AIPPI Congress Report 1: Bridging the IP past and the future in Milan

The AmeriKat's favorite painter acted as a backdrop
of AIPPI's 2016 Congress Opening Ceremony
The AmeriKat feels incredibly at home in Italy, which is apropos given her heritage.  So when she finally landed in Milan this morning for this year's AIPPI Congress her cares melted away.  That is until she saw her agenda....This year's AIPPI Congress is jammed packed with incredible events, from panel sessions dealing with everything from contributory patent infringement to IP and food, to lunch time sessions focusing on expert evidence and study questions on copyright and linking, IP securities and added matter.  The final day will be devoted to a very political topic - the fate of the UPC post-Brexit followed by a biosimilars preliminary injunction mock trial in the UPC.  The AmeriKat and a team of incredible friends and contributors, including her colleague Vanessa Rieu (Bristows), will be reporting from the events on the IPKat over the coming days.

However, before we get to that, there is the question of the Opening Ceremony.  Unlike Rio last year where the audience was impressed and invigorated (some very much so....) at the array of dancing and dancers at the opening event, the Milan opening started a bit more serene.  The walls of the cavernous hall melted into images of Italian landscape scenes, before  Felipe Caro (President of AIPPI) officially opened the Congress.  Felipe declared that the next few years will see a number of changes in AIPPI, changes that will continue the cycle of innovative and energetic discussion and work towards converging IP law.  

Francis Gurry addressing the Congress
Francis Gurry (Director General, WIPO) addressed the Congress participants noting that AIPPI and WIPO share a long (120 year) and fruitful relationship.   AIPPI, back then was the only non-governmental agency on the scene.  Now there are hundreds.  The landscape has definitely changed since AIPPI was founded almost 120 years ago.  Back then IP was primarily focused on identifying the policy features that would reward creation and innovation.  Today, the conversation has gone further by addressing the entire consumer value chain - how we consume IP, how we distribute it and how we protect in a global era. 

Gurry went on to identify some difficult challenges that needed to be addressed in IP, with the help of AIPPI.  These were as follows:
  • Clearing the registered IP application backlog.  There is demand for IP protection by the sheer number of applications pending (e.g. 2.7 million patent applications).  However, the system is struggling to keep up with the demand.  How are we going to address this?
  • Policy harmonization between patent offices has greatly increased by the sharing of platforms and infrastructure between IP offices.  This should continue.  
  • Copyright will continue to present challenges.  A recent survey found that revenue from the creative industries exceeded those of telecoms and the entire GDP of India ($1,900 billion), but copyright law is under pressure.  It is a real challenge to identify exactly where value resides given the new business models and value chains.  There is significant on-going work on these issues currently undertaken by the Commission (see recent Kat posts here) to ensure that copyright is fulfilling its function in the new economy and is continuing to provide a mechanism to finance culture.  
  • The tension between globalization and diversity will continue and there is no easy fix.  Globalization requires a certain amount of functionality to be standardized.  We all want our phones to work as soon as we land in whichever country.  These standards are created by international rules.  However, in wanting international standardization, we also have to be mindful of national rules that preserve and promote diversity of products to encourage economic growth at a state level. 
After Gurry's presentation, the audience was treated to a spectacular performance of Italian music, acrobatics and visual imagery of Italian innovators and creators, followed by copious amounts of Italian cuisine.  The AmeriKat, having expelled the virtues of cacio e pepe on some unwitting UK Group friends, slinked back to her hotel in an uncharacteristic example of an early night.  But in her defence, did she mention that this year's AIPPI Congress is jammed-packed?  
AIPPI Congress Report 1: Bridging the IP past and the future in Milan AIPPI Congress Report 1:  Bridging the IP past and the future in Milan Reviewed by Annsley Merelle Ward on Saturday, September 17, 2016 Rating: 5

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