Forty years at the helm: Charles Gielen celebrates

The Rock: a great place to work
if you enjoy watching trains
from high-up windows
This member of the IPKat team has just returned from Amsterdam, where he spent a delightful morning yesterday exploring the Rock – a stunning piece of architecture inside and out which is inhabited by his friends at De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek -- and an inspiring afternoon round the corner from the Rock at the World Trade Centre, where he joined in the celebrations to mark 40 years in IP practice for his old (both literally and metaphorically) friend Professor Charles Gielen of NautaDutilh.

The celebrations took the form of a seminar on the theme of cross-border enforcement of intellectual rights in the European Union, with a pleasant networking break in the middle and an equally well lubricated reception at which the draught beer, if not quite Badger, was certainly adequate for the purpose.

Philippe Péters (NautaDutilh) chaired the event, which he opened with some warm words for Charles. Obviously not a man to cultivate favouritism, Philippe delivered similarly lavish encomiums on each of the speakers too. If the lovely things he said about them are true, they’d better polish their halos and put up their hourly rates.

First to speak was Alex von Mühlendahl, once the Legal Face of the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market but now, in private practice with Bardehle Pagenberg, everyone’s friend. His presentation, entitled ”Enforcement of trade mark rights cross border: the issue of territoriality”, produced a breathtakingly comprehensive checklist of issues which, for good measure, he entwined within the fictional account of the dispute in Aldebaran AG v Betelgeuse NV. This tour de force had everyone in suspense, particularly since Alex had time to articulate everything except his conclusions before his allotted time, plus a short extension, had been exhausted.

Next up was Anne Marie Verschuur (NautaDutilh, Amsterdam), whose topic was “The use of seized evidence cross border”. Anne Marie touched upon a number of issues which may or may not have been adequately addressed in the IP Enforcement Directive, as well as mentioning one topic that the IPKat has occasionally speculated on: the extent to which the very underused Regulation 1206/2001 on cooperation between the courts of the Member States in the taking of evidence in civil or commercial matters -– which permits courts to take evidence on behalf of other courts – has a genuine place within European IP litigation culture or whether it’s a bit of an ornament.

When not wearing his favourite fake
Armani suit, Frederick likes to dress
as a computer geek to avoid being
suspected by hackers of working
for the FBI
Frederick Mostert (Chief Legal Counsel, Richemont) filled the gap between Anne Marie and coffee with his topic, “Are IP owners empty-handed when enforcing their rights online (online marketplaces, auction sites)” In short, he said, “Online and offline worlds can’t be separated: they are both part of the same world”. He informed a hushed audience of the dangers to IP which are currently posed by great waves of hacking raids on corporate servers with intent to seize data concerning their IP. He also argued powerfully the case that luxury brand owners should work closely with auction hosts like eBay rather than waste their energies and resources in trying to hit them over the head. He explained that Richemont had been working with eBay since 1998 and that, in his experience, it was a successful policy.  Frederick closed with the reiteration of two of his favourite themes. The first was that “soft law” and commercial/industrial guidelines worked faster than formal treaties when it came to establishing legal norms that must be implemented at national level. The second was that the relationship between the need for IP owners to identify and sue infringers and the requirement to respect privacy on the par of internet users such as website owners should be governed by what the late, great Mel Nimmer called “definitional balancing”.

Charles is a prodigious IP
author: here's a small
selection of his recent work
Anna Carboni (Powell Gilbert) spoke next on “Cross-border infringement against lookalikes: designs and unfair competition”. Apart from focusing on how laws have evolved in the EU with regard to enforcement of IP and particularly unfair competition under national law, Anna also provided some really cute pictures of Charles Gielen in his earlier days. The fact that they were not entirely genuine, being lookalikes, did not of course detract from the enjoyment of them.  Anna then tossed in some throwaway comments about the currently harmonised-but-not-too-harmonised state of the law relating to unfair business practices in Europe which attracted serious comments from some members of the audience and vaguely panicked "is-this-something-I-should-have-known-about?" faces from others.

John Allen (NautaDutilh, Amsterdam) closed the serious part of the afternoon with “Enforcement of patents cross border”. The entire audience was only mildly disappointed to discover that John failed entirely to honour his promise to be both boring and long-winded, but there was some small consolation to be derived from his little vignettes of life in the IP department with Charles.

Charles then closed the formal proceedings by thanking everyone for attending, speaking, listening and a few other things besides, and we all agreed that the world would be a duller place without him.
Forty years at the helm: Charles Gielen celebrates Forty years at the helm: Charles Gielen celebrates Reviewed by Jeremy on Friday, April 08, 2011 Rating: 5

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