceptive trade dress [all these essays are hosted on the Israel Patent Office website, on its Hebrew pages].

WIPO's message -- but not
a faceless one ...
The Roving Seminar then turned to the business end of things with a series of presentations on how the national patent office works as WIPO's cooperation partner and service provider (Asa Kling), on WIPO's activities in developing the international legal framework for IP and in promoting major IP economic studies (WIPO's Moshe Leimberg), the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) --  its future prospects and how it actually works in practice (this being a two-header with WIPO's Matthew Bryan and local patent attorney and novelist Kfir Luzzatto.  WIPO's Debbie Roenning then reviewed international trade mark and design filing under the Madrid and Hague Agreements, quite surprising the audience with information about how much useful information was actually sitting there on the WIPO website, waiting for them to come and get it.  Again, the WIPO view was complemented by a practitioner's perspective, this time from Ronit Barzik-Soffer (Reinhold Cohn Group).

The pre-lunch period was then occupied by two more members of the WIPO roving troupe.  Matthew Bryan introduced the now quite ample array of dispute resolution tools available via its Arbitration and Mediation Center and Yoshiyuki Takagi followed, with a slightly condensed but no less useful presentation on the bewildering variety of databases available for IP platforms and the connected knowledge economy.  Following lunch and slightly delayed by technical issues in which this Kat may have inadvertently had a paw, the final WIPO speaker, Paolo Lanteri, gave the brightest, breeziest presentation of the day when he tackled digital copyright developments, most of which pertained to the legal and commercial issues concerning computer games (leaving us all very 'twitchy') and user-generated content.  There then followed a bit of question-and-answer and a chance for everyone to clap hands, say goodbye and step out into the gentle, warming sun -- maybe none the wiser but definitely better informed.

A little reading before you attend
the Roving Seminar might be a good idea
This Kat thought the occasion a thoroughly worthwhile one. WIPO's five-person team was warm, open and accessible -- and as willing to listen as to talk. The speakers from the home team did their bit too, speaking with clarity, confidence and relevance.  There were opportunities for a little networking too. That's not to say that the roving seminar formula could not be improved. It occurred to this Kat that the registrants for the seminar were mainly experienced IP practitioners in their own right, many of whom were perfectly capable of giving a talk as listening to one. It would be great if they could have had a bigger chance to participate by sharing their own experiences of WIPO's many services within the structure of the sessions. To accommodate this, much of the factual data to which we were treated, relating to numbers of countries tied into the PCT, Madrid and Hague systems, countries of origin and destination etc,, could be provided on factsheets ahead of the event for our edification and a little homework.  Also, while the tally of 98 registrants was impressive, the event had more of the feel of a conference about it -- smaller numbers do facilitate discussion and interaction rather better.  Finally, it would be lovely if the host country could provide a few internet-enabled desktop computers through which people could actually visit and play with the free and publicly available databases which are now on offer.

If you live in a country that has not yet been blessed with a visit from the Roving Seminars but would like to receive one, do contact your local intellectual property office and suggest they offer to host one.  If you're running a national office and you're not sure who to contact at WIPO about getting one going, email Victor Vazquez-Lopez. He'll know what to do!

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